If you’re an innovator, you’ve probably been told over and over to perfect your elevator pitch—a quick summary extolling the virtues of your product that could pique a stranger’s interest between floors on an elevator.
But today, many influencers view this approach to promoting your product or company as a bit stale—too long, too one-sided, too boastful. Like being in a crowded elevator, it can make a person feel trapped. What’s more, it can—like some elevator rides—feel like a jerky way to get from one place to another.
How to Wow
A Wow Statement, on the other hand, doesn’t come across as an information dump. It invites a dialogue, which is always more engaging than a monologue. Offering an appetizer rather than a full meal, Wow Statements make your listener want to know more about your product or company.
In Bill Reichert’s foundational article “Getting to Wow!,” the venture capitalist advises entrepreneurs to replace their elevator pitches with Wow Statements that get right to the heart of what makes their business unique. He asks,
What are the three or four sentences that can be spoken by a normal human, and can be understood by a normal human, that really capture the essence of what makes your company so interesting?
A Wow Statement needs to be clear, declarative, and jargon free—it needs to convey your point to any audience with no external information required. Sales consultant Dew Tinnin offers an example she uses when speaking with new contacts: “I help salespeople make more money.”
Your Big Idea
Let the conversation develop organically. If you’ve crafted an effective Wow Statement, the person you’re speaking with will want to know more about how you achieve the thing you’ve just described. Here you can provide more detail on what Reichert calls “your central big idea.”
Your big idea can be expressed in sentences like “Because x happens, we provide y” or “Our main goal is providing x to y.” Again, strive to be as direct as possible as you describe the benefit your customers will receive from your product.
Most important, your Wow Statement should differentiate your product from others in the market. After all, there will likely be several other companies providing something similar. What makes you stand out?
Here comes the tricky part: when showing why you’re different, don’t make claims you can’t support. In today’s marketing landscape, authenticity matters—stating that you’re the only one, or the best one, will likely alienate your listener. But if you’ve received a special accolade or reached an impressive benchmark, don’t be shy about mentioning it.
Test It Out
To figure out your Wow Statement, engage in some reverse engineering. Think about a product or service you love, and deconstruct what made you want to buy it. Take, for example, the air fryer, the popular new kitchen appliance.
Now, pretend you created a particular model of air fryer, and come up with a Wow Statement for it. Imagine the following dialogue:
Q: So what does your product do?
A: It’s a food fryer that’s actually good for your health.
Q: How can a food fryer be healthy?
A: Rather than using oil to deep fry food, the air fryer creates the same effect by circulating hot air. You get the heat and texture you love without the high fat content.
Q: Why should I buy your particular air fryer?
A: Consumer Reports ranked it number one for even heat distribution. It also runs very quietly and includes a toaster oven, so it saves counter space.
And there you have it! You’ve described your product in a handful of sentences, adhering to what Reichert calls the Key Principles: Be clear, be credible, and be compelling. You’ve explained the general concept, shown how it works, and demonstrated how yours is different without resorting to hyperbole.
Some products and services are easier to explain than others. If you’re feeling stuck, try a neat trick suggested by Steven Imke: do an image search. Type a word or two related to your business into Google Images or a stock photo site and see what comes up. Imke notes that it’s a good idea to start your search a few pages into the results, as the pictures on the first page may be a little too on the nose.
Remember that the point of the Wow Statement is to create curiosity, so an image that is tangentially related to your product may actually be more helpful than a literal image. Let’s apply this to the air fryer example.
On the third page of results for a search for “air fryer” on a stock photo site, an image of a hot air balloon comes up. The hot air balloon showed up in the search for the air fryer because it also uses hot air to function. And it’s a good image choice for a Wow Statement, because a hot air balloon generally carries positive connotations of freedom, adventure, and leisure. A Wow Statement inspired by a hot air balloon might be
This air fryer takes cooking to new heights.
We give you the taste you love without weighing you down.
Even if the image doesn’t end up becoming part of your final Wow Statement, an image search can help you brainstorm if you’re feeling blocked.
Struggling to figure out your Wow Statement? Reach out—we’re here to help!