Elevate Your Business with an Elevator Pitch

This week, I was at a networking event run by South-East Business Network. It represented a growing trend I’ve noticed in networking events – people sit at tables of 10 and each person is required to give a two-minute elevator pitch. In case you’re not familiar with the term, an elevator pitch is a mini-presentation of your business designed to be given in a very limited space of time – the time it takes to travel in an elevator.

The reality is that in our fast-paced world, we literally have seconds to make an impression. So it’s important to be able to capture the message of your business in a nutshell. A good elevator pitch will help you make the most of the golden opportunities life sometimes throws your way. Here are the ingredients of a good elevator pitch.

Who you are. Begin with a simple description of your business, what it’s called and what it does. Sometimes you only have 10 seconds to make an elevator pitch, so it’s a good idea to begin with the most important information.

Goals: Tell the person what you aim to do for your customers ie, them. Maybe you can solve their tax problems, or help them find that perfect gift for their friend’s wedding.

Services: Give them a flavour of the services you offer that help them achieve that goal. Tailor it to your audience – concentrate on the services you think are of most relevance to them.

Doing all that should bring you to 30 seconds, or if you include all your services, one minute. But if you have the luxury of a two-minute pitch you can also include.

Origins: Show your passion and originality of thought by telling them what made you come up with your business idea.

Future goals: Tell them how you’ll be expanding your business in future.

A good finish. It can be easy for your elevator pitch to taper off, so drive your message home with a good slogan or tagline. I came across a cleaning business whose tagline was Fighting Grime.

The good news is that an elevator pitch doesn’t have to be fancy or elaborate. The simpler your description of your business is, the easier it is for people to grasp what it is you do and ultimately to buy from you.







How to Write a Story in Two Hours

For the last year or so, I have been giving creative writing workshops in secondary schools within an hour’s distance of where I live in Waterford. In fact, today’s is in my old school. When I began, I just did general exercises., but realised I could hold students’ attention far more effectively if I gave them a goal to aim towards, in this case, a complete story. And they achieve that goal – in just two hours.

I start off with a short talk about myself, the craft of writing and what students can expect from the workshop. I tell them they’ll be putting together the three ingredients for stories and ask them what they are. They usually guess correctly: character, setting, plot. The students work in groups of three. Teenagers naturally like comparing notes with their friends and this lets them do that. They can also play to their strengths: one might be the idea generator, another the organiser and a third the reader.

Then I do a warm-up, a variation of the game 20 questions. They write a short description of a famous person and pair up and see if they can guess their partner’s character. I use the warm-up as a springboard to talk about how authors create their characters.

Students then do three exercises that help them come up with the three ingredients for their stories.

1. Character sketch. Use photographs cut from newspapers to build a profile of a character, name, age, appearance, job, family and hobbies. To add intrigue, I also ask them to reveal a secret no-one else knows.

2. Selling a Destinations. Students receive a list of 10 placenames, some real, some imaginary. Each person in the group picks one and writes about it as if writing for a travel brochure, describing the scenery, weather, people and customs. They then vote on the one they’ll pick as the setting for their story.

3. Behind the Headlines. Newspaper headlines are a good example of plot -they describe an exciting event in one line. I give each group a headline and they write the story that led to that headline. This gives them the plot for their story.

They now have three very different ingredients and their task is to combine them. I give them tips for structuring and writing their story. They aim for a three-paragraph story, with a beginning, middle and end. After that, they read their story to the class and receive applause and fulsome praise.

The workshop aims to give them an insight into how writers create their stories. But mostly, it aims to give them a feeling of achievement that they’ve completed a story. At the very least, it’ll divert them on a grey schoolday.

How to Write a Press Release When There’s No News

At this time of year, a lot of businesses make a new start. A move to a new premises. A new product range. Or a new business, full stop. Plenty of fodder for media outlets. But what if nothing new is happening? You may feel nothing is happening in your business that is worthy of a press release. Finding newsworthy angles is a particular problem for service businesses, who don’t have anything tangible to show for your efforts.

But the good news for those in service businesses is that you do have a source of news – yourself. Your opinions. Your insights. And your expertise. You can’t have new things happening all the time, so media outlets frequently fill their slots with opinions from experts. And you can take advantage of that trend.

Here’s How

Be Upbeat About the Economy: That’s what Positive Economist Susan Hayes is doing. She’s been featured on the Sunday Business Post and on RTE’s The Business, because she wants to turn the tide of doom and gloom pouring out of the media. If you genuinely feel there’s a glimmer of hope for us, don’t be afraid to light the way with a press release outlining your views.

Awareness of Trends: If you know what makes people buy certain products, or developments are happening in your industry which will have a broader ripple effect, you can put yourself forward as an expert. You can show how customers can benefit from these trends and achieve real value for money.

Offer Business Advice: The world of business can be a minefield, so you could put together an article or blog post that guides people through the minefield. This is what John Jordan of Next Chapter Marketing Consultancy does. His blogs on low-cost marketing solutions for small businesses have featured on http://www.bizstartup.ie.

So where can you go with your ideas.

Radio Business Programmes: The bulk of business and current affairs programmes on radio are now taken up with opinion, with people sharing their expertise and predicting trends. You can avail of these trends by contacting the producers of programmes like The Business and Newstalk Breakfast with your ideas. Ringing them ensures a prompter answer, but be sure not to do it too close to programme time, as you want to ensure they’re receptive. Be chatty and enthusiastic when you’re talking to them and they’ll see you as radio-friendly.

Newspaper Articles: Slots like Business Brain in the Irish Independent offer a platform for business people to share their expertise. If you send in press releases to newspapers, they’ll see you as a good candidate for a quote in an article about business practise. If you want to write an article, don’t send in the whole article. Send a summary instead, highlighting what you think is newsworthy about your idea.

Online Outlets: If you’re not sure where your press release, you could find an online press outlet. http://www.irishpressreleases.ie, http://www.bizstartup.ie and http://www.irishmediastore.com are all free. Bizstartup is read by business people, while Irish Press Releases and Mediastore are used by journalists to source news.

Feel free to share your own stories of getting press coverage as a service business with me and my readers.