Here’s something that I’ve been discussing with a number of people over the last few weeks. I’m trying to figure out how to identify and engage with influencers and advocates.

I’ve been going to lots of startup events, investor meetings, and so on. Often, there are events with ten startups and 30-40 angels and investors; the startups have five minutes for their elevator pitch and the dog-and-pony. You can tell when the founders do the elevator pitch; their eyes lose focus and they turn into robots as they state their mission in a flat voice, e.g., “Plooky enables emerging technologies to monetize by leveraging verticals with dynamic cloud-based solutions“.

Like, whatever. Add a few acronyms (CRM, ERP, DBMS) and they get funding.

All of you know your elevator pitch. Well, most of you know it. You write it. You memorize it. And eventually, you can deliver it with plausible enthusiasm.

But you will never get your influencers and advocates to repeat it. They’re not going to memorize  your elevator pitch.

Why it is important what your influencers and advocates say about you? Because they’ll move others to buy your products and services. Referrals from them have a very high chance of becoming clients and customers. I co-founded a marketing agency in 2005. We tracked our leads and sales and found that cold calls converted at 5-10%, whereas warm leads (people referred to us by our advocates) converted at 75% or more.

So what will your advocate tell a good friend about your startup? Your advocate generally won’t be in your industry. Your advocate probably won’t know your technical concepts.

  • She’s going to shorten it (just a few words)
  • She’s going to personalize it (“Andreas does __________”)
  • She’s going to focus on the benefit for the listener (“He can help YOU with __________”)
  • She’ll use words everyone understands
  • And worst of all, she’s going to ignore what you say and she’ll use entirely other concepts

The Grandmother Pitch

Thinking about this and talking with friends about this, I came up with the idea of the “The Grandmother Pitch”. What would your grandmother tell another grandmother about you or your project?

Two grandmothers talking together don’t know about technical stuff. They’ll just say it straight.

What did Steve Jobs’ grandmother say about him?

  • (Grandmother Betty): “What’s little Stevie doing now?”
  • (Grandmother Wilma): “Stevie is selling phones.”

So, what about me?

First, here is what I think I do (my elevator pitch). “Global expert in content marketing.

Why do I say that? My book is an Amazon Best Seller. It’s published in Europe, North America, and South America (China coming in a few months). No other author in content marketing is published in even one other country. So that’s my UVP (Unique Value Proposition) and POD (Point of Differentiation).

That’s great, no? Nobody else can say that.

But… is anyone saying that about me?

I found two ways to see what others think I do. First, there are LinkedIn’s endorsements. Every time you visit LinkedIn, it asks you to endorse your friends for various skills. Does Karen know about branding? Endorse her!

Andreas' Endorsements at LinkedIn: What My Friends Think I Do... (Click for larger view)

I realized a few weeks ago this was a voting system. What do my professional contacts think I do? I have 691 votes (there’s a “See 23+” button, which shows many more items). SEO has 114 votes (16%) and Digital Marketing has 104 votes (15%).

You can see my surprise: what I think I do (content marketing) has only seven votes (1%).

This means if I go to market with my elevator pitch (content marketing), 99% of my contacts won’t present me as a content marketer. Even though I’m the author of an Amazon Best Seller on content marketing, they don’t think of me that way. My LinkedIn friends see me as someone in SEO and Digital Marketing.

(Time for a Tip: I suspect LinkedIn uses these votes when determining which profiles to show. My LinkedIn profile had 47 categories for endorsement. Most of these have very few votes. Go to your profile. You can edit your list of endorsement categories. By deleting minor and duplicate categories, you can focus votes on your top categories.)

I wondered if there was another way to find what my friends think I do. So I set up a survey on a webpage at my website. I sent a short email to 100 people in my professional and business contacts. I asked them to write a short sentence in plain English if they were to tell someone else about me. Basically, “Andreas does _______________ (fill in the blank).

Here are the results:

  • SEO and other digital marketing for large and small companies.
  • Web traffic development support services.
  • He is an author.
  • Andreas identifies new marketing approaches.
  • Digital visionary.
  • Content and digital marketing expert.
  • Marketing, Author, Advisor, Entrepreneur.
  • Explain difficult topics in everyday language.
  • Write books.
  • He writes books and tries to figure out and share how to survive the search engines—particularly Google.
  • He is a content marketing expert… his Linkedin tagline says so 🙂 he used to be an SEO expert and may be an influence marketing expert very soon 🙂
  • Andreas helps companies “talk to the market place” based on measurable input. Andreas also helps companies use social media as a platform to create traction and create social media strategies. Again… in a measurable way. Andreas know the dirty secrets about available data and how to utilize it.
  • Andreas helps companies accelerate sales.
  • Teaches others what he learns.
  • Online marketing / advertising.
  • Business and marketing consulting.
  • Helps clients market online effectively.
  • Digital marketing and analytics.
  • Andreas is an expert at getting web traffic.
  • SEO strategist, Author.
  • Creates researches measures strategizes.
  • SEO, creates marketing solutions via technology, writes.
  • Andreas reinvents the world one business at a time.
  • Andreas is search engine marketing evangelist.
  • Consulting on SEO and content strategy.
  • Andreas teaches companies how to increase their revenues/profits by optimizing their online marketing strategies.
  • Advises about online marketing.
  • Advise business about marketing.
  • Translate leading edge digital marketing technology into useful marketing media capabilities.
  • Author. Expert on SEO.
  • Andreas shares marketing insight.
  • Consulting, writing books, entrepreneurship.
  • Manage online marketing by creating content.
  • Author speaker SEO.
  • Digital Customer Centricity Expert.
  • Writer, visionary, practical tipster

I went through the list (36 entries), highlighted the key concepts, and counted them:

  • 19 Digital marketing (53%)
  • 9 SEO (25%)
  • 9 Author (25%)
  • 4 Content marketing (11%)
  • 3 Visionary (8%)
  • 2 Entrepreneur  (5%)

Notice how this list matches the LinkedIn list? Digital marketing and SEO are at the top. (LinkedIn didn’t have a category for “Published Author”, so I added that.) (There’s overlap because several people used multiple categories.)

Oscar Wilde said “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about”.

Here’s my version: “It’s not what you say about you, it’s what others say about you.”

How to Use This: Make It Easy for Others to Talk about You

Okay, how to use all of this? The goal is how to craft effective brand messaging for your startup or yourself. If you write a wonderful brand message but others won’t use it, it’s a waste of time.

You have to write brand messaging that others understand and they will repeat to their close friends.

  • Three or four words
  • In plain language that your grandmother would use
  • Focus on the benefit to others (what it does for them, not you)
  • Make it personal (e.g., “He helps you get more traffic with SEO.“)

Align your message with what people say about you or your brand.

I’ll think about this over the weekend and rewrite my messaging. It’ll include SEO and Digital Marketing.

Next Steps for You

You can do these ideas, whether it’s  for your personal branding or your startup’s branding:

  • Go to LinkedIn and edit your endorsement categories. Add or delete categories.
  • Use a survey tool and ask your friends what they would say about you. I used QuestionPro.com (free). There are dozens of these tools.
  • Rewrite your brand messaging. Make it easy for your advocates to tell others what you do.
  • Add your brand messaging to your website and your profiles at Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook,etc.