Short is good. It’s been a life mantra of mine for years ever since my sub-5 foot Grandmother reminded me that “you don’t get diamonds as big as boulders”; …but brevity is becoming ever more important.
Modern life is more immediate. We no longer want to wait; immediacy is key. 25 years ago we would willingly wait for hours whilst a computer game loaded from a clicking and beeping C90 cassette. Nowadays if our broadband speed dips below 50mbps and an entire movie takes more than seconds to load we have convulsions.
I joked about the ‘playstation generation’ not understanding the concept of patience in my 2012 blog ‘What happened to the job for life’, but the truth is, it’s no joking matter. We crave information and understanding of every kind immediately.
We will no longer be prepared to wait for even early editions of newspapers to get our news as, thanks to the internet in general, and especially social media, we often hear the news before the journalists do. [which means newspapers have to either offer intelligent comment, or seek salacious content/scandal to gain bandwidth/circulation, but that’s a whole different subject matter….]
Witness how we search/Google. BIA/Kelsey predict that this will be the year when mobile device internet searches overtake desktop – more and more of us want that immediate information…..but that information has to be critically succinct. How many words will you read on your phone or tablet-based ‘google’ search to understand if you have your answer, or your quest for information has been satisfied?
Never has the need to be succinct more pressing than in business. The ability to transfer information, and importantly have that information understood, as quickly as possible is vital in the modern world.
For decades, business execs and sales people have been taught ‘The Elevator Pitch”. Even as recently as 2007 Bloomberg described it as “A skill every business-person needs.”
The Elevator Pitch is a succinct summary of the unique aspects of your service or product in a way that excites others. The notion being that should you find yourself in an elevator with your target client’s CEO, you should have the ability to detail who you are, what you are and why you are different in two minutes.
Execs were trained and timed on perfecting this 2 minute pitch, including maximum impact, maximum detail/product/service coverage and leave the audience wanting to hear more/ask questions.
The perfect Elevator pitch was the following:
Answer the question “What can you do for me?”
Introduce yourself and address a problem right out of the gate. Explain the benefits your company can offer, which is ultimately a real solution.
Make it easy to want to listen. Grab attention by mentioning competitors and market leaders that you work with. “If they are, why aren’t you?”
Leave them wanting more. Give brief details. Benefits you offer, not a tailored solution.
Have a call to action. Ask for the follow-up conversation/meeting.
Be natural. Talk, don’t lecture. Don’t over practice so it sounds pre-recorded. Have passion, but show some restraint. And relax!
I, and thousands of others, were trained and perfected in this technique. ….and yet, when I asked a number of newer generation client facing/business/sales professionals (i.e. 10-15 years younger than me) about the elevator pitch this week, very few had ever heard of it, let alone used it.
It’s a great tool to get across what you do….and for anyone that networks informally or formally, it’s a vital skill to be able to succinctly detail what you do.
…….but is even the 2 minute Elevator Pitch becoming passé?
In the world of immediacy, will you really give someone 2 minutes on a casual meeting? Unlikely. As with all things you need to grab attention quickly….you need to offer far higher impact.
The most common opener in any form of an initial professional meeting, event, introduction or encounter will be “What do you do?” When asked that simple question, most people will talk for a minimum of 30 seconds, often for well over a minute. Staggeringly, most will start the response with the word “Well, ……”. When was the last time meaningful, succinct information was communicated having begun that way?
Respondents will then give a version of an elevator pitch, but with content all about them. By the time they’ve finished, the listener has often been told nothing….and often has no desire to ask further!
You need to be able to describe what you do in five words….or less. Whether responding to the question “What do you do” or opening a conversation. Five words maximum. Could you? Try it.
Now what do those five words tell a prospective client/contact/investor/supplier/customer? I asked three different people last week to tell me who and what they were within the magic five words. Their responses were:
“A Chartered Accountant”
“Public Company Director”
“Retail Operations Director for XXXXX”
The first two descriptions told me nothing. The first implied that the individual had sat and passed his ICAEW/ICAS exams some decades earlier. The second meant he fulfilled one of dozens of roles in a listed business of indeterminate sector/size/scale/etc.
The third told me everything, was a conversation starter and made me want to find out more.
Refine your five word introduction. You will be staggered at the impact it has.
