Deliver Your Elevator Pitch with a Twist

You only get one chance to make a first impression, make sure you’re ready to seize your moment.

No matter what category your brand competes in, it’s becoming harder to stand out since your potential customers are bombarded with so much information every day. That’s why it’s so important to have a really tight elevator pitch. It helps people “get” what you stand for right away and then quickly decide whether they want to learn more about your brand.

Write down your pitch in no more than 250 words and continue to practice and perfect it. Start with one headline promise that highlights what your brand enables, not what you offer – and three support points. Rotate and freshen these points depending on your target audience, but be prepared to tell your story in the time it would take to travel 3 elevator flights, not 30 or even 10.

Learn more about honing your elevator pitch in the 8 tips here:

1. Pay attention to your audience, what motivates them? Your pitch can and should vary somewhat by audience, know what your “ask” is. Do you want an introduction to someone else, a purchase, an investment, coverage on a blog? Know this up front and make sure you ask for what you want by the close.

2. Talk about what your brand enables people to do – not just what you offer – an emotional promise fulfilled will create a loyal user.

3. Add something personal and memorable to your story – perhaps something visual – the best stories give specific details we can connect with.

4. Think about your story in terms of a headline and three supporting points – more than three is hard for your audience to remember.

5. Try out different versions on different people – see which ones get the lean forward effect, and which ones elicit a yawn or maybe a distracted eye roll.

6. Keep honing and editing – a story is never actually finished. New events happen that are significant and should be incorporated. Also updating stories keeps them fresh and interesting.

7. Have a short version, but be ready to follow up with more – think about your elevator ride for your elevator pitch. Make sure you have the two-floor version but also be prepared for the twenty-floor ride to the penthouse

8. Notice stories that move you and why. This could be a movie, things you read in the newspaper… Think about what elements of that story caught your attention and is there a parallel element that could help you tell your own brand story? I don’t mean copying the content, but maybe borrowing the technique.

MAKE YOUR PITCH EVEN BETTER WITH BRAND SCHOOL 

Brand building doesn’t mean just designing a pretty logo and creating a cool name. It means choosing a bull’s eye target and defining your unique brand promise to connect with your consumers on an emotional level. Bottom line: you need to pay attention to your brand if you’re not already. And perfecting your elevator pitch is a huge part of that.

Now you can, with Brand School’s highly effective, premier branding program.  Brand School takes best practices of beloved brands such as Virgin, Apple, and Zappos and teaches you how to apply their knowledge to build your brand. We give you engaging videos, interactive exercises and exclusive access to a private community of fellow entrepreneurs. Learn more about the next session of Brand School HERE.

“It was great pulling everything together from touch points, to pillars. I would recommend Brand School to any small biz owner or entrepreneur.” – Sarah Weiss, Event Consulting

Branding Lessons from Beyonce

It takes more than a catchy logo, flashy colors and a little bit of “shake your hips” and “show some leg” to create a trusted, consistent brand, and no one knows that better then Beyoncé. The whirlwind of negative press that circulated about how she had lip-synched the National Anthem during President Obama’s Inauguration could have tainted her gleaming reputation, but it didn’t. Why not? She could have ignored the matter or she could have admitted an error in judgment and apologized. She did neither. What she did do was communicate. She expressed what she did, why she did it, and remained rock-solid true to her brand.

Beyoncé admitted to singing with a recording, and in doing so continued to deliver what her fans expect most from her: quality, emotional connection, passion and some real “Sasha Fierce” (her brand avatar) attitude, which further endeared the market to her.

Businesses of every kind encounter errors and mistakes. The challenge lies in finding ways to rise above those bumps in the road. How can your business and brand benefit from looking at the way Beyoncé handled her lip-synch snafu?

Let’s look at how she succeeded in preserving trust and actually strengthening her brand:

[sc:optin]

IF YOU LIKE IT, THEN YOU BETTER TAKE THE REINS ON IT

Shortly after the Inauguration, at a press conference about her upcoming Super Bowl Half Time Show concert, Beyoncé took the reins. Before reporters had a chance to toss her a question, she belted out a powerful acapella rendition of “The National Anthem” followed with, “Any questions?” and a laugh. Not only did she take control and write her own ending to the lip-synch buzz, but she even over-delivered by giving everyone what they wanted to see and hear in true “Sasha Fierce” brand style all the way. 

SHOW YOUR HUMAN SIDE

She went on to share her humanness and vulnerability. She expressed that she is a perfectionist, was uncomfortable performing live without a sound check, and did not want to let everyone down with a less-than-perfect moment. She then reinforced her dedication to continue delivering what her fan following expects by stating she would not disappoint in the upcoming Super Bowl Half Time Show.

