It’s said that the elevator pitch was created by Elisha Otis, of the Otis Elevator Company, in 1854. His company was the first in an era of very dangerous elevator use to create a cable locking system that revolutionized their safety. Elevators had a long history of terrible falls to this point. People didn’t trust them. So Otis devised a public demonstration of his new system. He stood in the elevator, had his assistant cut the cable, and the car went into freefall. Just before crashing, the cable locking system engaged, saving Otis, inspiring trust, and wowing the crowd.
From there–in sales and marketing lingo–the elevator pitch was born.
The basic concept is this: how can you quickly and efficiently inspire trust, demonstrate your product, and prove yourself in the time it takes an elevator to drop?
Salespeople have crafted short product statements for decades based on this concept. And we believe that freelance copywriters should add the elevator pitch to their own arsenal of copywriting tools.
Why Craft a Personal Statement?
OK. We get it. Creating a personal elevator pitch may seem a little…extra.
You’re a writer, not a salesperson. If you’re a furloughed worker with a ton of life experience but little freelance experience, this exercise might feel a little stilted. After all, you know who you are, right? And if you’re right out of college, you might be bursting with confidence about who you are, but when you attempt to share it, at times, the wrong words fall out of your mouth.
You can no longer define yourself by your full-time work if that job has evaporated. And you can’t align yourself with your college, or fraternity, or sports team, if all of that is behind you.
An elevator pitch is a summary of your present and your future, not your past. It’s about what you can offer to the person you’re speaking with at that moment, not only what you’ve done before. It’s about what you can do for them going forward.
As you move forward deliberately toward your goals, it’s important to be able to succinctly tell the world who you are and what you do. So call this whatever you’d like: an elevator pitch, a self-summary, an intro paragraph; regardless, this is one of the best copywriting tools to keep in your toolkit.
This is where you learn to give enough information in a quick few sentences to inspire trust, demonstrate what you offer, and give validity to who you are, and what you do.
An Elevator Pitch Has Four Basic Elements
- Who you are
- What you offer
- What problems you solve, and
- The future benefits to the person you’re speaking to.
Let’s start with who you are and what you offer. It’s more than your name.
If you worked for many years for the same employer, you’re probably used to saying something like, “I work for General Motors.” As a recent graduate, it may feel natural to say, “I’m a Sigma Chi at Ole Miss.”
It may be tempting to now say, “I used to work for GM; now I’m looking for work,” or “I’m a Sigma Chi, but I just graduated.”
Instead, try one of these:
- “I’m a freelance content creator.”
- “I’m a writer focusing on the banking sector.”
- “I’m a graphic designer for the music industry.”
The key to this is not to tell where you’ve been, but where you are now.
That’s the easy part. Now, when you’re discussing what problems you solve and the future benefits for whom you’re speaking to, it’s possible to get a bit tongue-tied. Take a few moments to think about the problems your potential clients may experience–do they need more organic traffic to their websites to drive engagement? You can employ the right copywriting tools and write content that’s fully optimized to fulfill that need.
If you’re open to a wide range of writing opportunities in print and the digital marketplace, you may find that your client’s diversity makes it difficult to say you solve just one problem for them. That’s ok, too.
“I’m a freelance content creator, and I shape my skills specifically for the needs of my clients.”
For the final portion of your elevator pitch, it’s important to finish with how your skills are relevant to the person you’re speaking to. As we’ll discuss frequently in the courses to come, for a potential client, one of the most important questions to answer is, “What’s in it for them?” You’ll need a succinct answer to this unasked question. In order to open a dialog, you must first pique their interest.
So, to piggy-back on the beginning of this elevator pitch, “I’m a freelance content creator, and I shape my skills specifically for the needs of my clients.”
- Add: “And I’m interested in what other people do and how I can help them grow their business.”
- Or “As a certified copywriter, I’ve learned to shape client’s messages and help them earn new clients through engaging content.”
- Or something more specific like, “I specialize in the banking sector. I can help your bank engage with more potential clients, and eventually, convert them from readers to long-term investors with you.”
After reading this blog, give yourself some time and space to write down different options that will work specifically for you as you engage with potential clients. And we can’t emphasize this enough: practice saying them aloud. This way, you’re always prepared pull out this great copywriting tool to succinctly engage in an opening conversation with a potential new client whenever the opportunity arises.
Practice, be concise, be open to dialog.
It’s important that you become comfortable talking about yourself this way. After all, your long-term plans and goals depend on the small-action steps you’re taking every day. By speaking confidently about what you can offer, you show that potential partner you’re capable of helping grow their business.
Another key tip regarding elevator pitches is simple: Don’t give them a flood of information so quickly that they can’t comprehend what you’re saying. Your goal is to open a dialog and to start a conversation, not simply to give them an info dump. Once the other person is talking, relax and listen. It’s important to be flexible and to learn what their needs are, so you can determine if you can provide solutions to those needs.
Your personal statement is more important now, more so than ever before. As you venture into the world of working for yourself, you’ll quickly realize you have to wear many hats–including salesperson. But we’ll discuss those roles more in future lessons. We’re here to bolster your chances for success by giving you some basic tools for landing new gigs. The elevator pitch might feel a little stilted at first. But with practice, you’ll see that this summary will grow and change, just as your freelance business does.
Tips for Writing your Elevator Pitch
- Crafting a personal summary is a tool to help you effortlessly pitch your services to a potential client.
- It’s not about what you used to do, but about what you can do now, and in the future, for your client.
- Always remember to answer the question, “What’s in it for them?”
- The elevator pitch consists of four elements: who you are, what you offer, what problems you solve, and the future benefits to the client if they work with you.
- The goal of the elevator pitch isn’t to give the person you’re speaking with an information dump. The goal is to open a dialog. Be flexible in your presentation and give room for them to talk, too.
Interested in creating a pitch deck to go along with your recently crafted elevator pitch? Check out our Freelance Copywriter PRO Pitch deck to add to your arsenal of copywriting tools.
Christina Rowell, Ph.D., is a content strategist at Content Workshop, Managing Director at Copywriter Exchange, and a former college writing instructor. She has over ten years of experience writing, editing, and creating content for healthcare, mental health, cybersecurity, and manufacturing clients.
At Copywriter Exchange, we’re a group of master content marketing pros who bring their diverse talents and backgrounds to bear on the art and science of creating high-performance content, tailored to your needs. We exist to help copywriters thrive in today’s economy by connecting them with the resources they need to step up their game. Join now to access our templates, guides, and courses to help you grow your career, skills, and network.