An elevator pitch is a useful promotional tool when meeting new industry contacts face to face at networking events and conventions. It’s called an elevator pitch because it's intended to grab a person’s immediate attention and hold his or her interest within the time of a short elevator ride.
An elevator pitch must be well written and well rehearsed. While you may have to create a variety of different pitches based on who (booking agents, bloggers, sponsors, etc.) you're pitching, let’s take a look at the essential elements that you should always have prepared.
1. Introduce yourself memorably
Be prepared to state your personal name and title along with an interesting and memorable twist. For instance, I might say, “Hey there, my name is Bobby Borg. Borg – as in one of the Cyborg characters on Star Trek.” While this is a little silly, it’s memorable and can help break the ice and get a smile.
2. Flatter the person your pitching
Consider complimenting the person you're approaching. If at a convention, you might congratulate a speaker on his or her inspiring keynote presentation. Just don’t overdo it. You don’t want to sound like an over-excited fan.
3. State how you and your music are unique
Succinctly describe what you do and how you're unique. Are you a Native American rapper who draws awareness to indigenous rights (like Frank Walin), or a solo jazz guitarist who triggers robots to play multiple instruments on stage (like Pat Metheny)? Whatever makes you unique, just be sure to state it concisely.
4. Hype your band or solo project
Include one or two of your most impressive accomplishments to build credibility. You might state that you are the recent recipient of the John Lennon Songwriting Competition, or a runner-up on the latest season of The Voice.
5. Sell the benefits
State how you can help the person you're pitching. In other words, don’t focus on you; focus on the other person. For instance, you might say, “Given our upcoming tour with Band X, I’m confident that as an endorser of Pearl drums, I would get your company significant exposure and help generate healthy sales.”
6. Set up a meeting
Schedule a meeting where you can provide more information about what you have to offer. Prepare two convenient times and locations – a technique appropriately called the “two positive choices close.” For instance, you might say: “Can I buy you lunch in the hotel restaurant this Sunday at 12:30 p.m., or meet for a beverage in the lobby bar tonight at 8:00 p.m.?" Either solution meets your goal.
7. Have more detailed information ready
Have a detailed summary (or what I call a “Shark Tank Pitch”) ready for your follow-up meeting. You might say more about your long-term vision, how you plan to generate income, what your short-term goals are, how you plan to promote your career, how much money you may need to fund the project, what your biggest risks are, and how you plan to reduce these risks.
8. Respond well to objections
Make a list of the things people may say in disagreement of what you have to offer, and create a series of wise answers. For instance, if a manager says that he or she isn't currently looking for new clients, you might respond with, “I understand that you get pitched every five minutes by unknown acts at a convention like this, but we know you’ll be absolutely impressed with our performance and draw. Can we send you an Uber to our show tonight and cover the tab for you and a guest? Would 7:00 or 7:30 p.m. be best?”
While this is an aggressive move on your part, many people will appreciate your salesmanship. Just be sure to always smile, don’t stand too close to the person you're pitching, and pay attention to body language. It’s important to know when enough is enough.
9. Give (and get) a business card
Offer to provide a business card to the person you're pitching. (In the best case, your business card should a unique shape or design to set it apart from the pack.) Ask kindly for a card in return, and be sure to follow up in a week or two (or as otherwise directed) from the initial meeting.
Write your pitch and practice reading it while changing the speed and tone of your voice. The point is to not sound like a robot. Once you get the hang of it, try reciting your pitch by memory and ask a friend to role-play with you.
A great elevator pitch can mean the difference between getting that manager endorsement or music placement, and getting nowhere. So take this all very seriously!
Bobby Borg is the author of a series of books: Business Basics for Musicians, Music Marketing for the DIY Musician, and Five Star Music Makeover. These books are available at www.bobbyborg.com/store. For a limited-time special offer, get either Business Basics For Musicians or Music Marketing for the DIY Musician with a free CD and DVD for only $21.99 (a $70 value) at www.bobbyborg.com/store.