How to Sell Your Idea in 27 Seconds
Wonder what you would do if you were riding in an elevator with one of the judges from the American Inventor TV show?
Our Guest Blogger, Tim Whitney, is a bit of a contest nut. He's the National Grand Prize Winner of the KeyCite Key to Good Law Contest, and a national finalist in both the 2005 Staples Invention Quest and Digital Innovations Design-Originality-Creativity Awards. His background in law, marketing and design helps him bring a critical and analytical eye to the inner workings of these contests in an effort to advise and inform entrants and help them make the most of these and other opportunities to promote their ideas. Tim gives us some tips on how to pitch your invention in 27 seconds (30 seconds or less).
Here's his article:
In the marketing/branding world, there's this thing called the "elevator pitch." Basically, what it means is that you get on an elevator with a complete stranger, they ask what you/your company/your invention does, and you have the length of the elevator ride to explain it to them in a compelling way. If you've ever entered an online contest, invention or otherwise, you know they make you do a version of this in "X words or less", and you also know it can be an excruciating exercise.
But the reality is that developing your elevator pitch is a crucial discipline in the promotion of your product. On the phone, at a trade show, in line at the supermarket...you will rarely have more than 30 seconds to state your claim and leave your mark, and if you can't come up with a compellingly simple presentation, your chances of progress drop precipitously.
So how do you structure a pitch in 150 words or less? Here are some tips for the basic structure, along with an example:
First: State your "hook". In one sentence, state what your product does and what need it addresses. Do not use buzz words like "paradigm shift" or "synergy". Use personal, human, emotional words.
Ex: The Magic Tie takes the hassle out of tying a tie.
Second: Elaborate on the hook. Go into a little more detail about what the product does without using jargon.
Ex: It's a pre-tied necktie with an elastic loop that goes under your collar, but it's covered with the same fabric as the tie, so it looks like a full tie.
Third: Broaden your scope. Talk about the need your product addresses in terms of how widespread it is, thereby implying there is a large market for it.
Ex: It's designed for men who normally don't even own a tie, but have to go to a wedding, funeral, or other suit-and-tie event. With business casual everywhere and so many non-tie-wearing men, tie-tying is becoming less and less of a necessary skill.
Fourth: Acknowledge the current context. State how your product tackles the need differently than other products out there. Note: Never EVER suggest that no one has thought about it except you.
Ex: Sure you can get a clip-on, but people can recognize clip-ons and God forbid you ever get caught with a clip-on. The Magic Tie is a top quality tie that you can put on in about three seconds.
Fifth: Reiterate the hook. String together some practical, personal and emotional adjectives to help the listener remember.
Ex: It's the fastest, easiest way to make you look like you stepped out of GQ.
Total number of words: 140. Total time to read: 20 seconds.
Is your elevator pitch ready?