Dan Pink’s latest book – to Sell is Human – has a chapter on the elevator pitch, and particularly on 6 new and emerging forms of it.

Which would actually work for retail investing clients (whether coming from fund companies or IAs)?

  • Number 1: the Pixar pitch – also known as the story spine – would work well for communicating the why of an investment strategy, especially with clients who struggle sticking with strategies. Changing logical assertions to an organized narrative should make less-technical people more loyal to the idea.
  • Number 2: the Subject line. It’s no secret I’m a big fan of email marketing/newsletters for investors. Investors – for better or worse – are always hoping to learn about a ‘secret sauce’. If you can use that to get them to open and read an email, without leaving them disappointed that the secret won’t make them rich quick, I believe you’ll be left with a net ‘win.’
  • Number 6: One word equity. It’s not for every one, that’s for sure. But if you’re willing to take a chance on a niche, wouldn’t it be great if your clients could see you as the champion of a one-word value or truism?

As for the others, I’d steer clear of #3 – rhymes. Questions – #4 – are tricky; if you can ask them like in the Reagan example, great. But retail investors are anxious about their savings and generally feel overwhelmed/un-empowered when it comes to understanding how to best invest. Questions are very likely to exacerbate that feeling, that anxiety, which can lead to defensiveness and other reactions that will be tough to turn to your advantage. Tweeting – new pitch #5 – is a growing opportunity, one worth practicing and getting comfortable with; but unless your servicing particularly tweety demographics, take care to give it the effort it’s due, not more.

Ultimately, I think the best thought on the modern elevator pitch comes from Seth Godin: No one ever bought anything in an elevator; so sell your next meeting, not the product/service.

Watch the video on Dan Pink’s six new elevator pitches: http://youtu.be/XvxtC60V6kc

Julian Scarfe

Strategic marketing consultant & digital media expert, helping clients in the investment industry - mutual fund, hedge fund & ETF firms, advisor organizations, IR and other financial services. Strategy, branding, web, social, outreach, inbound, video, sales support materials, marketing cost auditing.