Do You Have an Elevator Picture?


You're at a networking event, at a restaurant, or actually on an elevator and you bump into someone new. Does this sound familiar? "Hello, my name is [Your Name]."

"I'm Susan."

"Nice to meet you, Susan."

"Likewise. So, tell me what you do?"

Cue your elevator pitch, right? Hang on a minute there! Before you launch into it, consider this:

Business people are just like real people with suits on - they have been upgraded with eye, ear, brain, and thumb bionics by the techno-surgeons Apple, YouTube, Twitter, Hulu, Nintendo, and DirecTV. The calm multi-taskers of yesteryear are now frenetic info-inhaling, media-gobbling poly-taskers. Words alone are too 2D for them.

So how do you capture Susan's interest before the elevator doors open?

It's time to upgrade your pitch with an "elevator picture" so you can respond with "It'll be faster for me to show you."

What is an elevator picture?

It's the graphics and visuals that enhance your word.

Use diagrams, charts, video, illustrations and photos to help Susan draw relationships between data and concepts. For instance, if you sell a new type of residential window with superior insulating technology you can say, "I sell an innovative window with high-performance insulating seals that can lower energy bills by 50%." Or you can show it.

Your words alone - just like the other billion pitches blasted at your customers like marketing nutrinos - pass through with no impact. They open the flood gates to a ten minute Q&A session your prospect doesn't have time for.

But if you could show an explicit, cross-sectioned visual of the new window technology with materials referenced, statistics stated, and the manufacturer logo brightly emblazoned, you answer dozens of questions in seconds.

An elevator picture is worth a thousand words of an elevator pitch. Words are forgotten. Images are indelible. By adding imagery to your pitch, Susan won't forget your message.

Here are 10 tips to show and tell by adding an elevator picture to your pitch:

1. Get an iPad. Don't be afraid. It's not the devil's window. It's a powerful, portable display that enables you to always have your visuals handy. Flick to move between slides. Tap to play video. Pinch to zoom into details. Can't afford one? Use a $30 digital photo frame. You can load all your visuals and click between them or set them up on their stand at your trade show booth.

2. No small text. If you're creating an illustration, use large text about the height of a Skittle (30 points).

3. Remove unnecessary detail. The best visuals are those with simple images and very little text. Strip out all but the essential information.

4. Use comparisons. Use a picture comparison between the competitor's product and yours. If you sell grass seed, show your turf compared to the patchy result of your competitor.

5. Use statistics. If your product yields a 50% savings, state that in huge text right next to your graphics.

6. Use testimonials. Add a short, one sentence customer comment to your graphics for greater impact.

7. Don't be cheap. Salespeople are notorious for wanting to cut corners and go the cheap route. Don't scrimp. Your elevator picture will only impress if it's professional.

8. Hire the best local designer. Don't use your nephew in high-school. Find the best professional in your area and pay their ridiculous fee to get the best illustrations or graphics you can afford.

9. Use a crowd sourcing service. Don't know any local designers? Use a web service like Provide a thumbnail sketch and detailed description of the graphics you need. You'll get dozens or hundreds of submissions. Pick your favorite. Pay. Done.

10. Buy stock photography. Use or to get affordable, high quality photos and graphics - $3 to $5.