Why the Elevator “Pitch” is Outdated

Everyone talks about delivering the perfect elevator “pitch”, but what does that really mean? It sounds so self-serving. Probably because it can be. Most people love to talk about themselves, right? But don’t make that outdated mistake. In today’s business world, relationships are the center of any marketing strategy and to cultivate the most effective relationships your focus should be on helping others not over talking about yourself.  

I define the elevator pitch in my November 9th blog post http://ow.ly/4az4I as a “confidently delivered, 30-60 second, easy-to-understand description about your company and your product or service but described in a way that demonstrates how you solve a challenge or problem.”  The most important take away from this post is that “it really isn’t about you, but how you can help others.” So think about it. If you are helping someone else, wouldn’t that make it more like an elevator “promise”?

A pitch is something you throw AT someone. A promise is something you do FOR someone. It is more personal. Marketing is all about cultivating relationships and when you are building a relationship with a prospect, lead or customer, it just feels more comfortable to make a promise about what you can do to help them. Or about how you can solve their problems or how you can be a valuable resource for them.

And think about when the best time to deliver an elevator promise….it would be AFTER you have had the time to listen and learn a little more about the challenges a potential lead may be facing. So, before being too quick to answer the question “what do you do?” with your very well-rehearsed elevator “pitch”, maybe consider asking a couple of questions and then delivering your elevator “promise” in the context of how you can more specifically help that particular person. They will appreciate that you listened and you will have the opportunity to better position yourself for a longer-term relationship.

For more information about how to craft a memorable elevator promise, go to http://ow.ly/4aznx for a guide to help  you create a lasting and memorable first impression.


  • Jean

    So you are saying to use the same rules for an elevator promise as you did for the elevator pitch This is very interesting until that. If it is that different wouldn’t the way to create the promise be different as well?

  • BD-PRo Marketing Solutions

    Jean, thanks for your comment and you are right! As I have been deeply involved in networking over the past several months, it has occurred to me that the elevator promise is a more personal approach to answering the question “what do you do” and I will be writing another post in the near future to address this and to provide my updated thinking on the creation of an elevator “promise” vs and elevator “pitch”. Many of the points are still relevant, yet there are ways to adapt this approach to increase relevancy and relationship building skills.

  • Wayne Law

    The elevator pitch to me is more about having the person giving the pitch being clear on what business or services they offer without a lot of fluff. The term really came about more in networking circles as they tried to help others in business understand their own business and what they clearly had to offer to others. If you really came off in any situation as “pitchy” to anyone these days they would shut you down …perhaps without even telling you! So in most ways you are correct…don’t sell products…BUILD RELATIONSHIPS!

    Coach Wayne

  • BD-PRo Marketing Solutions

    Wayne, you are absolutely right. Unfortunately, I am finding that much too often the pitch has become too self-serving and does not open the door to future conversations and can hinder the progress of what networking is supposed to do, connect people with common interests, goals, and outcomes to create business opportunities and relationships. I just returned from a networking meeting where the person I was talking to actually thanked me for asking her questions because she is the one that typically is doing all the listening yet is rarely given the opportunity to talk about her business.

  • Wayne Law

    I love your note on what networking was originally founded on…common interests, goals and outcomes. That has given way to more networking groups that are more like opportunities to “market/sell” rather than share ideas. I think they most effective I have seen are the ones that are people who are in direct competition with one another. They come there clearly understanding that that the market has room for everyone and there is a niche in there. Once they understand that with the use of the Internet they is WAY MORE pie than any of us can eat if we are truly working at getting our marketing message out there!

  • Jason Cobine

    Pitching like a “pro” is not good news for the personal brand.

    Yet missing opportunities is not good for the bank balance.

    Being able to let people know what you have to offer them is a great way to avoid missing opportunities.


  • BD-PRo Marketing Solutions

    Jason, I definitely agree. I believe that many people miss opportunities because they can’t stop “pitching” and don’t do more listening.

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