KEY TAKE-AWAY? BE PREEMPTIVE AND WRITE YOUR OWN ENDING

Your business can rise above bumps in the road. How? Identify the problem quickly. Address your market with conviction in a way that’s in line with your voice, image, and customer expectation. Over-deliver by providing discounts or free downloads, etc. Tell your story, share challenges and re-commit. Give your market the opportunity to better understand who you are. Then reinforce what your brand stands for by communicating positive intentions. You too will create a positive ending to a challenging situation.

AT BRAND SCHOOL WE SHOW YOU HOW TO ROCK YOUR BRAND

Understanding your customers’ needs, being able to exceed their expectations and effectively communicate your ideas is critical to maintaining strong brand loyalty. Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program, gives you the tools you need to develop your branding and use it to make your business sing. We give you hands-on exercises, exclusive online videos, and the opportunity to connect with a supportive community of fellow brand-building entrepreneurs.

“The value I received from my investment was incredible and I have no doubt that it will continue to pay dividends to me.”  – Lynn Stull, Owner Arts2Thrive

Grab a Branding Buddy This Winter

The Purple Crayon Center for Learning and Social Innovation

Winter can be a tough time to get creative

During the winter you can really start to feel cooped up. (Most West Coasters need not apply.) Winter has wrapped its chill around everything, ice is prevalent and you’re feeling pretty blue. In fact, January 21st is commonly known as Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the calendar year. And if you’re anything like most people, going slightly stir-crazy in these winter months can hinder your creativity big-time. I know I struggle with it!

Have more fun and get more done

Which is why I’m telling you, right off the bat, to get outside of your head and into your life. Really. Step outside of your office into the crisp (okay, frigid) winter air and go for a midday walk. Skip out of work an hour early, sit in a coffee shop and start stirring up some conversation with the double caf soy latte at the next table over – and maybe spark some new ideas. Know a friend or even a coworker who frequents co-working spaces, networking events or happy hours with like-minded friends? Tag along!

Energy is a funny thing; the negative sort can break your business and damage company morale. But positive energy can take you to a productive place, especially in branding. I want you to think more about feeding off the energy of others. Put yourself out there for more chance encounters and revitalizing experiences. Even overhearing a conversation about, say, social media, could spark a latent business idea you didn’t even know you had.

COME PLAY WITH ME   

I’ve hosted several workshops for branding and innovation through a partnership with Inc Interactive at the Purple Crayon Center in Westchester, NY.  These are in-person sessions with me and other amazing business professionals. The feedback we’ve received has been amazing and the results and takeaways participants get last long after the session ends. One of the big bonuses to attending workshops and events like these is that you’ll meet other like-minded entrepreneurs you can learn from, and who knows, you may even set up some brainstorming sessions on your own!

Keep a watch on the Purple Crayon Center’s schedule for future workshops or sign up for the BrandTwist list for updates on all our future events.

bt-health-check-2

Find Moments That Matter

This post is part of our series, “Thirteen Tips For Stronger Branding.” See the rest of the series HERE.

TIP #8: FIND MOMENTS THAT MATTER

Many marketers fall into the trap of thinking that branding always has to be a huge gesture, a big billboard, a knockout commercial, etc. And while branding IS effectively promoted that way, sometimes, the little moments matter the most when it comes to reinforcing your brand promise. Think about the trivia tidbits on the inside of Snapple caps, the kooky smile on Amazon’s box every time you receive a home delivery, or the branded logo on the bottom of the Virgin Atlantic salt and pepper shakers. What little moments could your brand be overlooking? It could be a small line of copy on an invoice, or a greeting that loads as your website boots up. Take just five minutes out of your daily routine to stop and think about a potential mundane moment that, in fact, could surprise and delight your customer and creates a stronger brand connection in the process.

Remember, with a little creativity there can be tons of magic in even the smallest moment.

Check out tip #9 in the series, Make Your Brand Personal.

BRAND SCHOOL ADDS A TWIST TO YOUR BUSINESS

Brand School is the highly effective, premier branding program specifically designed to meet the needs of small business owners and entrepreneurs. Learn more about Brand School here and read testimonials from many of Brand School’s satisfied former participants. To receive news about special offers and stay up to date on the next semester, please join our newsletter.

bt-health-check-2

 

 

 

“Quality information. The value is priceless. I loved every minute of it! I’ve recommended Brand School to industry friends and colleagues.” – Barbara Wanzo, Non-profit Homeowner Services

3 Alarm Bells: It’s Time To Make Your Hobby Your Business

How do you know when it’s time to stand out of your own way, dive in and become an entrepreneur to start your own business? Here are three surefire signs that your time is NOW:

1.You can’t stop obsessing about a better way

We often underestimate our own value as consumers. Many successful businesses, including Virgin (started by my former boss and mentor Richard Branson), get their start by one person being frustrated about the lack of quality options and doing something about it.