My response to the question is simply “I’m a Head-Hunter”. It never fails to elicit further questions, yet I have heard dozens of my contemporaries respond to the same questions “(Well,….) I’m a Manager/Director for a recruitment business based in XXXXXXX, running a team of consultants focusing on the market, and….etc etc…”. The disinterest is commonly palpable.
Be innovative but be interesting. You want to make it impossible for listeners not to want to ask for more.
I asked 30 people to give me their five word summary. The results are amazing and inspirational (and funny….and giving you a great list of inspiring people to follow….). See the bottom of this blog for the list
Five word rule in recruitment.
The Five Word rule is also essential when you place yourself on the job market – the ultimate sales pitch. Being able to succinctly describe yourself to readers of your CV or interviewees will, without question, give you the competitive advantage.
I’ve gone on record to say that I will process between 100 and 150 CVs in an hour at the initial screen. That means that most CVs will get 15-20 secs before I place them in the ‘Yes’, ‘No or ‘Maybe’ pile (more proof of immediacy in modern business). That 15-20 seconds will be spent on name, location, reading the first line of a profile/summary and briefly reviewing the last 2 positions held.
When recruiting for an AsiaPac Polymer Compound Sales Director, CVs with the profile that began “Last XX years as a Polymer Industry Sales Director” got automatic inclusion into the next round. Those that began “An outstanding, visionary senior executive with broad commercial exposure and a class leading track record allied to astute strategic leadership capability…..blah blah blah” are more likely to get passed by.
However….regardless how effective and important the Five Word rule is, it is never going to replace the Elevator Pitch. Five words should be enough to detail what you do, but it is unlikely to be a pitch, nor open doors. You need just s little more. The Tweet Pitch.
For the non-tweeters amongst you – Twitter is the fast growing Social Media platform, IPO’d last year at a market value of $15bn on 7th November, and today sits with a market cap on $30bn. It has 700m users, 230m of whom use it regularly posting 500m ‘tweets’ per day. Ignore it at your peril. Check out my Twitter Feed here
It allows tweeters to converse, engage and post messages using a maximum of 140 characters. It has also become a highly effective business generation tool, and professional introduction vehicle – so much so that Twitter now stands as by far my most effective business generation tool outside of my own network – and certainly more in the last year than I have had in 10 years of Elevator Pitches.
Such an idea is immensely useful to be very focused about how you ‘sell’ your business. It expands the principle of the Five Word rule developing it from just description into an informative introduction. A pitch.
The ability to succinctly introduce your business using under 140 characters (or rather under 100 characters allowing for the tagging in of other party/ies) is a highly valuable tool. But not just on Twitter. Such brevity is extremely attractive to your customers, contacts and potential clients….on and offline:
Online, from your website(s) to your social media platform, especially on Twitter, the means of being able to get your message across (in an engaging, a non-direct sales manner) in 140/100 characters is a powerful tool, especially when highlighting your USPs. It is the same as the best advertising straplines you have seen – engaging, informative, setting yourself apart….eliciting customer follow-up.
….but equally importantly, offline. When meeting face-to-face, if you can get your message, your ‘pitch’, your USPs, your commercial advantage and most importantly your name across to your target audience quicker and with more impact than anyone else, you will win more. Simple.
Work on your sub-100 character tweet pitch(es).
Factual Message: “I’m a Head-Hunter. Recruiting for and into every seat around the boardroom table”
USP: “A headhunter, focusing on chemistry fit, guaranteeing the effectiveness with a 12 month guarantee”
Sales Message: “An Unparalleled Network of Exceptional Executives. Finding the people you didn’t even know existed”
We talk about innovating businesses, of disrupting sectors – do the same to the way you introduce yourself and talk about you business.
Short IS good!
Tweet me your #TweetPitch or your 5 word summary (include that hashtag and @GC_HeadHunter). I’ll put them all up here…..and let Manchester chose it’s favourites.
Manchester’s (and beyond) Elite chose their Five Word Summaries:
Phil Jones @PhilJones40 “Inspire people to be great”
James Welch @jameswelch_net “Innovative, relentless, honest network scientist”
Steve Kuncewicz @SteveKuncewicz “Applying law to real life.”
Dave Thackeray @DaveThackeray “I make people superheroes.”
