The Escalator Pitch: Speak Small but Think Big


Forget the elevator pitch. Forget the press release. Forget the PowerPoint deck. How do you condense your message to escalator-pitch length to reach customers, potential investors and press.

Profy co-founder Svetlana Gladkova (Profy is a new blogging platform), suggests the message should start with the people behind the product, rather than an outside public relations or marketing firm. "When you're actually talking about your own product, it's your idea," she says. "You will find the words." If you can't, it may be a sign that your product is not distinct from competitors, she says.

Unknown startups should also think of escalator pitches as the foundations for their brands, says Vinnie Lauria, co-founder of online forum company Lefora. Lauria, whose seven-person San Francisco company launched the service in April, takes the same approach when presenting to venture capitalists, beginning and ending his slide show with "forums made easy." "If you have to take more than a sentence to explain your service, people aren't going to wrap their heads around it," he says.

Social media pioneer Stowe Boyd, who now takes pitches only via Twitter, acknowledges some companies may resist the idea. But he also says some PR people have told him they favor the process. "The real value isn't how many commas you put into an e-mail. It's really about how effective you are about getting people who are interested to take a call or a meeting," he says.

And with your audience drowning in more noise than ever, cutting your message to fortune-cookie length may be the best chance you have at getting their attention.

This article is an excerpt of a larger version of text written John Tozzi, who covers small business for BusinessWeek Online.




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