Jeff Hayzlett at the Owners Conference

By | October 15, 2010

If you take in the pre-show events such as the Owners Conference and Executive Outlook, Graph Expo can last almost a week, at least it seemed that long to me. The Owners Conference for the NAQP membership started on Friday and the Executive Outlook show was on Saturday. Both were extraordinary this year. Former chief marketing officer for Kodak, Jeff Hayzlett, author of “The Mirror Test: Is Your Business Really Breathing?” keynoted the Owners Conference.

Jeff has not changed much. He ran his small print shop in Sioux Falls, SD. I remember talking with him two decades ago at shows where he did sales training. He has remained a true believer in the “power of print.”  He has always been an entrepreneurial, out-of-the-box thinker. The only thing that has changed is he has become a celebrity due to his Twitter account, appearances on television shows including “The Apprentice” and his plain spoken nature.

Opening the Owners Conference, Hayzlett talked about Proof of Life, which he defined as why are you doing what you are doing or why are you in the game of business. Jeff went on to discuss that while passion is important, passion does not substitute for planning.

But his first in-depth discussion was on “the new elevator pitch” which he has coined the 118 which comes from the 118 seconds you actually have to pitch: 8 seconds to connect with a person and up to 110 seconds to drive it home – less than two minutes with only seconds to spare.

The first eight seconds is the length of time the average human can concentrate on something and not lose some focus. It is also the length of time of one of the toughest rides in the world: a qualified ride in professional bull riding. In these first eight seconds, you must be compelling, strong and focused to be successful. You must hold on as one of the meanest, toughest animals in the world tries to throw you off – just like any good prospect will.

Make it those 8 seconds, and I’ll give you 110 more to drive your message home with no bull. (This is just a sample of Jeff’s colorful language.) But if you have not sold me at the end of the 118, I will start to tune out.

The 118, like the elevator pitch before it, sells much more than a business’ products or services and unique selling proposition (USP). It is an essential piece in building your brand. It conveys who you are, the assurance your business offers and the promises you will deliver on.

If you have kids you might think that 118 seconds is more time than you have to grab and hold their attention. What do you think? Do you believe in the 118?

Howard Fenton is a Senior Consultant at NAPL. Howie advises commercial printers, in-plants, and manufacturers on workflow management, operations, digital services, and customer research.

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