You Don’t Need an Elevator Pitch

Everyone needs an elevator pitch.  Or so we are told.  Let’s consider whether we need one and if so, what it is for.

Creating Tension

The elevator pitch is the shortest possible presentation of your business.  The idea is, if you are in conversation in a lift (elevators are American lifts) and you have a few seconds to explain, what do you say?

Sometimes we call the 1 minute or so at a network event an elevator pitch.  Technically, this is not right because most elevators take far less than a minute.  A minute is a long time.  You can tell a story in one minute.

The one minute story has value.  You can use your 1 minute version as the foundation for a longer story.

So, the one minute builds on your 10 second pitch. It is usually addressed to a group and rarely to one person; it builds your brand or reputation.  If you regularly attend a network group, constant repetition builds your brand, so people remember you when they meet someone who needs your services.

So, you either build your brand or offer a call to action through the one minute pitch.  Do you want your audience to remember you or to respond to something, for example notice of a meeting?

Remember though you never get the same audience twice.  Whilst it is important you convey a consistent message, it has to be asked how effective your one minute pitch is alone.

So, what is the purpose of the 10 second elevator pitch?  It is not about selling and it is about creating tension.  The point is not to aim for accuracy so much as something to start a conversation.  It should piqué the interest of your audience of one, so they ask for more information.

Words and Images

  1. Do words and images matter? How do you present yourself?  Do you know 12 words that show you are on the ball?
  2. How do you make it clear you are there for your market? How do you use words to convey your focus on your market, eg us and I.
  3. What is your superpower, the thing your market would miss if it was gone?

Your Elevator Role

Take that last question, your superpower.  Whatever your field, you specialise in something that separates you from others in the same field; something of value to you and your market.  This superpower may not be immediately obvious and if you cannot identify it for yourself, perhaps you could ask others for insights.

This is your elevator role.  Once you know your superpower you can describe it in 6 words.  (Six is a little arbitrary but it should be your aim.)


I help <name a group of people> to <name something they aspire to>.

So, I might say “I help coaches enjoy their marketing”.

First word is likely to be “I”.  You could use a company name (this is why 6 words is arbitrary, your company name may be more than one word).  You could use “we” but remember they might not know the “we” you refer to.

Second word is likely to be “help” but could be another such as support, heal, challenge …

Third word is your market.  My sentence uses “coaches” but I could change it to “consultants” if I knew I was talking to a consultant.  It would be more accurate if I said “coaches, consultants and freelancers” but we are aiming for clarity.

The last 3 words should describe your superpower.  The point I make is coaches should enjoy their marketing.  Many coaches may not have considered this.  They also have objections, eg isn’t it more important the marketing works?

If the listener thinks they don’t enjoy their marketing or objects to the emphasis on enjoyment, this is tension.  That tension should result in conversation.  If people walk away after such a clear statement, perhaps your statement does not create enough tension.  You might seek better wording or a better superpower.  Try not to change too much, give your statement time to prove itself.  Remember consistency is important.

Pitch or Role?

Perhaps you don’t need an elevator pitch but you certainly need an elevator role.  Consistently turning up and playing that role is likely to build your brand reputation.

Following this thirty-fifth post to encourage coaches to reflect on relational marketing, take this opportunity to sign up below.  You get a weekly round-up of my posts and a pdf about how to make sure you are charging what your business is worth.

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About the Author

I've been a community development worker since the early 1980s in Tyneside, Teesside and South Yorkshire. I've also worked nationally for the Methodist Church for eight years supporting community projects through the church's grants programme. These days I am developing an online community development practice combining non-directive consultancy, strategic management, participatory methods and development work online and offline. If you're interested contact me for a free consultation.

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