The Perfect Elevator Pitch?

How much can a label such as “coach” or “mentor” say about you? My recent blog Call Yourself A Coach? promoted some interesting discussions, online and off.

The consensus? Of course a label can’t say everything about you – because there’s more to you than the label.

But my point was that labels aren’t just about you – they have their primary effect  “in the eye of the beholder”.

When someone who doesn’t know you sees your logo or web URL, hears your elevator pitch or even just catches your name in conversation, they have a response which has more to do with them – their knowledge, their experience, their assumptions, their prejudices – than about you.

Typically, if they feel that they understand the label, that’s it. They’re satisfied. They put you in a mental category and close the lid. No open loop, no more thinking to do.

And what happens next? They move on, and probably instantly forget you.

I’ve recently been doing a lot of work with coaches to help each of them find a commercial “sweet spot” (I hate the word “niche”!)

Frequently, at the start of the process they expect that once they find their perfect niche, they’ll have an elevator pitch that everyone they meet will immediately understand.

Really? Is that what you want?

Pretty much everybody you meet will understand: “I’m a life coach and I an help anybody with anything.”

But they won’t do anything with it. It boxes you up with other would-be life coaches they’ve met, to be instantly forgotten.

So, what’s your goal with that elevator pitch? Is it to label yourself, to put yourself in a box?

Or could it start a conversation which builds a real, authentic relationship with the human being in front of you?

  • What do you reckon? Please comment below!

8 Comments

  • Vince

    08/06/2011

    Hi Judy, I prefer my elevators to go straight up and down. I get nervous when they pitch…

    And I never hear of elevator yaws….

  • antje strauch

    08/06/2011

    Following the self-labelling, I’ve always thought that an elevator pitch should ideally include a call for action – excuse the marketing speak – or elicit a response beyond the ‘this sounds interesting’ from the person, you are pitching to. If you are in an elevator at a client’s, you could mention at least the floor, you are visiting to intrigue them. If you are attending an event, it’s a ‘come and visit’. Or if it’s somebody, who could usefully do something for you, it’s a ‘it would be great, HR Director, if you could sign the contract for your staff to attend…..’.

  • Judy

    08/06/2011

    Cheers Vince 🙂

    And on the embodied cognition front, I wonder if it makes a difference whether the elevator is rising or falling when you introduce yourself?

    Antje, I agree wholeheartedly – indeed my friend Linda Schneider’s just putting the finishing touches to a training programme about how to structure just such a conversation. About which, more later.

  • Richard

    01/07/2011

    So, what’s your goal with that elevator pitch? Is it to label yourself, to put yourself in a box?

    Hi Judy,great article,great blog.
    I think the most important way to look at it is, consider two boxes .One is your own that you are sharing with, the second one, which is who you are sharing with.The first box(your own)is posistioning yourself as a solution to a problem.The second box (theirs)needs to be where the person your sharing with steps into the posistion of someone who deeply sees, hears, or feels,(or all three)their own idenity in your solution.

  • Richard

    01/07/2011

    Lets clarify and quantify
    That was alot of words for a simple subject.
    Who you are ,and what you do ,as the solution to their problem.

  • Johnny

    10/07/2011

    Hi, great article and makin’ me think. Agree with earlier post about CTA’s. Every type of contact we have with others we should try to incorporate some type of CTA like “who are 2 or 3 people you know who would benefit from my “sweet spot”, make an offer for mutual finders fee for referals or even just trade “likes” on FB.

  • Karen

    14/07/2011

    Coaching? I love what I do, niche? Who, what, how are the most difficult for me to explain in a two sentence pitch the benefits in what niche / field as theses cross over, run parallel or both depending on the individual. Actors have an agent. It would be so much easier if there were agents for all careers to go out and sell you and get the work. However, there is a BUT coming, actors have to do readings, screen tests etc; so that in its self is selling their pitch. Back to the drawing board.

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