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November 14, 2012


The Online Elevator Pitch in Marketing

by Tom De Baere

Recently I bumped into a video on Youtube in which they explained how to draft your Elevator Pitch.

It made me immediately think about how we marketers build our messaging.

Too often I see advertisements, promotional e-mails or websites, which just don’t make sense, because they try to convey way too much information, which makes the message “fuzzy”.

Or if the message is very short, it is a 2-layered message which is difficult to “decode” on the receiving end.

Everyone wants to have a great Elevator Pitch. But how do we get that concept into our marketing?

How do you do that?

How do you leave a powerful and impactful impression?

If you ever wanted to defend your great idea, or your great new product, you know how difficult it can be synthesize your message to the core, which means “killing off” your favorite parts of the full story.

Most people talk way to long, write too much, and bring to much level of detail. They don’t know when to give little information, and when to give more.

Creating an elevator pitch is about “killing your darlings”.

And so is creating a strong message to your target audience: “kill your darlings”. Weed out everything you don’t need. Go back to what really counts for the end-user.

The online Elevator Pitch

We live in a digital world, where photos, images, audio and video have become really important. Just look at the success of Pinterest, Slideshare or Instagram.

And online, people will only give you a few seconds of attention.

You literally only have a few seconds to pass on your message, to make a good impression, and make them want to know more.

A few seconds.

That’s why, as in the classic elevator pitch “wisdom”, you should not use more than 3 key messages.

Once you have their attention for a few seconds

And when you have their attention, provide an easy way to dig in deeper, without drowning them immediately into an overwhelming amount of information.

This is what I call a layered communication:

  • 1 key message,
  • Going to only a few sub-messages,
  • Going to really little snippets of text explaining your submessages.
  • and then provide links to even more information.

The way you structure it, horizontal, vertical, whatever… is up to you. But what counts is that you bring the message “layered”.

Fast track and slow track information

Some call it fast track and slow track information; others call it “an information architecture”. That’s all fine.

But what counts is give users a really easy way of decoding and digesting what you want to bring across.

People first want to scan quickly the information you have for them (fast track). And once they are interested, the are gradually brought to the details (slow track).

Failing to respect these layers will result in people skipping your messaging, and just feel annoyed by it.

Some website examples

Applying the online elevator pitch can be done in advertising, print media, websites, etc… Let’s take the example of the Apple & Microsoft website.

Apple iPad Mini: a good example

I can’t help it, but yes Apple is a great example. They layer their information.

First they start of by their key message: the iPad mini is just like the big one.

Their sub-messages are about the experience your have, the display, the large amount of Apps still compatible with the mini, and Ultrafast wireless.

4 sub-messages. That’s it. Each of them accompanied with an image. And from the sub-messages you can dig deeper into the details.







You can clearly see how they layer their messaging when we zoom in into one of the sub-messages:

  • Layer 1: The full iPad experience
  • Layer 2: There’s less of it, but no less to it.
  • Layer 3 : some text
  • A link to more information


Microsoft Windows 8: a less good example

No, I am not an Apple fan-boy (well, maybe I am a little bit) . But I also love Windows 8.

But looking at the “Online Elevator Pitch” of the Windows 8 website, you can immediately see what’s missing:

  • The key message is “A beautiful start”. That’s good, although I think it already takes some decoding, but anyway.
  • The sub-messages are only 4, so that’s good.
  • The problem is that the sub-message is not layered. You can clearly see that in the image below.

There’s no smooth transition between “Live updates at a glance” and the text.

And because there is no transition, it takes a lot of effort from the reader to go from title to text.

And that’s where you might loose them.

That’s it. I hope you find this useful. If you have more powerful ways of bringing an “online elevator pitch”, please do let me know. Always keen on learning.

Warm regards,

Tom De Baere.