Summary: If you’re having trouble writing an elevator pitch, try using bullets. And challenge yourself to keep the pitch under 100 words.

I received a cold call elevator pitch yesterday that was very effective. It was short (88 words not including the signature), the company had good traction, and the author used bullets to make his case (4 out of 5 bullets were about traction). Here it is (with the author’s permission):

Subject: Cold emai [sic]

Hi
A quick “cold email” to see if you would be interested in helping X raise money.

Our Story

  • We are the the X of Y
  • Over X Million registered users
  • Growing at X new users per day
  • Projecting growth at X new users per day in next X days
  • Zero cost per customer acquisition

If you are interested please contact me :)

Thanks

The prose, spelling, and formatting could use a little work, but the pitch was brief and effective. I’m going to follow up with him.

Later that day, I was helping a client refine his elevator pitch. We were stuck on the prose so we decided to try bullets and it worked well. Here’s an example:

Subject: Introducing Ning to Blue Shirt Capital

Hi Nivi,

Thanks for offering to introduce us to Blue Shirt Capital. I’ve attached a short presentation about Ning. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Ning lets you create your own social network for anything. For free. In 2 minutes. It’s as easy as starting a blog. Try it at http://ning.com
  • We have over 115,000 user-created networks and our page views are growing 10% per week.
  • We previously raised $44M from Legg Mason and others, including myself.
  • Before Ning, I started Netscape (acquired by AOL for $4.2B) and Opsware (acquired by HP for $1.6B).

We’re building Ning to unlock the great ideas from people all over the world who want to use this amazing medium in their lives.

I’ve admired Blue Shirt’s investments from afar. We’re starting meetings with investors next week and I would love to show Blue Shirt what we’re building at Ning.

Best,

Marc Andreessen
xyz@ning.com
415.555.1212

Not bad. But at 158 words (not including the signature) it’s almost twice the size of the cold call I received today. Compare this Ning pitch to Ning’s pitch without bullets. Which one do you like better?

Topics Case Studies · Pitching

4 comments · Show

  • Philip Mikal

    Out of network email pitches will likely get the least attention…. where I’d think bullets would have the best chance of catching the recipient’s interest.

    Better yet, if anyone is sending many of these types of emails, perhaps it’d be appropriate for an a/b test. Would love to see the results!

  • Ken Pirok

    You need to make sure your elevator pitch includes your competitive advantage. Simply, what do you do differently or better than everyone else?

    It would be a mistake to list evidence of “traction” without mentioning what’s special about what you’re doing. You’re telling them why you have traction and why you have a good opportunity in the first place.

    Your competitive advantage should be so clear in the pitch that the listener can repeat the gist of it back to you in their own words after listening or reading.

  • Mark Olson

    Am I the only one who finds it amazing that Marc Andreessen would need a “pitch” to get a meeting with an investor?

  • Shahjahan Chaudhary

    I thought of testing myself on the bullet-point pitch:

    . Small businesses want to reach local customers desperately. For free. We have the answer.

    . We have tested our product in a single city. It works. We have over 80,000 pageviews per day from one city. Over 500 stores have listed over 10,000 products.

    . Our competitors are Yelp (our services are incomparable) and Facebook (not suitable for small businesses lacking brand recognition).

    . The model is easily replicable, and there are over 3000 cities waiting to experience us.

    . Independent local stores around the world need myoffstreet. Urgently. Your money can help us reach them faster.

    Sha