How the SO WHAT? test transforms your elevator pitch

For some time now I have been preaching the benefits of my SO WHAT? test which, in its nose-thumbing rudeness, has helped me and many others to really raise the game of our promotional writing.How the SO WHAT? test transforms your elevator pitch

Recently I shared a business writing workshop with Trudy Van Buskirk‘s very lively group of women solopreneurs at The Beacher Café, that notorious haunt of trendy Torontonian, er, Beachers from The Beach.

Writing for “referability”

Helping develop the content side of training and coaching delivered by Jacky Sherman, one the UK’s leading Referral Institute franchisees, I have learned a lot about how a tightening process can be applied to many business networkers’ service offerings.

This not only makes them more referable, but also forces them to drill their 60 second / elevator pitches right down to the nitty-gritty that cuts through the how, where and what gets right through to “what’s in it for you.”

How to use the SO WHAT? test

Here are some of the points we covered in the Toronto session…

Answering the question, “what do you do?”

So often people will just reply with the job title and the bald facts of what the business does. Some may have twigged that you should say how you help people, but then they say they help people to do what they  do – not what the outcome is for those people.

Later during the event we went into the full 60 second content of our elevator speeches, but to start things off we worked with a single sentence.

I used my own business as an example which helped everyone see how we should drill our thinking down into that opening sentence, which forms the platform or the rest of the content.

I’ll share that information in a later article, but in the meantime here is the crucial part…

My own experience with the SO WHAT? test

Being someone who likes to put their money where their mouth is, usually, I tried it out on myself. Here’s what I started with…

“I make people’s written words work harder for their business”


What difference does it make if the words work harder? Who cares how hard they work, when what really matters is what they achieve? OK, try again…

“I make people’s written words work harder for their marketing”


Hmmmm, OK, getting a bit warmer, but even though this may conjure up images of thousands of little words beavering away to build text for a web page doesn’t exactly say “what’s in it for you.” For all you know all those little words could be compiling themselves into Gettysburg Address.

“I make people’s words work harder to get them more business”


There’s certainly more of an interesting promise there, but if you know anything about the advertising industry you’ll know that the wrong kind of business is about as useful and welcome as a chocolate tea kettle. Let’s keep going.

“I make people’s words work harder to get them more business and make more money”


Not bad, but a little blunt for the more genteel of business networking events. Great stuff for companies selling firewood or sacks of manure, but it’s far too in-yer-face for the spiritual coaches and yoga teachers.

“I make people’s words work harder to get them more of the business they want”


So that’s not bad, and ideal to use with people who tend towards the vocational/professional side of business rather than the straight commercial. For them, how about…

“I make people’s words work harder to get them more profitable business”


So that tells me right away my words could be making me more money, and how.

Have you tried the SO WHAT? test on the first sentence of your elevator pitch?

Try it and see if makes a difference – and share your thoughts on it here!




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