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Freelancers and consultants: Rethinking the elevator speech

Today I attended a coaching session led by marketing coach extraordinaire Judy Murdoch. In coaching on how to develop your elevator speech, she offered two terrific, rarely-if-ever heard suggestions:

  1. Your self-perceived flaws may very well be your professional strengths that can be highlighted in your elevator speech.

  2. Your elevator speech should connect with your best prospects. Conversely, it is perfectly fine if it does not appeal to those who are not your best prospects.

The first observation is quite intriguing. Most freelancers and consultants, when coming forth with a personality trait they would like to change, seldom come up with a truly appalling character flaw, such as lying or stealing.

Instead, they nominate something that has challenged them during their lives but probably can be flipped over to serve as a trait that can serve their work well. Take a tendency to blurt out what they are thinking without adequately considering the feelings of the other person. Not good in one sense but it may also enable them to get to the truth and coach others effectively and efficiently. Similarly, scattered thoughts may result from incredible bubbling creativity.

In my own case, introspection may make me seem quiet and isolated, but it also helps me work on writing projects for extended, solitary periods.

Or as some coaches say, your mess is your message.

The second observation really gave me pause. I’ve been conditioned to expect elevator speeches to WOW! listeners. They should be so mouth watering and juicy that anyone hearing them should clamor for more information and come forth as interested clients.

Yes, under ideal circumstances elevator speeches should generate fascination and desire. However, certain people, even though they may be in the expected target market, may not be turned on. They may be bored or even hostile. And this may happen with a very good elevator speech.

The reason is that personality traits as well as more straight-forward traits (education, experience) are involved in our decision to work with someone . . . and that is just how it should be.

The very same traits that attract some clients repel (or at least do not attract) others.

I’ll use myself here as an example

I am a freelance writer specializing in the insurance industry. I introduce myself to possible clients as “a freelance writer specializing in the insurance industry.” Depending on the audience, I may add that I have CLU and CPCU insurance credentials or that I specialize in certain product lines, such as property / casualty.

Not sexy enough in some people’s opinion, but it works for me. The people who most appreciate my work style value that I am more of an implementer than a strategist spouting marketing jargon and that I love to take a specific assignment, get to work and provide polished copy by deadline.

The people looking for more excitement may not relish my approach and probably are not a good match with me.

My other work is as a writer and coach under the brand Stand Up 8 Times. I help freelancers and consultants market their B2B services. My elevator speech in this realm is frequently along the lines of, “I help freelancers and consultants who want to land well-paid work in 30 days or less.”

Coincidentally, that elevator speech is pretty much the subtitle to my new book: Real Skills, Real Income: A Proven Marketing System to Land Well-Paid Freelance and Consulting Work in 30 Days or Less.

A little more excitement there and that’s where the elevator speech stands at the moment.

Originally posted 3-17-14

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