Marketing: An Elevator Pitch

"What do you do?” It’s a question that is casually asked in Ubers, at cocktail parties, and in elevators around the globe. There’s even a term for it—“the elevator pitch”: a succinct reiteration of the solutions or a sales pitch. When I tell people that I own my own marketing firm and work with organizations to help them meet their communication goals, there is typically a blank stare. Then realization hits, eyes light up, and the response: “You do PR!”

Back to the drawing board to perfect my own one-liner about my business, I’ve done a lot of pondering about exactly what I offer my clients. Henceforth, I came up with the golden trifecta of marketing communications, planning and content development, and strategic storytelling. This has really clarified my offer to small- to medium-sized businesses and the non-profit organizations I support.

But then, the dreaded “You do graphic design?” or “Does that mean social media?” pops up again and again. So, to set the record straight, what is marketing? The better question to me is, “What does marketing include?”

A good strategic marketing communications plan includes sections on brand. “Oh, a brand is my logo, right?” A company’s brand certainly includes a logo, but in addition to visual cues of design and colors, it’s the essence of what the organization does, its competencies, and its values. Brand includes the personality of the group—what is the voice/tone, language, key messages, and how the organization meets the needs of key audiences.

Once the foundation of brand is set, then an overall marketing strategy can be determined. This includes deciding on the best tactics—like leveraging advertising campaigns and public relations—to market the brand. While a paid social media push is a fantastic idea for product company with incredible imagery, it may not be the best option for a professional services organization. This is where strategy comes into play. And crafting the right story—via this strategic storytelling I keep mentioning—is crucial.

We think content strategy should be at the center of any strategic marketing plan, feeding channels such as website, public relations, social media, blog posts, etc. The goal is to showcase our clients’ expertise in their fields, and strategic storytelling and sharing client’s unique value proposition is at the cornerstone of our communication efforts.

Public relations: absolutely essential—with the correct messaging. Graphic design, snazzy infographics, and catching imagery…yasss! Carefully planned events and orchestrated launches can be excellent parts of a larger marketing strategy. Newsletters…even handwritten thank you notes can be a more traditional tactical arm used well with other components.

I think you get the point—all of the above are encompassed in the bigger grouping of “marketing”. And we do a lot of it…it’s in our DNA and part of our everyday work. Cue the elevator music…and please contact us if we can help you on any of your strategic marketing and communications objectives. 

The Importance of Storytelling

I love a good story. From before-and-after tales to business fables, I am fond of a good yarn. And when a story tells of a life-changing moment that happens because of a struggle, I am all ears. Add to it that a story has a bit of someone’s inspirational personal history, I can’t get enough.

The scene for our story? A sunny afternoon at Cured, a lovingly restored restaurant in San Antonio’s Pearl district. Once the Administration Building of the Pearl Brewery, it’s now a dining hotspot created by Chef Steve McHugh. A repeat James Beard Award finalist, Chef McHugh and his team have created a welcoming environment to enjoy charcuterie and a tasty wine list, which top an interesting menu.

But no, this is not a restaurant review. It’s a story about how someone’s history made our own experience even sweeter. From the moment our group of four walked into Cured, we were skillfully taken care of by a cheerful sommelier and unobtrusive server. We were delighted to have an impromptu tour—from the brewery’s safe to the original early 1900s fixtures to a printed description of the restoration.

Rustic ceiling at Cured, San Antonio

Rustic ceiling at Cured, San Antonio

Our somm friend sent over a taste of rosé when he noticed that we were celebrating an engagement among us. While we sipped this treat, he told us Chef McHugh’s story. Based in New Orleans, he was diagnosed with lymphoma and determined that the medical centers in the River City would be his best option. He soon moved to Texas.

We learned that Chef McHugh opened Luke, John Besh’s first restaurant outside of New Orleans. Our informative sommelier shared that concurrently, Chef McHugh went through rounds of treatment. Soon, he had plans to open a restaurant of his own in the Pearl. After his doctor indicated that he showed signs of remission, McHugh was inspired to rename his restaurant Cured, as this was the first time he felt like he would be.

This experience underlines the importance storytelling has on all of us. Whether it be a powerful award-winning movie or a rags-to-riches fable, telling a compelling story is an essential human trait. Done well, it can be at the cornerstone of an organization’s brand or a shared history. Cured has incredible cured meats, a charming staff, and a lovely space. But it’s the story that makes Cured stand out…a beautiful story that weaves a tale of triumph, inspiration, and being cured.