I was on the phone with a client the other day (we’re approaching the end of an 8-month engagement), and he said to me how much of an impact the work that has been developed has had on his confidence as a business owner. Nice compliment. Intuitively we always knew that the process of developing a brand had value that was far greater than the deliverables in any given project, but it took us a few years to truly understand that at the core of building a business (ours or others) is the ability to clearly define that value to a prospective client or customer.

The idea of a value-based elevator pitch was first presented to us about 10 years ago – when we were far too dumb to really understand what it meant. One of our oldest clients (and friends) owns a great professional development company named PMA Philadelphia. He (Gene) said to us that we needed to develop our “elevator pitch.” Pretty straightforward, we thought, so we bumbled some sentence together about how we “develop logos and websites for companies.” What we missed, what Gene pointed out, and what we simply weren’t seasoned enough to understand was that while logos and websites are very much at the core of what we do (from the standpoint of a “product”), they don’t at all speak to the value that we provide to our clients – the byproducts of that work.

In the case of [whitepenny], there is obviously always an end result to our projects – a logo, a campaign, a website. But what we’ve come to learn is that the real value actually comes in two other areas: 1) the dialogue and discovery process that produces those end results, and 2) what happens after a company adopts and “owns” their new brand strategy. Whether it’s described as confidence, an increase in sales, or a better talent pool from which to choose, the outcome that we hope to provide is always greater than the sum of its visual-identity-parts, and it always leads back to the fact that someone now has a rock-solid understanding of their company’s core message. That’s our value.

But that’s us. What can you do? It’s actually easier than you think. Start here:

  1. Define what you do (the nuts and bolts) – make a list of what you offer
  2. Now ask yourself what impact those things (tasks, products, etc.) have on your target audience. What are the byproducts of your nuts and bolts? What can your clients do now that they couldn’t do before?

And that’s it. From there, you’re well on your way to answering the elevator pitch question in a way that doesn’t sound like a list of crappy tasks that could be found on any of your competitors’ websites.