Sell your product or service in a sentence

Tips from Tory Johnson

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

IN THIS ARTICLE

Defining your business idea in under a minute is no mean feat. But it is possible. Serial entrepreneur, Tory Johnson explains how she’s able to condense the most important information about a business, product or service by keeping the following three things in mind.

  • Keep it simple
  • Describe the benefit early on
  • Make it interesting

I hear from people every day who want to pitch their products to me for my shopping segment, "Deals & Steals" on Good Morning America - a US TV show. They're enthusiastic about their invention and absolutely convinced that it would be a hit with our viewers. All they need, they say, is 30 minutes of my time.

30 minutes? Really?  They claim they need ample time to explain the concept and demo it properly. Not a chance, I tell them politely but firmly.

Don’t get me wrong:  I’m not trying to be rude or act like I'm oh-so-busy. But every Thursday on the show, I have just three to four minutes—tops—to sell six distinct products from six different vendors.  I can devote up to 30 seconds to each brand, which means I need to use every second to effectively explain the product and convince millions of viewers why they need it.

Which is why to succeed at my job, over the years I've mastered the art of selling in a sentence. If you're pitching anything, you should know how to do it, too.

Here's how:

  • Simple and snappy can be memorable: You’d think shoppers would take the time to judge a product on its merits, but the truth is that few of us have the time to do the required research. Instead, we make snap decisions every day and getting us to do that requires simple, descriptive messages that describe exactly what your product does. To be clear, when I say to make it simple and snappy, I don’t mean stupid or gimmicky, and whatever message you go with should stay on point.  For example, I love featuring Mission Athletecare, which makes products used by sports superstars Serena Williams, Dwayne Wade and Drew Brees, among others who rely on the brand for cooling off after hardcore game play.  When thinking about how to quickly describe its signature towels, I told viewers this: “The proprietary technology in Mission Cooling Towels will cool the average body temperature by about 20 degrees. Just wet, wring and snap.” Less than two dozen words and you immediately get the idea.
  • Differentiate your product with a relevant benefit:  You can’t meet everyone in person, so if you’re giving your ‘elevator pitch’ by phone or video, be prepared to convey the key elements you’d include in a face-to-face session. For example, I’ve featured YUMMIE by Heather Thompson, a popular shapewear company, several times on the show. I know viewers can't touch the product, so I must use words to describe what they’d feel if they touched the tops and bottoms. "It's soft, breathable cotton shapewear that slims and smoothes without suffocating."  You get a sense of the fabric and its benefits without touching it yourself.  Those details are all I need to engage shoppers and get them interested.
  • Pique interest, so they want to learn more:  Well-known skincare brands carried by the likes of beauty and department stores are popular on TV, so I usually feature 12 to 20 products from a single brand, which means there's no time to give the details and benefits of each Stoc Keeping Unit (SKU).  Instead, I must rely on an umbrella sentence that grabs viewers' attention and encourages them to want to learn more.  For example, "This assortment from Perricone (an American brand) uses its patented formulas to target a variety of skincare concerns -- from acne to anti-aging -- with a specific solution for each.”  While I don’t have the luxury of offering a run down of each individual product, I can give viewers the gist of why this brand may appeal to them. By mentioning that each product offers specific solutions, this simple nugget encourages viewers to learn more online.

The bottom line: an elevator pitch doesn't have to seal the deal on a purchase, but like the lead sentence in any story, it should grab enough attention so that your intended audience wants to learn more.   A confused prospect will always walk away or tune out, which means complicated pitches are a turn off.  Practice your one-liner until you’re confident that your single sentence sells your product, service or brand so the intended audience is hungry to hear more.


About the Author

Tory Johnson leads a popular "Deals & Steals" weekly series on a morning show called “Good Morning America.” For more than 10 years she has worked closely with current and aspiring small business owners to help make their dreams a reality. Connect with Tory directly on Twitter and Instagram or ToryJohnson.com.

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