community engagement

The Seinfeld Elevator Pitch Method For Nonprofits

 

Screen shot 2015-02-09 at 2.25.39 PMHave you ever wanted the ability to get someone to emotionally connect with your nonprofit in just seconds?  A few years ago we stumbled across a method to do so, and it’s been a huge help to our nonprofit leaders ever since.  

And it all started with a show about nothing.

The genius of Seinfeld was how quickly he brought you into his world.  During the early seasons, he’d lead into the show with clips of his stand-up starting with, “Have you ever noticed the guy who…” and then he’d mention some funny characteristic.  Watching at home, you’d immediately think of a friend with that same characteristic. 

Invariably, the trait Seinfeld mentioned would lead you into the quirky, crazy over-the-top world in which only Jerry, Kramer, Elaine and George lived.  With one sentence, he connected with you emotionally, kept you hooked, and brought you into his world.

Develop your own “Seinfeld Elevator Pitch”

Read these two sentences and see which one connects with you more:

  1. “I’m with a nonprofit and we help people who’ve been addicted to drugs, come out of prison, or who’ve been in an abusive relationship.”
  2. “Have you ever known someone with a tough background who had trouble getting back on their feet?”

When you read the first one, what popped into your mind?  Was it someone you didn’t know going to help someone else you didn’t know?  Or possibly that it seemed like a well-intentioned list?

But when you read the second sentence, maybe the first thing that popped into your mind was an actual person, a friend or a loved one.  Someone who’d had a tough life and just couldn’t seem to break the cycle.  Once that person is in your mind, everything else you hear will have an emotional anchor.

STEP 1: Write your “Seinfeld” question.

Choose a question that helps your listener put an actual person in mind, and will lead to what you actually do.  

When our leaders started doing this, they saw big results. The elevator pitch stopped being about them and their nonprofit, and it started being about the person hearing the pitch.  It also helped them crystalize what the pitch should be about — connecting people, not about listing facts.

Emotional connection trumps listing facts every time for memory recall.

Why The Pitch Order Matters – The Old-Timey Newspaper Method

Remember newspapers?  Unlike their online progeny, space for an article wasn’t unlimited.  The most important information was first, then the second most important, and so on.  That allowed editors to cut out the end of your article if a more important story came along, but the readers still had the most important information.

The same goes for your elevator pitch.  After your engaging question, put the most important thing someone should know first, then the second, and so on.  Time becomes less of a factor.  If you’re only going from the third to the first floor at least you’re able to get in the three most important sentences.  If you’re going from the first floor to the top of the Chrysler building, too bad for them!

STEP 2: Write down the single most important fact someone should know about your organization.  Then the second, and third.

This is difficult, but you need to write down the single most important thing someone should know about your organization.  Then you need to shorten that.  Then you need to figure out the second, and so on.  The more intentional you are about this, the better your pitch will be.

Call To Action

Whether you’ve had time for three sentences or thirty, your last sentence should be a call to action in the form of a question.  It can be anything from “Will you pray for us?” to “Would you like to be on our mailing list?” or “Would you like to donate to our cause?”

Then wait.  Quietly. Do not say another word until the other person says something.  I’m serious.  See how I’m writing short sentences without commas for emphasis.

This is shocking, but some people actually think before they speak!  And this thinking takes time.  If we ask a question and then answer that question for a person, or don’t give them time to think, we’re being disrespectful.  It’s hard, but get used to five seconds of silence.

Communication is a two-way street, so you need to close with some sort of call to action. If you’re just talking at someone and it appears there’s no reason, you’re just blowing hot air.  The call to action gives what you’ve been saying a purpose. 

STEP 3: Create a closing call to action question.

I always consider an elevator pitch a work in progress, but here is the current NonBoardBoard elevator pitch:

“Have you ever been in a position as a leader where you were expected to know everything, but didn’t? (pause)  NonBoardBoard is a Christian nonprofit that helps leaders fill in those blanks of knowledge so they can be even more effective in serving others.  (short pause) We do this through a monthly speaker series, online resources like nonboardboard.org, networking and consulting. For almost five years we’ve helped leaders who help others on 5 continents and 16 countries.  Would you like to attend a NonBoardBoard meeting? (wait for response)”

Every time I’ve asked the “Seinfeld” question to a leader, I get a “yes!”  The next sentence tells what we do.  The following sentence tells how we do it.  Then there’s a little bragging, but it helps people to know we’ve been doing this a while and there’s some reach.  Finally, there is a call to action.  

Even if I had to drop the ‘how we do it’ sentence and ‘brag’ sentence, a person would still get the idea based on the lead-in question and what we do.

BONUS STEP: Customize your elevator pitches.

Your elevator pitch should change depending on who you’re talking to.  The one above is for a nonprofit leader who we want to come to an NBB event.  Here is one to an ‘influencer’, or a person who might know nonprofit leaders we want to reach.

“Have you ever known a nonprofit leader with a huge heart but who didn’t quite have all the business skills to match? (pause) NonBoardBoard is a Christian nonprofit that helps leaders fill in those blanks of knowledge so they can be even more effective in serving others.  (short pause) We do this through a monthly speaker series, online resources like nonboardboard.org, networking and consulting. For almost five years we’ve helped leaders who help others on 5 continents and 16 countries.  Would you be willing to refer (that person) to us? (wait for response)”

You’ll notice that the body stays the same, but the Seinfeld question and call to action change.

