There are many unique terms used in the business world. It seems to me that many of these terms are jargon. ‘Jargon’ is defined as “special words or expressions that are used by a particular profession or group and are difficult for others to understand”. Case-in-point: Value Proposition. The term Value Proposition was born in 1988 by a group of consultants. The concept already existed, but I believe they created this new term so they could charge more for their services. They took an existing concept and changed the name, so they had something ‘new’ to sell. I prefer the old name, Elevator Speech. Both terms are equally descriptive, but the term Elevator Speech implies a sense of urgency; your audience is about to leave so you must grab their attention quickly.
Your Value Proposition is simply your Elevator Speech.
You and I get on an elevator. We push the buttons for our floors, and then stare straight forward until our floor comes up, then we depart. How long does this take? About a minute. Instead of staring straight ahead, what if you turned to me and before we arrived at my floor, you told me what your business does. What product or service do you offer to your customers? How is your product or service different from all the other businesses that also offer similar products or services? What is the value for the customer? Why should they choose you over these other businesses? Tell me all that before the ‘ding!’ and the doors open because I must go. Otherwise, you and I are holding up the elevator and that is bad form. You’ve got less than a minute to tell me all that. Choose your words wisely, it is your only chance.
That’s why it is called an Elevator Speech.
There are some masters in the pizza business who have reduced the Elevator Speech from one minute down to mere seconds. Nothing wrong with that. Consultants call this shortened version a ‘Unique Selling Proposition”. I call this the one-floor version of the Elevator Speech.
Three of the most impressive one-floor Elevator Speeches in the Pizza business are these:
‘Better Ingredients, Better Pizza’
‘30 Minutes or Free’
These brilliant Elevator Speeches take less time than the doors of the elevator closing to begin your 30 second trip to your floor. They grab attention, and if you can’t immediately figure out what they mean, they can be explained during the ride. Little Caesar’s ‘Pizza, Pizza’ meant that you got two pizzas for the same price that other pizzerias charged for one pizza. Papa John’s ‘Better Ingredients, Better Pizza’ meant that they had a better-quality pizza than similarly priced pizzas. Domino’s ‘30 Minutes or Free’ meant that your pizza would be delivered to your door within
30 minutes of the time you ordered it, or your pizza would be free of charge.
An Elevator Speech should grab attention and be memorable. It is not supposed to close the sale, just be something the listener can understand and consider. There is an expression in the public speaking business, “Be short and be seated”, which applies here. The longest Elevator Speech should be two sentences.
Your turn. What is your Elevator Speech? The two vital elements of an Elevator Speech for your pizzeria are value and differentiation. Michael Skok’s article in Forbes magazine “Four Steps To Building A Compelling Value Proposition” perfectly describes the best way to start. Answer these five questions:
- What product or service do you offer?
- Who is your target customer?
- What problem does your product or service solve for the customer?
- How does your product or service benefit the customer?
- What differentiates you from competitors?
Let’s test some answers:
- Anyone who is hungry
- We deliver so you don’t have to leave your couch
- You don’t have to cook
- We have the best pizza in town
What do you think? Is this compelling? Does it grab your attention and is it memorable? Does it offer value? Does it differentiate you from your competitors? Of course not! Yet these answers are what many pizzerias use to try to sell their products and services. Let’s test some alternative answers:
- Original Detroit-style pizza
- If you haven’t experienced a true Detroit-style pizza, you haven’t lived life to the fullest
- You can’t get a true Detroit-style anywhere else unless you travel to Detroit
- We offer a large Detroit Special for $19.99 that is TWICE the weight of a regular pizza.
- Instead of throwing away the pizza crust, you will enjoy eating the crust as much as the rest of the pizza. You’ll want to eat it backwards!
Is your mouth watering yet? Wasn’t that fun? Putting your work, your goals and your passion into words so that others can experience them is the most important part of building your dream. Now all we must do is reduce these five sentences to two sentences to create our Elevator Speech.
“Authentic Detroit-style pizza you’ll want to eat crust-first. Get a Large
Detroit Special for only $19.99.”
This is an example, not an actual pizzeria. But if Shawn Randazzo had ever moved to California, I bet he would have crushed it. RIP Shawn; we love you.
If your Elevator Speech includes price, then you are at risk of falling to our market’s greatest current threat: inflation. While price can certainly always demonstrate value for your customer, including it in your Elevator Speech can be dangerous. Our imaginary pizzeria (and your pizzeria) may fare better by demonstrating value in other ways. Let us test that by changing our Elevator Speech:
“Authentic Detroit-style pizza you’ll want to eat crust-first. 5 pounds of deliciousness.”
This provides the two vital elements of Value and Differentiation for the customer yet insulates the Elevator Speech from the threat of inflation.
Now it’s your turn. Next time we meet on the elevator at the International Pizza Expo, I want to hear YOUR Elevator Speech!
DAN COLLIER is the founder of Pizza Man Dan’s in California and a speaker at International Pizza Expo.