15 Is the New 30: Introducing The 15-Second Elevator Pitch

Elevator Pitch Competition

For the past few weeks, I've been squawking about how amazing the 2011 Black Enterprise Entrepreneur's Conference turned out to be. One of the most exciting events was the Elevator Pitch Competition.  The winner took home a whopping prize of $10k (congrats to our home town hero Brandon Butler of The Website Shop).   Contestants were first given 60 seconds to pitch their product or service, and finalists were allowed 30 seconds to re-pitch.  This competition was geared towards investors, and I couldn't help but think that a pitch to an ACTUAL prospect should be much shorter and sweeter.

15 is the New 30

For the last 4 years, I have been training clients to perfect a 15-second pitch.  The premise is to make the pitch feel more like a conversation than a used car salesman's chatter.  One trait of a successful brand is the ability to remain acutely aware of trends. Ever notice how quickly people get distracted or bored these days?  As we embrace the trend of the 'microwave' age (age of  instant access), its pretty clear that Attention Spans have become shorter and shorter. recently posted an article siting that the 15-second commercial is becoming increasingly more popular (READ FULL ARTICLE).   So if major brands are limiting their message to 15 seconds, why shouldn't you?

Potential clients only give you their undivided focus for about 3-7 seconds before they decide to stay plugged in or check out.  If they remain plugged in, then you have a good chance of connecting within the 15 second window.  I know what you are thinking.  How can you possibly say everything relevant in 15 seconds?  The short answer is that you can't, nor do you need to.  If the client is interested after the first 15 seconds, they will engage you and ask for more information. Often times you can squeeze in another 15-30 seconds of your spiel. And if your pitch resonates, you can get in up to 1 or 2 minutes of your sales pitch without making the client feel bored or anxious.

Part 1: Key Content for the First 15 Seconds

  • Clearly state the company name
  • Identify the primary service
  • State the clear results that you deliver
  • You may also include a secondary service or unique selling proposition of time permits.
See this example below.  It is delivered in about 14.5 seconds (un-rushed)
"My company is The Brand Coach, based in Atlanta. We offer business, personal and celebrity brand development services.   We help our clients build  solid brands that they leverage LONG term, to increase their brand equity. "
If the prospect is interested they will ask for more details, like "So who have you worked with?" or "I could use some help, explain the services you offer?".    That is your queue to launch the second half of your pitch.

Part 2:  Beyond the First 15

The second half of your pitch should focus on your Unique Selling Proposition, and success stories.  It is important for prospects to understand the difference between you and your competitors.  People also relate more to stories than sales strategy, it creates a comfort zone when one feels like they are speaking to an old friend.  However, be sure your stories are something your listener might relate to.

Lastly, it is important to practice the pitch to perfection while maintaining flexibility with it.  Prospects might interrupt you to find out more about a service or to interject a specific need that they have.  You should be prepared to take any direction with the conversation.  It is also a good idea to have multiple versions of your pitch, just in case you need an alternative.

Note: If there are multiple members of your sales team.  They should have have the same content in their elevator pitch, but personalized to fit each person's speaking pattern.  The parroting effect will allow consumers to formulate a clear snapshot of your brand no matter where it is encountered.

Bowing Out

Sometimes the listener will give you a flat "Ohhhh I see."  That is a clear sign that their interest has not been peeked.  At that point I would encourage you to ask about them. Listen intently for a need that you might be able to fill.  But stay focused on the quality of the conversation.  When prospects like you, they will exercise more patience in getting to know you and what you have to offer.  But everyone you engage won't have an interest, sometimes you should simply bow out and find a better connection.

Addition Credits: See video spotlight of Brandon Butler at The Website Shop (Atlanta)

Happy Branding Everyone…

You can continue this conversation on Twitter @brandcoachllc or on

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Comment by Patricia McClain Osborne on July 3, 2011 at 4:45am

Excellent information. I believe I do have a good 15 second elevator pitch. Needs some perfecting in delivery. I have experience the engagement of prospective clients it's the follow-up that needs attention.

Thanks for the post. You have inspired me.

Comment by Donna Marie Johnson on June 30, 2011 at 10:13pm
Ok, Monique Long, it worked on me. I think I need to hear more. :)
Comment by Monique Long on June 22, 2011 at 10:49pm

"My company is ZORA TV, based in Atlanta, yet we are national and global. We provide Black Women with online video programming and resources that are positive, affirming and defy stereotypes; by doing so, we have also created a marketplace for small businesses to reach, on a Fortune 500 scale, our niche market... Black Women.".


Okay Jai... how was that?  I timed it... 15 seconds!

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