How to Pitch When You’re In a Pinch

Pitch-in-a-pinch_LI How to Pitch When You’re In a Pinch

As a professional marketer, I stress the importance of an elevator pitch to my clients. Here’s why. When you’re in a pinch to describe what you do, falling back on your tried-and-true elevator pitch can be a home run.

True Story

I used to work in the Fox News building in NYC and was often in an elevator with high-profile celebs and news people. Sometimes they would ask me what I did? Without an elevator pitch, I wouldn’t have been able to answer them before they left the elevator. By providing them with something clever, they were able to remember me more easily the next time we met.


Here’s my theory. Think in the 3-30-3-30-model.

Three seconds is great when you’re crunched for time, or just getting introduced to someone. Thirty seconds should be used when you have a little more time, but may not know the person, like at a tradeshow cocktail party. Three minutes is perfect for a presentation introduction or speaking event. Thirty minutes should be used when you are telling a story and framing your example to help people create a picture of you in their mind.

If you had three seconds to tell someone what you do, what would you say?

Here’s a three-second formula you can use today.

I help [your target audience] to [do something] that [saves time/increases money/reduces effort, etc.].

Example: I help CPAs to build muscle – marketing muscle – to increase their online search factor.

Here’s another example.

One of my branding students made jewelry for a living. I asked her what she did? She replied with, “I make custom jewelry.” Well, that’s boring. So I said, what do you love about it? She replied, “I get to work with fire.” A-ha! Now that was interesting. So her three-second pitch became “I make custom jewelry for celebrities using fire.”

Thirty seconds and beyond gives you more time to add a more colorful and complete story; and a story it should be. It also allows you time to include important things like your value proposition and call to action.

It’s crucial to be able to pitch no matter where you are or how much time you have. You may not get immediate business from it, but it might lead toward a conversation about what you do or whom you do it for, which could lead to business.


  • Use creative language that is simple and clear to understand.
  • Apply something clever or unique about what you do. Download a good adjective cheat sheet and transport unique terms into your pitch. You’ll know when you find the right one. It will fit like a glove.
  • Start small and work toward a larger introduction. Once you have the foundation, the longer pitch gets easier.
  • Take the mundane and add a human element.
  • Practice it while looking in the mirror.
  • Write it down to help you remember it, until it becomes a mantra.
  • Use it. Put it in your email signature, on your business cards, and on everything you do.
  • Have a call to action and/or hook to draw them in.


  • Be the same as all the others. Put a unique spin on your title, description, or key phrases.
  • Run on and on and on…
  • Steal someone else’s
  • Be boring
  • Toss it out there and hope it sticks. Practice it. If it doesn’t feel right, change it.
  • Waste the opportunity

Now that you have the basics, go out there and create your 3-30.

What are some of the most clever elevator pitches you’ve ever heard?

Additional Resources