An Elevator Pitch and Starting With Why

Do you have an elevator pitch?  You should. An elevator pitch (or elevator speech or elevator statement), according to Wikipedia, is:

a short summary used to quickly and simply define a product, service, or organization and its value proposition. The name “elevator pitch” reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver the summary in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately thirty seconds to two minutes.

If you read enough business books, you will undoubtedly come across the term.  An elevator pitch can be created for careers, projects, businesses, blogs, and a variety of other tasks.  In the book 31 Days To Build A Better Blog, Darren Rowse of ProBlogger fame, devotes the very first day to creating an elevator pitch for your blog.  It is such an important concept for a successful blog that it was the very first task out of 31.  An elevator pitch lays the foundation for the rest of the blog building process.

So what makes a good elevator pitch?  According to the book, Darren Rowse defines two goals for a successful elevator pitch:

  • To communicate what you do
  • To entice the person receiving your pitch to want to know more

Pretty simple, huh?  Where do you start?

Start With Why

While I was catching up on the blogs I follow, I read a great post by Scott Dinsmore at about Simon Sinek.  Scott discusses Simon’s background and does a 27 minute interview with Simon.  The interview was great.  Simon’s book, Start with Why, is now on my must read list and I have a better understanding how important this concept is to life and business.

Simon also did a TED talk about why it is important to start with why in business. One of the examples he gives is to compare Apple to a few other computer manufacturers.  Take a look (if you are having trouble watching the video here, try it on the TED site)

The key take-away from this talk for me is Simon’s description of how Apple uses the concept to start with why

Why – In everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo and thinking differently

How – Making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, user friendly

What – We just happen to make great computers and electronic devices

The graphic from the video explains it better visually so if you skipped it, I highly recommend that you watch the video.  It’s only 18 minutes long so you won’t have to spend a ton of time.  At 3:20, he gives the example of Apple.  Go ahead and watch it, I’ll wait here for you.

Finished? Great.  Do you see how important it is to start with why?  Imagine how it can change your life and business.  When you start with why, you are focusing on a mission, a common set of values and goals that consumers, clients, and the world can relate with.  You are not trying to sell something, you are leading by example.

One of the benefits of an elevator pitch is the efficiency at which it conveys information. Your elevator pitch should express your passion and create a desire in everyone who hears it to want to learn more.  It is a simple way to provide quick information and a summary of what you are involved with.

Building an Elevator Pitch

In building an elevator pitch, it is important to start with why.  So, what is your why?  Why are you working on this project?  Why would you devote so much time to your project?  What is your why?  The concept of why explains your passion about the project and the reason you are doing it.  Be brutally honest with yourself.  To get you going, consider Apple’s why:

In everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo and thinking differently

What is your why?  Condense your why down to one sentence then move on.

Now that you have started with why, it’s time to discuss how you accomplish your why.  Remember, this is a summary statement that helps to get people excited about your passion so craft it carefully.  How do you make a difference?  If you remember from the video, Apple does this by making the products they create beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly.  I’m sure you can agree that Apple does a great job at their how.  How do you make a difference and execute your why?  What is your unique selling proposition, a.k.a. you how?  Condense your how down to one sentence, combine it with your why, and head for the final leg.

You now have your why and how, next is the what.  What do you do?  In what form do you use your how to deliver your why?  Apple makes great computers and electronic devices.  Even if you are anti-iPhone and iPad, they really are amazing, game-changing devices.  What is your what?  Most things can be divided into two categories:  Do you offer an a service or a product?  Is your product an ebook, information on a blog, art, or anything else?  Do you help people be successful as a coach or provide them information?  What do you do to accomplish your why?  Condense your what down to one sentence.

With all three parts complete, it is now time to build your elevator pitch.  Start with why, move into how, and finish with what.  Take some time and get help if needed, but when you are finished, this elevator pitch needs to convey your passion about the task or project.  If not, keep tweaking until it does.  This is an important step in marketing and focus; if you aren’t excited after you read your own elevator pitch, how can you expect anyone else to be.

My Elevator Pitch

After reading the post at and watching the TED talk (both several times…) it was time to review my elevator pitch.  My elevator pitch for this website,, is as follows:

Book Worm Laser & Design is a company dedicated to adding creativity to the everyday items of life. We do this by utilizing digital design tools and laser engraving technology to create unique products, to find innovative solutions, and to enhance objects.  We offer innovative, custom designed products as well as a blog that informs and entertains readers about laser engraving, business, and the company.

Without knowing specifically, I had already started with why for an elevator pitch that I had created a few months ago while reading 31 Days To Build A Better Blog.  The only change that was made after reading the post from was to add some information about products in the last line, right before the blog was mentioned.

I hope this has convinced you to create your own elevator pitch for your current and future projects.  It makes a great addition to your email signature, giving others a glimpse into your passion.

If this post has convinced you to write your own elevator pitch or if you already had one, leave a comment and share it with everyone.  I would appreciate the opportunity to learn about your passion.

(photo by: Gregory Szarkiewicz)

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