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Elevator Story

Positioning a product requires a pyramid of messages from lengthy proof statements at the base to a product name or logo at the tip. The messages at the top of the pyramid are used to communicate the product essentials when the message receiver has almost no time, e.g. the name of your product on the package when the product sits on a crowded shelf. The messages at the bottom are used when the receiver has more time, for example a venture capitalist reading a business plan.

Just below the top is the elevator story. This is the 2-sentence, 15-second story about your product that you would use if you happened by chance to be in the elevator with a VP or VC who was in a position to fund the next stage of your project and you only had a very short time to get your message out.

For this deliverable, you will create a 2-sentence elevator pitch for your product using the method described in "Crossing the Chasm" by Geoffrey A. Moore. Moore's method is very structured, but surprisingly effective. Please follow exactly for this deliverable.

The essence of the story is to answer five questions: (1) who is the product aimed at? (customer segment), (2) what problem does it solve? (problem), (3) what category of product is it? (category), (4) what/who is the competition? (competition), and (5) what is the key differentiator? (differentiation).

The pitch is set up in this order using the trigger words on the left:

For: Target customers
Who: Need or opportunity or problem
The: Product/Service name
Is A: Product category
That: Key benefits/reason to buy
Unlike: Primary competitive alternative
We: Primary differentiation

Here is an example if we were pitching the new products course to prospective students.

For: engineering and business students
Who: want to become product development leaders
The: New Product Design and Business Development Program
Is A: nine month course
That: takes teams of engineering and business students through a real-life, comprehensive product development process working with a client company to create a working prototype and a comprehensive business plan
Unlike: design courses in the engineering school and marketing courses in the business school
We: offer the opportunity to work on both engineering and business tasks with teams that combine engineering and business students, and the chance to work on a real product that is important to the client company.
Here's what this elevatory story looks like in deliverable form

For engineering and business students who want to become product development leaders, the New Product Design and Business Development Program is a nine month course that takes teams of engineering and business students through a real-life, comprehensive product development process working with a client company to create a working prototype and a comprehensive business plan. Unlike design courses in the engineering school and marketing courses in the business school, we offer the opportunity to work on both engineering and business tasks with teams that combine engineering and business students, and the chance to work on a real product that is important to the client company.

And, here is an example for a consumer product

For professionals who need access to their information while on the go, Palm Computing is a technology company that provides hand held devices for mobile information access. Unlike laptop computers, our products are low-cost, compact and easy to use.

Notes:

  1. The elevator story is two sentences, no more and no less. The start of the second sentence is "Unlike".
  2. The target customers must be specific. For a medical product, there might be separate elevator stories that start, "For hospital purchasing agents...", "For interventional cardiologists...", "For cardiac patients...".
  3. The key benefits and primary differentiators should reflect the key value proposition for the target customer. Put yourself in the customer's head and list what will influence their adopt or purchase decision.
  4. For the last phrase, rather than "we", use "our product" or the product name.
Suggestion: Have the company review your elevator story before delivering to class. And, have every person on the team memorize the elevator story.

Deliverable: Use the elevator pitch to open your technology demo presentation that is due on the same date.