A Simple Framework for Explaining What You Do

There is no more incredible feeling than when you’re able to share your passion and knowledge with someone. It’s a fantastic opportunity, but it can be hard to articulate what you do clearly and concisely.

Does this ever happen to you? You’re talking to someone about the kind of work you do, and you notice that their eyes have started to wander. You can sense that you’re not connecting and making an impact.

This is a common pitfall that affects many top performers in every field.

The problem is, you know too much. With all of the education, experience, jargon, and insider knowledge you’ve picked up over the years, you’re used to processing information at the highest levels in your industry.

Trying to explain it to someone on the ground level is no easy task. You’re now at risk of losing any non-expert in the field. This leads to failed connections and missed opportunities.

Don’t let your expertise work against you.

One of the best ways to get over this hurdle is to craft an “escalator pitch.” Shorter than an elevator pitch, it’s what you say when you pass someone going up an escalator while they’re on their way down. It’s a simple, concise statement that sums up what you do. An escalator pitch is easy for anyone, regardless of their familiarity with your field of work, to understand and remember.

When and where to use your pitch.

An effective pitch is a secret weapon that can land you new leads wherever you go. If you get this right, you’ll have several places to leverage its power. Like,

The principle that will make or break the success of your one-liner

Before we go through the five simple steps to crafting an excellent one-liner, let’s talk about one basic principle: clarity.

Above all else, your escalator pitch has to be clear. It’s well and good to be creative and clever, but those aren’t requirements — they may even be hindrances. Clarity must be your guiding principle.

With the proper framework, the good news is that talking about what you do clearly and powerfully is easy.

Just follow these simple steps to create the perfect pitch. Each step is essential for when it’s time to put it all together:

1. Start With Who

In my book, Now Start With Who, I argue that the first step before launching any idea, business, new product, or even when you’re building a pitch is to think about Who it’s for. Without a clear who, you are at risk of connecting with the people you need to reach.

Clarity on the “Who” you help is the essential first step in crafting your pitch.

You can’t help everyone.

But you can help someone.

When you tell us who you help, we can either identify with that group or think of someone we know you can help.

Can you articulate who you help? Any business that knows its niche will benefit in multiple ways:

Your Who could be someone in a multitude of demographics. Here are a few Whos that I have helped my clients identify to specify in their pitch.

These are just a few. The clearer you can be, the more effective your pitch will become.

Take some time to reflect on who your ideal customer is.

Here are some questions to guide your thinking:

If you’re thinking of a client you love working with, gets fantastic results, and pays you the best — that’s the kind of person you want more of.

Before moving on, finish this sentence, “I like to help _________________ type of customers the most.”

2. State The Main Problem You Solve

Think about the problems that your ideal client is facing today. As it relates to your field of interest, what do you think is bugging them the most? As you consider this, remember that problems don’t just occur on the external, physical level. Their issues are emotional, too. Here I’m thinking about the anger, frustration, anxiety, or stress caused by their experience. It’s when problems become too overwhelming on an emotional level that they will seek help.

For example, suppose you’re a chiropractor. In that case, one of your patients could be struggling with knee pain that prevents him from doing daily activities such as going for a walk, shopping for groceries, etc. The external problem is the pain in his knee. That’s just part of his struggle, however. The impact it’s having on him is just as troubling. He’s not the same person with the injury because he is full of anxiety. He cannot do everyday activities anymore. This causes him to feel alone. He wonders if he will always be lonely like this, anxious that he’ll ever get better. That’s the emotional problem playing itself out.

To create an effective escalator pitch, we need to articulate the two parts of the main problem. In the example, it was the knee pain and the anxiety of not getting better.

Ask yourself: What external problem do you solve for your Who? What emotion is triggered because of this?

Now state this as a sentence: “My Who feels _________________ (emotion) because they’re struggling with _______________ (external problem).

3. Summarize Your Solution

Now we get to the part where you can come and help them out of their problem and into a better life.

