The Elevator Pitch Formula I’ve Used with 115+ Startups

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How to pitch your company and uncover your value proposition with an elevator pitch formula used by VC-backed startups.

Today, I want to talk about the most important thing for any startup:

Your Elevator Pitch

Now, this isn’t the pitch for investors.  This is the pitch for your customers.

Here is a prove framework I have used with over 115 startups while working with startup accelerators like Techstars, WeWork Labs, and General Assembly.  It’s an 8 step pitched used for uncovering a brand’s true value proposition. 

This is helpful for anyone that keeps getting stuck when writing landing page copy or ad copy.

Start by filling out the elevator pitch formula below. 

Warning: This exercise is frustrating. On tip, embrace getting very specific with the “target customer.”

Here is the elevator pitch formula:

ELEVATOR PITCH FORMULA

For (target customer)
Who (statement of need or opportunity),
(Product name) is a (product category)
That (statement of key benefit).
Unlike (competing alternative)
(Product name) (statement of primary differentiation).

To help, here is an example of the pitch for my company, GrowthHit. 

ELEVATOR PITCH EXAMPLE:

For (CEOs of online websites in ecommerce and lead generation)
Who (want to grow their sales without increasing ad spend or traffic),
(GrowthHit) is (your outsourced growth team)
That (runs data-driven growth experiments).
Unlike (hiring a head of growth that might not work out)
(Growthhit) (runs a proven growth process that’s driven over $247M in sales and helped companies raise over $100M. And we can start in 2 weeks!)

This pitch formula helps you uncover the key elements that a potential customer cares about. 

WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH?

Next, take those copy elements from the pitch formula and bake them into your landing page, your ads and your email flows. 

It’s helpful to use one of the following copy structures for presenting the value prop you created with the pitch.  Check out the structures below: 

STRUCTURE 1: Feature First

What 3-5 features will (do) users love?  Do these features clearly solve a problem or pain?

STRUCTURE 2: Benefit Focused

What’s are the benefits to the user? (EX: Save time, save money or “wow” them.)

STRUCTURE 3: Problem > Solution

What problem are you solving? What pain point or you tackling? 

STRUCTURE 4: Show a Use Case

Show don’t tell. How do people use it? My favorite example of this is SPANX when they don’t “talk” about shapewear but they show you how to “hide panty lines” with Spanx. Specificity sells!   

STRUCTURE 5: Aspirational

How do you help someone fulfill their goals?

Want more information around startup marketing?  Here are the slides from my talk about WeWork labs about Growth Marketing for Startups. Also, here is a video of my talk on startup growth with the VC firm Circle Up. Watch the Video right here.

Jim Huffman

Founder & CEO GrowthHit. Startup mentor at Techstars, General Assembly, and Sephora Accelerator. Author of The Growth Marketer’s Playbook #1
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