In describing yourself, less is more

It’s an old cliché but, often, less really is more. When we describe our businesses in sixty seconds, the most common mistake we make is cramming in too much information. I do it myself and then curse inwardly.

We’re worried about  failing to mention ‘key’ information. Yet we live in an information age, where we are bombarded with stuff we have to remember. And that means we have to be much more selective about the information we take on board and retain. The more you give me to remember, the more I have to forget.

In his book ‘To Sell is Human‘, Daniel Pink discusses the six alternatives to the outdated ‘elevator pitch’. One is the one-word pitch.

Networking group

Keep your introduction concise and attract more attention [Image courtesy ideabox.thevaluepagesgroup.com]

The idea is based on a ‘one-word-equity’ concept developed by advertising legend Maurice Saatchi. According to Pink, Saatchi “argues that a world populated with digital natives has intensified the battle for attention in ways no one has fully comprehended. Attention spans aren’t merely shrinking, they’re disappearing. And the only way to be heard is to push brevity to its breaking point.”

Pink then quotes Saatchi, “In this model, companies compete for global ownership of one word in the public mind. When anybody thinks of you, they utter that word. When anybody utters that word, they think of you.”

In his book, Pink illustrates the point by asking which technology company you think of when you hear the word ‘search’ or which credit card company springs to mind when you hear the word ‘priceless’.

Taking our sixty seconds down to one word is a big ask for anyone with a modest enterprise. But how about a phrase? Or one memorable sentence? In a networking group I am a member of, a woman who has founded a SOHO non-profit, business accommodation booking agency, sends all her cash surplus to a charity that cares for homeless Ethiopian children. All she says is: “Book your requirements through me and save the world.”

The aim of a short introduction is not to sell your services. It is to pique interest, to stimulate further follow-up and set up a one-to-one meeting when you can describe your enterprise in more depth. Keep it short, really short, and you will not be short of people wanting to know more.

The idea of the one-word-pitch I owe to Andy Lopata, whose website, Connecting is not enough, is one of the best networking resources I know.