small business marketingFor anyone with a young business, the elevator pitch is both extremely important and extremely short. It’s the nature of the pitch: detailed and interesting enough to hook the listener on your business, but short enough that it could last the duration of an elevator ride.

Your elevator pitch can be a great way to market your small business to new prospects. You will find yourself in many situations where you have a brief window to introduce your business to someone new. Whether you’re in line at an airport gate, casually introducing yourself to someone while grabbing lunch, or talking to old friends at an alumni mixer, there are plenty of times when having a quick, go-to introduction to yourself and your company will come in handy.

An engaging and memorable elevator pitch takes time and practice to create. Here are some tips to get you started.

1. Start by fully realizing what you and your company have to offer. Write down who you are and what you do, focusing on the problem your company solves. Why do clients or customers need your service or product?

2. Find an attention-grabbing detail, statistic, question, or anecdote that makes people pay attention to what you’re saying. You can test it out on friends, family, or perfect strangers to find the right note.

3. Don’t forget who you are. Your experience can lend credibility to your company and your ideas, so find a succinct way to brag about yourself.

4. Edit. Rearrange words, change phrases, and cut your message down to the most simple, succinct version you can. Look for overly complicated or unnecessary words and industry jargon and eliminate them.

5. Work on your tone. You should be likeable, articulate, and friendly. Your tone and attitude should connect with other people—you are talking to them, not at them.

6. Create multiple versions flagged for different audiences (potential vendors, customers, investors) as well as different lengths. You want your elevator pitch to hover around 30 to 60 seconds, but consider a slightly longer one when you have the opportunity.

7. Practice, practice, practice. Whether you need to videotape your pitch, do it in front of a mirror, pitch to family, or dive in and try it out during a networking event, run it by as many people as are willing to listen. Get feedback when you can. As your business grows and changes, so should your pitch.

Don’t discount the importance of an elevator pitch. Spend some serious time developing it, and revisit it once in a while to make sure it still applies. Even though it’s short, it could give you the opportunity of a lifetime if pitched to the right person.

Ilyce Glink is the author of over a dozen books, including the bestselling 100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask and Buy, Close, Move In! Her nationally syndicated column, “Real Estate Matters,” appears in newspapers from coast-to-coast, and her Expert Real Estate Tips YouTube channel has nearly 4 million views. She is the Managing Editor of the Equifax Finance Blog, publisher of ThinkGlink.com, and owner of digital communications agency Think Glink Media. In addition to her WSB radio show and WGN radio contributions, she is also a frequent guest on National Public Radio. Ilyce is a frequent contributor to Yahoo and CBS News.