Monday, December 16, 2013

Pop Quiz on Your Elevator Speech

Try this at your next board meeting:

Board Chair: “OK. On a blank sheet of paper, write down our ministry’s elevator speech. Then, we’ll ask each board member to read what he or she wrote. Our CEO promises that if there’s alignment, we’ll get dessert with our meal!”

You know, of course, the definition of an elevator speech. It’s that succinct, compelling and powerful blurb you share with a person on a quick elevator ride. The Big Idea: by the time your elevator descends from the eighth floor to the first floor—you’ve briefly communicated the essence of your mission and your listener is enthusiastically asking for more information.

If your organization’s elevator speech is wordsmithed with precision, each board member can then customize your mini-story so it rolls out naturally with the right dose of personal passion and polish.
But if there is no agreed-upon elevator speech,
it’s likely your board, your staff and your key volunteers are mangling the mission and confusing potential clients, customers and givers.

The goal: get everyone on the same page—sharing the same elevator speech.

Yesterday, the Los Angeles Times ran a lengthy obituary on Russ Reid (1931 – 2013). His fundraising company, Russ Reid, serves rescue missions, ministries and other charities—and in 1966 helped put World Vision on the map.  The paper quotes Tom Harrison, Russ Reid’s chairman, who noted this about charities:
"These guys know how to do their work
but not how to tell their story."

The L.A. Times story added, “To many of them [nonprofit leaders], aggressive marketing was unseemly.

“In a 1987 talk to the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions, Reid recalled a pastor on a conference stage being worried about how to introduce him moments later.

"'Would it be possible for me to introduce you as anything other than the president of an advertising agency?’ the pastor whispered.

"’No,’ Reid responded. That's what I am.’"

It’s possible that some of your board members tilt towards the view that marketing, elevator speeches, and all the rest, is unseemly.  It’s not.

John Jantsch, author of Duct Tape Marketing: The World’s Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide, explains:
“Marketing is getting people who
have a specific need or problem 
to know, like and trust you.”

Jantsch pioneered the “Talking Logo” concept and says that when describing what your organization does, you must communicate three things:
“I show.
I teach.
I help.”

That preaches! Imagine the impact if every board member of every Christ-centered organization could succinctly articulate their elevator speech—and their Kingdom ministry—with this simple three-point pattern: We show. We teach. We help.

QUESTION: So…what is your ministry’s elevator speech? Does it prompt the listener’s next question, “Wow! Tell me more!”

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