Storytelling For SMEs: The Elevator Pitch Re-Invented

elevator pitch - compete to be number oneStorytelling is playing an increasingly important role in SME marketing.

Recently, Forbes contributor and CEO of Advertising and Marketing agency PJA , Phil Johnson, named storytelling as “the hottest trend in marketing today”; and what works for big business can often be adapted for smaller and medium-sized businesses as well.

Your prospect SME customers are hungry for a clear and concise marketing message, one with a convincing story behind it.

What is Storytelling (for business)?

Storytelling, is a content marketing device sometimes used by large companies to sell complicated products or services. It can also be used to the advantage of SMEs.

Just think of how complicated and varied your market can be, especially when you do business online. This is why a simple story is important if you want your audience to notice you and engage with you.

Storytelling Basics – The Elevator Pitch Re-Invented

How can you develop a short and powerful story? Remember the elevator pitch? While previously the elevator pitch was primarily devised to bring across a business’ value proposition, which is “a promise of value to be delivered and a belief from the customer that value will be experienced” according to Wikipedia, now the classic elevator pitch has had a makeover.

The New Elevator Pitch - What’s Your Story Hook?

The new elevator pitch enables every entrepreneur to tell his or her story in thirty seconds. Following the concepts of good storytelling, the story has to tap into the emotions of potential customers. But first you need to get their attention; this is done with a strong hook.

A strong hook could be an anecdote or an interesting fact, something that is revelatory of the uniqueness of your brand; this is also referred to as your USP (unique selling proposition).

For a good story, your brand must also have an ESP (emotional selling proposition).

Define Your USP and ESP

Secondly, you need to let your potential customers know how you, and only you, can solve their problems because you understand them so well.

Use “Adjacent Stories” to Support Your ESP and USP

Thirdly, you will need a conclusion. Here is where you provide evidence of your success in business, for example, by naming an endorsement and/or listing customers/clients who’ve benefited from your product or service (aka case studies).

These endorsements and case studies,  also referred to as adjacent stories,  should follow the same rules as telling your brand story.

In a Nutshell..

In short, your story needs a beginning, a middle, and an end to adhere to proper storytelling technique.

A good elevator pitch fits on the back of a drip mat (beer mat), something that comes in handy if you were to find yourself at a reception or business related event.

The most important thing about the elevator speech, however, is not to keep it ultra-short but to make it compelling and clear. It needs to arouse curiosity and be easy to understand at the same time.

If you conduct much of your business online, and you are not specifically in the business-to business trade, then write your pitch aiming at a 10th grade level or below. You can check the reading level in an MS Word document with the readability statistics feature..

The advantage of storytelling over the old elevator pitch is that you create vivid images that are memorable to people. Stop informing your potential customers, and inspire them instead. Make your audience feel something.

Over to You

Does your business have a story to tell?  Share your experience below or submit your story at

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New Age AdMan & proud father of 2 incredible kids. Omar is Chief Strategy Officer at Sandstorm Digital; a new age brand communications agency. Omar has over 20 years experience in marketing and advertising, the last 10 being in digital within large media agency environments. During that time, Omar developed and implemented cutting edge digital campaigns for some of the world's best known brands. For the latest in digital marketing and industry news updates, follow Omar's Twitter stream (@OmarKattan) or add him to one of your Google+ Circles: Omar Kattan's Google+ Profile.

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