The art of the elevator speech

Running my own communications business is a new endeavor. I’ve worked for other people – other companies – for my entire career; so while I’m used to talking about “we” meaning “my company,” it’s novel for me to discuss “we” meaning “I.”

Several weeks ago, I was taken aback when a neighbor asked what kind of business I’m in. After an embarrassing amount of hemming, hawing and clearing my throat, I managed to tell her I’m in organizational communication. To this she replied, “So you, like, write newsletters?” Yikes. It was at that moment that I decided I needed a good elevator speech.

Driving consensus about your company’s “elevator speech” is an effective way to drive engagement and build a shared identity.

I’m an above-average writer, but this job called for more than just writing skill; I needed marketing expertise. Fortunately, I have a friend who is in that business. I decided to enlist her help in thinking this through. What is the Betty Henry Communications (BHC) elevator speech? Or, to her way of thinking, what is the BHC brand positioning statement?

Lucky for me, Linda Stephens knows her stuff. We spent only an hour or so on the telephone, with Linda asking all the right questions. Essentially, I explained to her that

  • I thought “making the complicated simple” was my life’s work,
  • my target audience would be companies that had a large enough workforce that it would make economic sense to hire me and
  • BHC would be a good choice for customers because I have high expertise and low overhead.

Linda felt she had enough information to take a stab at the first draft.

Now here’s the reason it makes sense to hire someone who knows what she’s doing: Linda came back to me a week later with an explanation of how she approached this – the formula she used – and of how she applied it to me.

The basic formula: For [target audience], [brand name] is the [frame of reference] that delivers [benefit/point of difference] because only [brand name] is [reason to believe].

The formula as Linda applied it to me: For senior level executives at large companies, Betty Henry is the communications consultant who delivers executive-level communication strategy, implementation and measurement services because only Betty Henry quickly provides adept message refinement that makes complex strategies simple to authentically and creatively engage stakeholders.

Admittedly, this is a mouthful, and not something I would likely say to someone. We worked further to massage and refine it. But, the discussion helped me focus – in a way that I hadn’t previously – on the work I want to do, who I want to do it with and what value I can uniquely provide.

Why am I telling you this? Because I believe my experience can be translated into your employee communications program. When someone asks your employees what they do, do they have an articulate answer? With a little encouragement, employees can be powerful brand ambassadors. Driving consensus about your company’s “elevator speech” is an effective and creative way to drive engagement and build a shared identity.

Does your company have an elevator speech? Do your employees know it?

© 2019 Betty Henry Communications