Think of yourself as building a bridge from your client’s current state (with the problem) to their ideal state (without the problem). You know that they are in pain, frustrated, anxious, or stressed. How are you going to guide them out of their current pain and toward the life they want?

Resist the urge to list your qualifications or use medical jargon. Put your solution in words that are relevant and meaningful to your customer. It could be something like a product, widget, service, course, etc. And remember our guiding principle: make it clear.

Answer the following: What do you do to help your customers?

You can also add a few words to describe your process. For example:

Whatever you put here, don’t obsess about it. The truth is, your Who won’t care about what you do nearly as much as what it will do for them. That brings us to the most crucial section: the transformation you offer.

4. Be Clear On The Outcome

The reason why Your patients don’t come to you for services; they come to you for results.

You could be the most credentialed doctor in town, with an impressive network, a charming staff, and an array of top-of-the-line medical equipment. But that’s not why customers come to you.

They come to you because they want all the pain, stress, and struggles in their life to be gone. They want to win, and this is your opportunity to show them how you can help them get there.

That means you need to become an expert at explaining what a successful outcome looks like for your customer. Use your words to paint a picture of how their lives will be once their problems are solved.

Because of what you do, your customer may:

Ask yourself: What outcomes do you deliver, and what happens to your customers’ lives as a result?

5. Put It All Together

Now you have all the elements you need to craft a memorable one-liner that will land with impact. All that’s left is to put the pieces together.

Here’s an outline you can use to get started. Fill in the blanks, once again, keeping in mind that clarity is vital.

Too many _________________ (write your answer to #1. This is where you mention your ideal client) are __________________ (emotional problem from #2) because of _________________ (physical problem from #2).

The good news is that we have a __________________ (#3 state your solution) so that they _____________________ (#4, this is the outcome).

Here are some examples to inspire you:

How a marketing company pitches:

Most companies are losing money because they can’t communicate what they do. Using the power of story, we help businesses capture the attention of their target market. It’s the best marketing approach today if you want to grow a business.

How a financial advisor can pitch:

Most people can’t get their heads around their financial future…so we created an economic map that puts your data on a weekly dashboard, giving you peace of mind about your finances.

How a website designer can pitch:

Most business owners are embarrassed about their website. We have a platform and a framework that gives you an amazing website to grow your business online.

How a local, ethically-traded clothing company can pitch:

Most people do not know where the clothes they were came from. So we source our clothing from trusted local vendors to ensure your clothes look and feel amazing.

Finally, here’s how a chiropractor can pitch their practice:

Too many senior citizens are on the brink of hopelessness because it seems like surgery is the only solution to their pain. At Belleville Chiropractic, we offer chiropractic services based on the best scientific evidence that keeps you out of the hospital so that you can live your life without pain.


That’s how you do it:

Now that you know how to craft a memorable escalator pitch to get out there and start using it to promote yourself, get more referrals, and capture the attention of your ideal clients.

About the Author:

Jon Morrison understands how tough it is to do outstanding marketing and still run a growing business.

Jon is the Lead Consultant at Get Clear Consulting. Located on the West Coast of Canada, Get Clear empowers business leaders from all over the world by giving them the tools they need to make their marketing simple and effective.
Unlike other agencies that keep you focused on your company, Get Clear helps you develop the mindset and message to transform prospective customers into raving fans of your brand.

As a business leader, husband, and father, Jon knows that true joy and satisfaction only comes when you give up the rights to yourself and pour yourself out in the service to others.

He recently published a book on this topic called “Now Start With Who” (nowstartwithwho.com).

Jon holds an MA from Biola University and is currently working on an MBA. He is an alumnus of Oxford University, a TEDx speaker, and is married to Hayley. They live in Abbotsford, B.C. with their three girls. For more information about Jon and his team at Get Clear when you visit www.getclear.ca.

Jon Morrison is the Lead Consultant at Get Clear and author of the book "Now Start With Who".