Michael Di Paola @MichaelDiPaola “Help brands to genuinely standout”
Rionne Williams @rionnewilliams “Make grey marketing more colourful.”
Al Mackin @almackin “Son, Brother (in-law), Cronut Seeker, Rule-breaker (see word count)”
Holly Yates @hol_yates “Optimistic, creative, reliable, problem solver.”
Lauren Dale @Social_Lauren “JFDI”
C @RTSChants “I find and fill gaps!”
Hannah Swarbrick @HannahSwarbs “Create experiences and smiles!”
Dr Tara Swart @TaraSwart “Only one in the world”
Simon Calderbank @simoncalderbank “I help people make money.”
Richard Venables @Rich_Venables “Digital marketing not from 2008”
Steve Kennedy @wilmslowmail “I’m Steve, I DO things.”
Nick Moore @NickmNick “Gives businesses a profitable future”
Oli Randell @OliRandell “Enterprise Value creator for Businesses”
@emmacottam “Slicker than your average”
Tom Cropper @TomCropper13 “Put logic back into logistics!”
Red House Farm @redhousefarm “Making kids parties real fun!”
Malcolm Evans @FundEnterprise “Big, Bald, Bold, Bolshy, Bearded, Bad at maths”
Elizabeth Donevan @elizadonevan “Find stories and tell ’em.”
Laura Featonby @LaurasTravel “Making Travel dreams come True”
Chris Longbottom @ChrisLongbottom “Service driven solutions with support”
Andy Johnson @AndyPJo1 “BBC presenter now media consultant”
Tom Donnelly @tomdglumedia “Nobody does it better”
Keeley @phat_cupcake “I encourage people to understand”
Nigel Sarbutts @NigelSarbutts “PR problems can do one”
Paul Yates @paulryates “Kind successful businessman proven results”
Stefan Powell @StefanPowell “Breathing new life into leaders”
Marian Arnold @MarketingMaz “Making Networking Fun for Everyone!”
Tom Cheesewright @bookofthefuture “Explain technology and its impact”
Krista Smith @kristalasmith “Helping women find themselves again”
Gillian Andrews @Gillysue82 “Walking talking brand ambassador LV”
BadMan Media @BadManMedia “Ambitious social Driven Honest Company”
Chris Marsh @marsh80 “friendly face of tech industry”
David Edmundson-Bird @groovegenerator “Try and build people’s futures”
Andy Hall @Handyall “Mentor and coach to entrepreneurs”
Lucy Noone @Lucinoone7 “Vegetarian selling burgers and dreams”
Rob Weatherhead @RobWeatherhead “Deliver Business Growth Through Digital”
Rob Illidge @robertillidge “Marketing extraordinaire producing the impossible”
Sara Bryan @sara_louise_b “Super extension of your team”
Jonathan Ward @jonathan626537 “Solve companies’ business challenges digitally”
Simone Spina @sim1spin “i.create(art, digital, software)”
Naomi Timperley @naomitimperley “Opportunity engineer delivering inspiring enterprise”
Simon Bowers @StokieSimon “Leader and server; happy people”
Gabrielle Iskandar @Gabiskandar “Hardworking, caring, meticulous, friendly facilitator!”
Oli Dunn @Oli_Dunn_Choc “Creative opportunist chocolatier loving life”
racheldiane @racheldianebell “Creative, Different and passionate!”
Carlos Oliveira @carlosatshaping “#PublicSector #Innovation #Cloud #Agile”
Simon Swan @Simon_Swan “Chancer. Learning as he goes.”
Rob Wilcocks @RobWilcocks “Alternative, Financial Advisor: Truth-teller”
Michael Levy @MichaelHLevy “People performance improvement – tangible results”
Matt Walmsley @MattWalms “Make smart pricing strategies reality”
Kristian Burrill @KristianBurrill “Inspire innovative communication #peopleanalytics”
Christian Mancier @mancier “proactive practical commercially savvy lawyer”
intoto wilmslow @intotowilmslow “Creating Inspirational Kitchens for lifestyles in homes”
Olympian Buildings @OlympianSheds “Working with you to create aspirational Garden Buildings”
….and possibly the best to date:
Jennifer Smith @JenSmith1850 “32, GSOH, WLTM rich man”