Ditch the Elevator Pitch

Elevator Buttons

An elevator pitch, sometimes called an elevator speech, is a short summary used to concisely describe what you do. It’s referred to as an elevator pitch because it’s based on the idea that you should be able to deliver it in the time it takes to ride an elevator. Most elevator pitches are between 30 and 60 seconds long.

The elevator pitch is a marketing concept that’s been around forever.

However, I believe the time has come to ditch the elevator pitch.

While I can appreciate the idea behind the elevator pitch, in my experience the actual execution is usually less than effective. Entrepreneurs often work very hard to craft the perfect 30-second sound bite. They strive to sum up everything they do in a sentence or two. Then they memorize it and go out into the world to deliver it.

The other day a client told me that when she introduced herself at a networking meeting, her introduction felt bland and boring, to her. When she shared her introduction with me, I could see why. It was a marketing copy sound bite. It wasn’t authentic. Her passion didn’t shine through. The words weren’t words she would normally use in conversation. It was too crafted.

That’s why I don’t believe in elevator pitches.

Yes, you absolutely need to be able to clearly and concisely articulate what you do. But you don’t need a memorized sound bite. You need to know exactly why you’re in business and who you’re here to help. You need to have a strong point-of-view. When you’re crystal clear about these things, the right words will come out whenever someone asks, “So what do you do?”

You won’t have to worry about whether you’ve memorized your response. You won’t be nervous about delivering it accurately. Both of which put you 100% in your head and result in that bland, boring, dispassionate answer.

When you know who you are and what you do, the answer is easy.

It flows off your tongue. Yes, the words may be different every time, but the core idea is the same.

So ditch the pitch. Instead, spend some time getting clear on who you are and what you do. Identify your unique point-of-view. Embrace it. Then go out and spread the word, from your heart.

About Debbie

After spending 32 years in marketing, Debbie now spends her time blogging, teaching online courses, doing volunteer pet therapy, and encouraging others to follow a more inspired path through life.

10 comments on “Ditch the Elevator Pitch

  1. Thanks Shayla.

    Hey, I was just sharing about you in a talk I gave last Friday in Orlando about how you came full circle in your branding when you really got clear about who you are and what you stand for: CHANGE!

    Hope you and your biz are doing well.

  2. I So Agree with this. I have had huge success by asking someone first “What do you do?” and gauging from their response coming from my heart to respond to their needs with what I do. Works a charm.

  3. So timely as I have my first all women networking event next week … I have been working with the concept of the “hook” … where you say who you work with (target market), specifically what help you give your market in the way of discovery, be or do, their transformation – how they will feel or look and what “pain” they will avoid by working with me. It feels more natural to think and speak in these. I’ll let you know how how it goes!

  4. I would add to your “who you are and what you do. Identify your unique point-of-view.” When you say who you are, don’t label yourself with, e.g., I’m a consultant.” Instead slide into what you do by framing it in terms of how others have benefited from it, e.g., “I teach busy moms how to comfortably and permanently shed any extra pounds at home using the latest fun dance moves.”

    You have at most 30 seconds so make them count. You never want to sound as if you’re “selling,” just providing interesting, engaging information to start a conversation wherein you can provide some free, useful tips to the other person.

    In networking where you are most likely using your introduction, you want to make it all about helping the other person, not achieving some pre-set goal for yourself.

  5. I totally agree Signe. When I say to “know who you are” that is indeed knowing who you uniquely are and how you serve others in a way only you can.

    You are so right it is about the other person. I think we’ve all been on the receiving end of a networker who is just trying to sell us. I don’t know about you but it makes me want to find someone else to talk to, FAST!

    I think if we can all be clear about the following two questions, we’ll best answer when someone asks, “So what do you do?”

    1) WHO do I serve?
    2) HOW do I serve them (what do I help them accomplish in a way no one else does)?

  6. Exactly! You want to get them talking about themselves. You can learn so much that can be helpful for you to help them and learn more about potential prospects (perspectives, needs, wants, attitudes, etc.).

    And, besides, your being focused on them creates a great first impression. Show interest and listen and they will tell you just about anything you could want to know.

    This reminds me of an exercise I have people do to learn to interact, listen, and make small talk comfortably. Talk to complete strangers anywhere: in a store, in a bank. Make an observation about the common environment or, better still, sincerely compliment the person on something.

    People need and love to be noticed and given attention. Furthermore,they have stories they are dying to share. It’s good practice for you and can totally make their day.

  7. Hi Debbie – Several months ago mine finally came to me: I help experienced dieters keep their weight off permanently. Permanent weight loss starts in your mind, not in your mouth.

    It is so easy to remember, because it is what I am about. It feels great to finally have a concise and intriguing summary of what I do! Thanks for your help in me getting there.

  8. Very interesting blog, thank you Debbie.
    I’m been struggling with my elevator speech for the best part of a year now. You’ve hit it on the head why that is – I’m still not clear on my market!
    Talking about the benefits that my clients have experienced definitely helps, though!

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