Elevator pitches top the list of small business marketing “must haves.”  Mission and vision statements aren’t far behind.  Or so say the entrepreneurial best practices.  While these positioning words are nice, they’re often filled with little more than jargon that tells a potential customer nothing of value about the business.

Instead of stringing together a collection of fancy words and idealistic terminology, consider telling a prospect what you actually do.  Really break it down to the fundamentals of what you deliver.  Consider these beautiful – yet completely confusing – offerings we recently heard small businesses identifying with:

“We deliver digital solutions” (Translation:  We build websites and apps)

“I’m a trusted business advisor”  (Translation:  I’m an attorney specializing in small businesses)

While seemingly impressive, the first set of language is really meaningless.

When crafting your elevator pitch, mission statement or even just a one-liner, keep it simple.  You’re not selling yourself short by being straightforward about the basics and clearly explaining the service you sell (or what your product does).  If the person on the other side of the conversation is interested in learning more about the specifics or intricacies, they’ll most certainly ask appropriate probing questions to which you can respond with more detail.

Another beauty of a simple explanation… it makes it really easy for people to refer potential business.  While a friend, family member or someone else in your network may not be a prospect, with a clear understanding of what you offer, they have a great ability to identify opportunities and recommend others contact you.

So reread your website, your brochures and even your new business proposals.  Consider how you introduce yourself at networking events.  Be really honest with yourself – if you didn’t know your business, would you understand it clearly enough in 30 seconds or less to want to learn more, much less buy from you?  Too close and having trouble separating yourself?  Ask your mom if she knows what you do.  If not, time for a rewrite.