Ditch Your Elevator Speech Part 2: Have a Point of View

by Marcia Hoeck

A point of view is your perspective about something that evokes conversation.

It begins with statements like, “The way I see it . . .” or “From my perspective . . .” or “The thing I’ve learned about . . .” followed by a belief. Even if people disagree, they’ll begin to see things from your point of view and get engaged in a conversation. This conversation will help you learn more about your clients, and help your clients learn more about you in a way that helps form bonds and foster involvement. You’re talking, not just stating.

Your point of view should be easy to understand and remember, and easy to talk about in your own words, so it doesn’t have to be memorized like an elevator speech. With a company point of view, everyone in the organization can have interesting things to talk about with various audiences, including clients, the media, and peers. It can help people understand what the organization is actually all about, shape their feelings about us, and provoke thinking. The following are “musts” for a point of view.

Lois Kelly’s 10 characteristics of a point of view

1. A point of view must be engaging
It must evoke a response and start conversations rather than just informing.

2. A point of view must be true
The more evidence to support your point of view, the greater your credibility.

3. A point of view must be relevant
The more relevant to the audience, the more interested people will be.

4. A point of view must be genuine
You and your organization must truly believe in the idea — there’s no faking it.

5. A point of view must be fresh
No one wants to hear old ideas, but sometimes a non-original point of view can be framed and expressed in a new way to discover new insights.

6. A point of view must connect the dots
Your point of view should connect somehow to your business vision or strategy — otherwise, it’s just talk.

7. A point of view must be memorable
You’ll want your point of view to be easy to remember and stick in a person’s head.

8. A point of view must be “talk-able”
You’ll want your point of view to be easy for people to talk about in their own words, and tell stories around. It should jump start two-way conversations.

9. A point of view must be “leggy”
Your point of view should resonate with multiple audiences, and be able to be communicated through multiple communication channels. You’ll be using it to build marketing and promotion around, so it has to be flexible and have “legs.”

10. A point of view must be likeable
People have to like talking about your point of view, or they won’t.

Your point of view is in addition to, not in place of, your organization’s vision, mission, values, positioning, value proposition, and other marketing elements you may use. It’s another tool in your marketing toolbox, and one that you can pull out in place of your elevator speech.

Not very many organizations use this approach, at least not consciously and consistently. If you do it, you’ll stand out. People will say, “That’s interesting. Tell me more.”

Ditch your elevator pitch. Instead come up with a unique perspective for your company that fosters conversation and dialog.

Quick Tips
Come up with a point of view (or several) that your entire company can talk about in their own words, and watch what happens. A few years ago when I first heard about this, I was on a flight to a high-profile women’s business conference and jotted down some thoughts. In the first session of the conference, I was seated next to a McDonald’s Corporation executive. When she asked me what I did, instead of telling her I owned a marketing communications firm in Toledo, Ohio, or some other boring elevator stuff, I took a deep breath and said something like this, “Companies think they need to talk about their products and services, while I think what they really need to do is reveal more about ‘who’ they are as a company and how that relates to the product and or service, so customers can connect with them on an emotional level.” Before I could continue and wrap that around to my business and me, she stopped me with — and I swear this is the honest to goodness truth — “Oh, that’s so interesting. I really like looking at connection first.” And we were off and running. Connecting with customers on an emotional level first, and relating that to products and services second, became our company point of view. There was no script, and everyone talked about it in their own words.

Dig Deeper!
Check out “Ditch Your Elevator Speech” in Parse

Get ahold of Lois Kelly’s book, Beyond Buzz: The Next Generation of Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Do some research of your own for elevator speech alternatives. There are lots of great blog posts and articles written about this subject, and many thoughtful conversations out there. Actually, elevator speeches are the easy, lazy way out — and that’s why they don’t work very well. We’ve all just blindly accepted them, and not bothered to look for better ways to communicate. Just google “why elevator speeches don’t work.” Or be creative.

Learn tips from Marcia Hoeck on how to strengthen your business.

Your turn. What’s your point of view? Do you have any other ideas for answering the “So, what do you do?” question?