Monday, January 20, 2014

No, don't push all the floor buttons

Let me out!
I just read an article on how to craft an elevator pitch, and MEGO! -- my eyes glazed over. I don't know much more than I did before I read it.

If you google "elevator pitch" you'll find a day's worth of reading. Read it if you want to kill a day. My task now is to not add to that pile of useless verbiage. You can give me a grade, if you wish. If I fail you can scrawl my phone number on the wall of an elevator with "for a real boring time, call ... "

Here are my thoughts.

1. You have to be brief. I watched a YouTube video of some guy who won an elevator pitch competition, and he just went on and on til I was lost. Don't do that.

2. If nothing else, be clear. I watched another video of a fellow who was some kind of pitch champion. He said his name, then said he is CEO of ... what? I didn't get it. I missed it. He said it too fast and without emphasis. Learn to pause. Silence is as powerful as sound.

Let me tell you a story about clarity. I created an LLC for my writing business, and the name I chose was "Sakka." That's the Japanese word for "writer." Clever, eh? I love the care and contemplation the Japanese give to their arts, including writing. That was the idea.

Well, the first thing I had to do with that company name was explain it. I had to take one step backward before I could get anywhere.

Don't get an elevator and tell someone you have a company called "Sakka." Please.

3. Go off in the woods for a day and contemplate yourself. You need to know who you really are and what you are really good at. When you come out of the woods, you can call this your USP. Sounds like some kind of computer thing, but it means "unique selling proposition."

There are way too many writers. I was a youngster on the business news staff of The Associated Press early in my career. One of the veterans popped my bubble one day. "Good writers," he said, "are a dime a dozen."

Oh great. 

So I need a USP. For 40 years people have paid me to write. Why? I need to understand that. 

My USP, I think, has something to do with: I've been around long enough to know what works and what doesn't, and I won't get you in trouble. I have enough to do without creating work for myself at your expense. I like to partner with people who are doing interesting work. You can trust me; I won't cheat you on hours or lazy writing. Some really smart people have paid me big bucks and like what I did for them.

Now I need to boil that down to a sentence. (All suggestions welcomed.)

I was once in an outplacement program -- the limbo companies send you to when they dump you. We sat around one day and practiced our elevator pitches.

I quickly realized that I only need to say: "I'm a writer."

This automatically leads the other person to: "Oh? What do you write?"

Then I am free to say anything. What I want to say is: "Whatever you will pay me to write."

Don't do that.

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