5 Reasons Not to Have a Cookie Cutter Elevator Pitch

cookie cutters

Yesterday during my talk at the Girlfriend’s Guide to the Business of Blogging Webinar, I was asked to give my elevator pitch. I surprised many when I told them I don’t have one. I used to have a generic, cookie cutter pitch, but I rarely used it and found it very ineffective.

Here’s why I prefer the more personal approach:

1. Every potential client is different: I don’t believe in scripts or form letters. I like the personal touch. When I send an application or query letter to a potential client, it’s always different. I research each client and learn about his business and about his writers. It’s important to know what works for him and what doesn’t. My preference is to tailor a pitch to each individual person rather than create a generic pitch geared towards many. Unless you have a different pitch for each person, it really doesn’t make sense to say the same thing to everyone. Let me ask you this, do you think a web master will respond the same way to a magazine article pitch? Do you feel someone who specializes in green living will respond in the same manner as a pitch given to a representative for a gas guzzling car manufacturer?It’s nice to have an idea of what to say to a potential client, but not all of them are the same.

2. No one likes to be cornered in an elevator: Unless you’re invited to do so, most folks don’t enjoy being stopped by someone who is giving a pitch. Everyone is a potential client but that doesn’t mean they want to be stopped in an elevator or conference floor by someone who is looking for work. Talk with them and gauge their needs. If the opportunity arises, share ideas. If you feel they can use your services say, “I have some ideas I’d like to share with you during a less hectic time. Will you take my business card?” Rather than pitch, listen and take it from there.

3. You can’t pitch unless you truly know your audience: Though we covered much of this in item number one, I’d like to stress that without knowing your potential client, you can’t offer a standout pitch. How can you convince someone you can generate sales or build his online presence without being able to give specific instances? If you know nothing about your potential client, you can’t convince him you’re the best person for a gig.

4. Where and why are you pitching? Are you at a job fair? Go ahead and pitch. Are you at the supermarket? Probably not the best idea. Consider where you are and the reason for being there. You might turn people off if you start following them around with a sales pitch.

5. The personal approach works best: Pitches are good. Freelance writing is all about sales. However, the best sales people are the ones who don’t sound like sales people. When you’re personal with your response, folks respond. They see through hype. The they want sincerity. Sure, have an idea in your mind should a pitch-worthy occasion arise, but think about the person to whom you’re pitching and the best approach.

Would you send the same exact letter to every person who advertises for a job?

I’m not saying you shouldn’t have an elevator pitch. Just consider your source and location before pitching to someone. You may stand out in their mind, but not in a good way.

Do you really use an elevator pitch? If so, do you use the same pitch every time …how has that worked for you?


  1. says

    No. Each client is different and they should be treated as such.

    I won’t be serious in a humor column pitch nor would I be a twisted comedian in a parenting blog pitch. Well, not unless they asked for humor.

    By offering a pitch that’s exactly the same you run the risk of someone who has seen your pitch before wondering if you bothered to read the submission guidelines or ad. As often as editors change, that’s a very good possibility.

  2. says

    I have an elevator pitch, but only because I have a particularly technical dayjob that few people have heard of. It varies based on how interested my listener is. I can start off saying ‘I manage a big database of mapping information’, and if they are interested I can say ‘It’s called GIS and it allows people to analyse information based on where things are’. Usually that’s the point where people’s eyes glaze over…
    Either way, I think it’s useful to have something prepared – it just requires some empathy (intuition?) to know when to diverge from the script.
    People don’t always have the luxury of researching their potential client beforehand, especially somewhere like a tradeshow.

  3. says

    I don’t have a problem with elevator pitches per se, I’m sort of against any kind of generic, impersonal pitches. I think it’s important to know the market and the client first and tailoring a pitch to that person or market. Also, I believe there’s a time and a place for everything. I don’t know of anyone who wants to be cornered in an elevator and given a sales pitch.

    It’s good to know how to approach people and talk about yourself and your business to them, but be careful before cornering someone into a sales talk because it may have the opposite effect.

    As for tradeshows, I attend conferences all the time. I don’t pitch there, I have conversation. I talk and I share ideas. If it looks like someone and I can do business I’ll offer him my card and ask if we can continue the discussion after we all get back home. Many times you can tell during a conversation if there’s an interest in working together.

    My approach may not be for everyone, but it’s been my experience that a personal touch works better than a sales pitch.

  4. says

    I don’t have an official elevator pitch, because I don’t walk up to strangers and pitch to them. Mostly, I mention what I do as a normal part of conversation (if the subject comes up or if we get chatting at a fair/workshop/conference). If the person is interested /needs what I offer, they can ask questions and we can let the nature of business negotiation take its course. If they’re really interested, I take their contact details with the promise that I will be in touch with more info (better than expecting them to remember who I am and to follow up when they have likely met other people who offer a similar service.)

  5. says

    Deb, you rock! This is exactly how I feel about the subject. Many blog posts I have read lately seem to be badgering me into having an elevator pitch.
    Who cares?
    Your statement that “I have some ideas that I’d like to share with you…” is perfect for most occasions. If I’m at a social gathering and someone asks me what I do, I just say “I’m a writer” and things take off easily from there. Most folks don’t come into contact with writers of any stripe so they are immediately interested in learning more about what I write.


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