October 27, 2011

How’s your elevator speech?


What are you known for?

You get on an elevator, and the chirpy woman with the same show badge asks, “So, what do you do?”


Concentrating on nothing in particular on the way down to the convention hall was the game plan, but you answer, “I’m president of a bank.” “Wow,” Chirpy says. “What bank? That one they were occupying the other day? The one with the flag in its name?” After imagining that Brian Moynihan just flinched in pain as another pin was stuck in his likeness, you answer, “No, not a big bank.”

“Oh,” Chirpy says, clearly deflated that she isn’t in fast company. But, still full of pluck, and remembering what they said at Dale Carnegie about the importance of networking, she presses for details. “What’s your bank’s name? Where is it located? How big is it? How many branches does it have? You breeze through the answers as the floors chime by, and then Chirpy says, “That’s cool. But what are you known for?” The doors glide open at the ground floor and Chirpy scampers off as you step out, and it hits you:  What are we known for?

Virtually every bank today is like every other. Banking is a commodity business. If you can’t answer Chirpy’s question with anything other than your own tagline, you have work to do. Until you can say you are a bank that has the fastest loan approvals or the lowest rates (and back it up) or the exclusive bank of whatever, you are just like everyone else, reduced to being remembered by Chirpy for your PR issues or a graphic in your logo. Get help from a good branding agency.