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What’s Defiance County’s Elevator Speech?

Executive Director Erika Willitzer

I’ve been in several visioning meetings the last seven months since starting in my new role as Defiance County’s Economic Development Executive Director. And let’s just say, I don’t quite have the Elevator Speech down yet, for Defiance County.

I’m still discovering new aspects about Defiance County. Furthermore, I think that’s what I love most about my new position. I’m constantly meeting new people and learning new things about the county. Like Defiance is the birthplace of one of the four horsemen of Notre Dame...Don Miller. Or how a woman from Hicksville is responsible for naming Hollywood, California. Google it! It happened 😊

We’ve all delivered an elevator speech before, like at a job interview or during a mandatory networking event. But a an excellent elevator speech is persuasive, concise, and makes people yearn to learn more. And as residents of Defiance County, we need to show our community pride by getting our elevator speech down pat. I’m not asking you to trip over your words or launch into a 15-minute monologue to promote our community. But we all do need to have a real sense of pride when speaking about our communities.

So, if someone from out of town, came up to you and asked, what sets your town apart from others or what makes Defiance County unique? What would you say? If you don’t quite know…no worries. Here are some key steps, I’ve used in the past to create messaging on different projects, and I’m hoping you can share your thoughts to create a fresh elevator speech we can all use moving forward for Defiance County.

What makes our County different?

We need to find our unique value proposition (UVP). A UPV speaks to what sets a person or business apart….or in this case, our County. So, what is our County’s UVP?

Who is the audience?

First, we need to define our target audience, and you’ll have to adapt accordingly.

Easy questions to ask when drafting your speech.

  1. Are you trying to entice people to move to Defiance County?

  2. Are you trying to attract companies into the county?

  3. Or maybe, you simply want people to stop for a piece of pie at your favorite diner. I can't tell you how many times, I've heard the Mayor of Defiance invite folks to eat Bud's Famous Strawberry Pie.

My guess is that you want all three — new residents, investment, and tourism. But choosing to prioritize one over another is important in effective communications, and the elevator speech is only one part of what should be a larger strategy.

So, the trick is to assess your assets and highlight what matters most to your audience. What is the hometown advantage? A perfect example of this is the fact that both Hicksville and Sherwood are Gig Certified communities. Most their size are not. That is an impressive achievement.

What are others pitching?

While most big cities are trying to lure people into their luxurious amenities, small town living has just as much appeal, if not more. It’s typically safer, short commutes, and less stress. Allow that to play into your pitch.

Put it all together and form your pitch

Here are three tips for working on your speech:

  1. Know our county’s value and communicate it confidently.

  2. It’s easier to create an elevator speech when you have an intended goal. For example, part of the speech could say, we are a progressive community and looking for developers to build 500 new homes in the next 5 years. It’s perfectly okay to market what you plan to do that will make you unique.

  3. Finally, keep your pitch short and sweet — no longer than an elevator ride. If you see your audience looking for exit signs, you may want to go back to the drawing board.

Also, keep in mind, everyone’s elevator speech can be different, what really sells it…is your enthusiasm. Here is mine so for (below), but I’d like to hear your version too. Send to

Defiance County, Ohio – We’re a county with rich nature assets, including trails and rivers. When it comes to business, our community leaders are there in the trenches with you, helping you with your needs. Regarding culture, Defiance County is a place where everyone knows your name, and that’s not a bad thing. We pride ourselves on being connected with one another and taking care of one another and that's exactly how we also treat new businesses with an interest in Defiance County!

Now, create your own elevator speech and….go tell the world about our amazing county!

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