If you are constantly moaning that there has to be a better way, maybe it’s time to listen to yourself and do something about it. For example, I know a couple in Brooklyn, originally from Norway, who decided to raise their children here in the US. However, when they went to find quality alpaca and merino wool baby and children’s clothes (the kind they grew up with in Norway), they realized they couldn’t find any.

After some informal market research they realized there was indeed a market need, but no readily available supplier. So they contacted some manufacturers of these clothes back in Norway and struck some distribution deals. The result? Ellaswool.com recently opened online and is developing partnerships with stores up and down the east coast.

Do you find yourself spending more and more time trying to solve your “pet peeve”? Do your friends and family joke that it’s become a bit of an obsession? Maybe it’s time you took the leap (like my Norwegian friends) and followed through to see if your obsession has legs as a business idea.

2. Friends, family (even strangers) constantly encourage you to take the leap

Maybe you’ve already taken the first step to starting a new business, but have limited its scope to smaller, safer “friends and family” markets. Many times we are afraid to make the leap to becoming a broader scale entrepreneur because we are afraid there is not enough demand for our products and services – so we keep our passion as more of a hobby. And despite the overwhelmingly positive response to what we have to offer, we still find excuses not to go forward on a larger scale.

For example, my husband and his friend have been selling organic French crepes out of a makeshift stand at our local farmer’s market for over a year. Every Saturday they are the hit of the market, often they sell out of crepes before the official 1 pm closing time. And if I had a dollar for every time one of their customers asked whether they had a more permanent restaurant near by…  Well, I’d have a lot of cash.

Recently, they finally decided to take the leap and open Grenadine Creperie in our Westchester town. The response has been phenomenal. They are now asking themselves, “why did we wait so long?”.

Are you getting similar positive feedback and dismissing it as people “just being nice”? Maybe it’s time to start paying attention to that praise and looking at it more like market research.

[sc:optin]

3.Your day job has become a drain on your reputation, energy and health

What’s the real cost of delaying your dream? Often it can be your reputation, energy … and sometimes even your health. Many entrepreneurs come out when the sun goes down. They work 9 to 5 at a job they are no longer passionate about, but really come alive at night or on the weekends when they can spend time tending to their hobby or their sideline “passion” business.

This is understandable. After all there are bills to pay, college tuitions to save for, the necessary health care benefits that many day jobs cover. But for many entrepreneurs the downside of clocking in every day (for a significant part of your day), working for someone else when you’d rather be starting your own company, can have some tangible, negative consequences.

No matter how good an actor or actress you think you are, chances are your boss notices this dip in enthusiasm, and may even be secretly recording the office time you are using to make phone calls or search the web as research for your passion project. Over time this lack of commitment can lead to a damaged reputation, career stalls or even dismissal… and chances are it won’t be on your own terms.

Also, we all know someone who finally made the move to pursue their passion after a life-changing event brought on by stress (like a heart attack or cancer or someone close to them dying). Do you really want to wait until that happens to you? Or do you want to start something on a positive foot, when you still have your health and energy?

Sound familiar?

Do these examples hit a nerve? Is this year finally going to be the year that you invest in yourself and your dreams? I know it’s a very personal decision. But having started my own business this past year, I can say that my philosophy is that life really is too short and there really is no downside to failure. It’s just a dress rehearsal for ultimate success.

What do you do first? 

So what if you have taken the important first step and acknowledged you are ready to turn your passion into a business… What do you do first? Well, that’s tricky. But what you do during the period to tee up your new business can make a huge difference between success and failure.

For example, spending some time upfront developing your bulls eye target and your core brand promise, can help you crystallize your idea and help all the decisions that entrepreneurs need to make, that much easier and focused. Also, creating an identity and a name for your business can help make it more tangible and help others (potential partners, investors, employees) get more excited and want to help out. Whatever the path you take: The time to act is now. You need to invest in yourself, your future and your happiness.

How do you do that on limited time and budgets? 

Brand School by BrandTwist is the premier program specifically designed for entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them build their brands. Brand School takes best practices of beloved brands such as Virgin, Apple, and Zappos and brings them to life in engaging videos, interactive homework exercises and access to a private community of other entrepreneurs. Learn more about the next semester of Brand School HERE.

The time to act on your dreams is now.

“I received huge value from Brand School. You can’t put a price on that experience. I loved the integrated learning experience and  that we walked out of the series with a working brand strategy.” – Rachel W., Brand School Participant