Here’s the version for someone we’re interested in having speak or write for NonBoardBoard.

“Have you ever wanted to give back to several nonprofits at once, but without a long term commitment? (pause) NonBoardBoard is a Christian nonprofit that helps leaders who don’t have all the business skill fill in those blanks of knowledge so they can be even more effective in serving others.  (short pause) We do this through a monthly speaker series, online resources like nonboardboard.org, networking and consulting. For almost five years we’ve helped leaders who help others on 5 continents and 16 countries.  Would you like to speak at a NonBoardBoard event, or write an article for NonBoardBoard.org? (wait for response)”

Again, it’s really just the questions that change.  NonBoardBoard always does the same thing, but how people engage with us changes, and this is reflected in the emotionally-connected question and the call to action.

Here are the three steps in review:

STEP 1: Write a “Seinfeld” question that helps your listener put an actual person in mind, and will also lead to what you actually do.  

STEP 2: Write down the single most important thing someone should know about your organization.  Then the second, and third, in descending order.

STEP 3: Write a closing call to action question.

BONUS STEP: Customize your elevator pitch for different audiences.

I would love to see your “Seinfeld” pitches in action!  Can you record your “Seinfeld” elevator pitch, post it online, and share the link with us by posting below?  Thanks so much!

4 Ways Your Nonprofit Should Respond to Facebook’s News Feed Changes

4 Ways Facebook Changes Ries Bar StoolIn January, Facebook will begin limiting the number of promotional posts people see

in their feed from Pages. This won’t reduce the number of ads people see; just what

Facebook deems as overly promotional posts – that aren’t paid posts.

“The idea is to increase the relevance and quality of the overall stories — including

Page posts — people see in their News Feeds,” said Facebook on their blog.

Facebook defines promotional content as:

1. Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app

2. Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real

context

3. Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads

This comes on the heels of several Facebook news feed changes that may are

pointing to the demise of organic reach on Facebook. How does this change my

nonprofit’s Facebook strategy? What tactics can I use to respond to these changes? Read More

Attachment-Based Leadership-Part 1- Amy Alexander

Screen shot 2014-10-27 at 11.05.11 AMWhen you hear the word “attachment,” what comes to mind and what does it mean to you? Does your mind go to ideas related to having an infant? Perhaps you have visions of “baby-wearing,” “co-sleeping,” “breast-feeding on demand,” “responsiveness to crying” etc. Or, did you mind go toward relationships, recalling the Tom Cruise quote from Jerry Maguire, “You complete me.” This idea is one that suggests attachment means an inability to live without the other person –   “I cannot live without you. I would simply die if you weren’t in my life.”

You are not alone if you share the above first reactions upon hearing “attachment.” Read More

Smartphone Interview Tips- Part 1

Screen shot 2014-09-05 at 2.51.18 PMWith smartphones, we now have mobile TV studios in our hands. We can interview friends and family, and more importantly for nonprofits, donors, volunteers, clients and more. Personally, I’ve done studio interviews with folks like Olympian Scott Hamilton, author and survivor Elizabeth Smart, business guru Pat Lencioni, and even NASCAR legend Darrell Waltrip. I’ve taken some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way and I’m sharing them with you here, with the help of fellow NBBer and nonprofit activist Leah Hayes.

In part 1, we’ll focus on questions like:
-What is the single most important thing to remember when interviewing someone?
-Is too close for comfort just right?
-Where should you look when you’re giving an interview?
-How do you make the interviewee the star?

NEXT, WATCH SHANNON LITTON- SHOULD NON PROFITS FOCUS ON THE HOW OR THE WHY?

Two Easy Ways To Make Cool, Sharable Graphics

TorresReisSocial media has tremendous upside. But it sure eats up a ton of content! One of the biggest challenges we face as non-profit marketers is how do we effectively communicate in the social media space and balance the content demands. When so much of social is visual, how do you create great looking graphics and social media shareables without constantly sending work to a designer?

One of my favorite iPhone apps is WordSwag. WordSwag allows you to create quick and great looking shareable graphics, all you need is a quote. For example, Beth Torres, CEO of Make A Wish Middle Tennessee, recently spoke at our @NonBoardBoard meeting and many of her quotes struck me, here’s one that I created a shareable from in about 30 seconds:

Read More

May 16- Creating A Culture of Gratitude- Beth Torres

Screen shot 2013-08-07 at 5.31.52 PMIs “Gratitude” a legitimate non-profit business concept? How can Gratitude positively drive business strategy, board management, staff management, and community engagement?

Beth Torres will reveal the truth that the power of Gratitude is something  all nonprofits can use to create a point of difference.  For location, time and details, click here.

Beth Torres has been the President and CEO of Make A Wish Middle Tennessee for the past two years.  Prior to that, she was the Vice President of Event Funding and Development for Junior Achievement.  She is a fan of the best sports conference in America, and likely the world, The Big Ten.  You can follow her on twitter here: @_beth_torres

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