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Kiwi's Coaching Corner

By Paul Kiewiet

About Paul

Useful tips to help you get from where you are to where you want to go. Paul Kiewiet, MAS is an industry veteran providing business and life coaching, industry consulting and facilitation, and professional development services through BrandKiwi LLC.

Compliance Chat

Jeff Jacobs
Promotional Products: If It Ain’t Broke, Leave It Be
Apr 18, 2014

I wrote recently in this space about swag that went wrong for Goldman Sachs at a conference for women in...

Jeff's Rant

Jeff Solomon, MAS
A "Condemned" Supplier Shares the Truth!
Apr 17, 2014

There clearly are companies who operate in ways that are contrary to the traditional supplier/distributor model we are comfortable with....

Selling Smarter

Rosalie Marcus
Speak Now and Sell More!
Apr 15, 2014

How would you like a powerful marketing strategy that can position you as a leader in your field, put you...

Promotional Fashionista

Colleen McKenna
3 Ways to Style an Imprinted Tee
Apr 15, 2014

Imprinted T-shirts are in with the fashion elite. Here's how they are styling the tees....

Beyond Words

Rebecca Kollmann, MAS+
Adapting Your Style
Apr 14, 2014

Many of us have taken a behavioral style inventory at some point in our careers. While the intent of these...

Guest Blogs

Guest Contributor
The Anatomy of Emotional Marketing
Apr 11, 2014

You've probably heard the old adage: "It's the thought that counts." This could not be any truer, especially in business. When...

The Hot Button

Mary Ellen Sokalski, MAS
Even Retirees Are Doing It
Apr 9, 2014

Even older clients who grew up with the "one-size-fits-all" adult T-shirt as their world are choosing to buy FASHION TEES....

Not So Technically Speaking

Dale Denham
Go Mobile or Go Home
Apr 8, 2014

I am, without a doubt, the most mobile CIO in the USA. Name one other CIO that is so committed...

Million Dollar Mindset with Greg Muzzillo

Greg Muzzillo
"Free Crab Tomorrow"
Apr 7, 2014

Joe's Crab Shack offers free crab tomorrow. That's because it's never tomorrow. All we have is today. I've talked to...

Quick Thoughts by Cliff Quicksell, MAS

Cliff Quicksell, MAS
6 Reasons Why Marketing Fails and How to Prevent It
Mar 31, 2014

When it comes to marketing, there are no guarantees. A great marketing idea that is poorly implemented or incorrectly presented...

Be Dazzled

Elise Hacking Carr
Go Green or Go Home
Mar 26, 2014

Earth Day is right around the corner. Need ideas for upcoming promotions? Here are three products that scream "I <3...

Be Bold, Be Different, Be Memorable

Rick Greene, MAS
5 Ways to Use LinkedIn to Land New Business
Feb 26, 2014

LinkedIn is a happening place. It is the unsung hero of social platforms and it can indeed be used to...

Mike's Blog

Michael Cornnell
Ads on NBA Jerseys: An Inevitability?
Feb 24, 2014

The NBA may be stating that they're no closer to on-uniform ads than they were in 2011, but that doesn't...


Kyle Richardson
New Year, New Site, New Magazine
Jan 31, 2014

This week, we announced the redesign of our home page and magazine. Let us know what you think about the...

Big Picture Promo

Matt Kaspari, CAS
Meeting Clients Where They Are
Oct 24, 2013

Promotional marketing is at its best when it empowers a client’s brand, meets his or her objectives and fits within...

My Two Cents

Rick Brenner
For Promotional Product Sales, Protect Your Client's Brand
Jun 3, 2013

Whether you are selling to a global brand like Nike or to your local YMCA, no single asset is more...

Friday Sales-thought of the Week!

Dale Limes, MAS
Reverse Engineer Your Sales Success
Mar 18, 2013

Steven Covey reminds us that when setting goals ... "Start with the end in mind." That is to visualize the...

Editor's Notes

Nichole Stella
The Perfect Match
Mar 5, 2013

The Super Bowl has also become the Ad Bowl, where brands duke it out to see who has the funniest,...

The Sales Challenge

Bill Farquharson
Think and Succeed
May 29, 2012

What would happen if you woke up in the morning and your first thought was, "I am never going to...

Creating More Purposeful Sales Conversations

Lisa Leitch, CSP, MAS
Under 100 Days to Achieve 2011 Goals
Oct 20, 2011

It's hard to believe, but there are fewer than 100 days left to achieve 2011 goals! Are you on track...

You DON'T Need An Elevator Speech


There is an old Egyptian proverb: "Your answers tell me how clever you are. Your questions tell me how wise you are."

Recently an old industry friend emailed me and said she was getting back into the business and was wondering if I would share with her my "elevator" speech. As most of you know, an elevator speech is that memorized little thirty-second or fifty word piece of bait that weʼre supposed to dangle in front of someone when they ask that inevitable question, "So, what is it that you do?" It derives its name from the amount of time you have in an elevator for a conversation. The idea is that you toss them that bait so you can hook ʻem, reel ʻem in and net ʻem before the elevator doors open. Maybe at least be able to exchange business cards and have a warm call to follow.

She was surprised when I told her that I donʼt have one and donʼt really believe in them. Iʼve been to seminars and workshops on how to craft a winning elevator speech and there have been books written on the subject. What I usually hear (and see) is a smug little recitation that sounds like a mission statement and a look on a face that is begging for me to tell them how clever they are. Those who have "crafted" their elevator speech often wait in eager anticipation for the fateful question, "So, what is it that you do?" Then they leave the elevator in disappointment that the fish didnʼt hit the bait. What happened?

The ubiquitous question, "So, what is it that you do?" is the precursor to the equally empty, "How are you?" After youʼve met someone, the "what" changes to the "how" and both questions are usually asked with equal curiosity and sincerity. Perhaps I could create a series of books, speeches and seminars on crafting your answer to "How are you?" (Iʼm just kidding.)

Obviously though, some of us are bamboozled when not prepared for the ever- popular, "So, what is it that you do?" question. We leave the elevator kicking and berating ourselves for what we said or left unsaid. Instead of crafting a lame, one-size-fits-all, buzzword-laden response, prepare yourself by knowing yourself.

1) What problems do you solve? What excites you about your chosen profession? How can you simplify the askerʼs life?

2) How are you different from anything or anyone else in the marketplace? Come on now! You donʼt have better customer service. You donʼt care more. You arenʼt more honest or have more integrity. You canʼt source better than anyone else. If there were a trade show where you were exhibiting along with every single one of your competitors, how would you stand out?

3) Why is your difference important to your customers? How are you more relevant to the needs of your customers? What are you doing that makes you a part of their team? How do you allow your customers to be a part of your company?

You need to be addressing those three questions with yourself every day. You need to be asking your customers the right questions to find out their pain points. This is the hard work. This is the hard work that pays. This work gives you honest, authentic, customer-focused answers to the question youʼve been waiting for, "So, what is it that you do?"


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