Elevator Pitches (Riverhead Hardcover, 2012)










Dan Pink – To Sell is Human

Alternate ways of pitching or delivering.

I love the works of Dan Pink. He has written several books that really connect with the whole personal branding movement and has produced numerous articles and videos that relate too.

One such book is “To Sell is Human”. One chapter in the book covers the alternative ways to ‘pitch’ someone, more modern ways of addressing the elevator pitch. Here is Dan explaining each one and then below is the copy taken from the book.


1.       The One Word Pitch

Attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. It used to be okay to post videos of over 5 minutes, now the recommended is less than 90 seconds.

The argument with a one word pitch is that people are traveling at higher speeds and a one word pitch really demands discipline and forces clarity. Think internet search and you immediately recall Google, or if we said priceless and credit cards you would immediately think of Mastercard or even both of Obama;s election campaigns were one word, in 2008 Hope in 2012 Forward.

What is the one word that captures who you are or your organization is?

Write a 50 word pitch. Reduce it to twenty five words. Then to six words. One of those remaining words is likely your one word.

2.       The Question Pitch

Instead of making a statement consider instead asking a question. In studies it has even been found  that questions can outperform statements in persuading others. Think about the time someone asks you a question, you feel compelled to respond.

In the 1980’s Ronald Reagan used this to great effect asking voters if they were better off than 4 years ago. The answer was a resounding no.  The question however needs to have a strong likelihood of being answered positively in your favour, Mitt Romney tried that same tactic in 2012 and it did not work because many people actually thought yes they were.

If you were to ask a question of your target audience, what would it be?

Your argument needs to be strong to use a question. If it is weak, make a statement, or you need a new argument.

3.       The Rhyming Pitch

One of the most famous pitches using rhyming was the lawyer Johnny Cochrane representing OJ Simpson, talking about the gloves “If it doesn’t fit…you must acquit”

Researchers have found that given similar statements participants favoured the rhyming ones, even though each pair says the same. Our minds equate easy flow with accuracy.

If you think you have time, can you pitch in a rhyme?

Don’t rack your brain for rhymes. Use an online rhyming dictionary like www.rhymezone.com

4.       The Subject-Line Pitch

Think how many e-mails you receive in a day or week. Many. If you are scanning that list of e-mails you are making decisions about which ones to open first many times by the subject line. In research if the e-mail is useful to you then you are motivated to open it because you have something to gain or lose.  For other e-mails of low priority the subject lines that offered curiosity were more likely to be opened sooner.

One strong recommendation is to be very specific in a subject line pitch. E.g “Improve your golf swing” is not as specific as “4 tips to improve your golf swing this afternoon”

Can you pitch what you have to offer that satisfies utility, specificity and curiosity?

Review the subject lines of the last 20 emails you have sent. Note how many appeal to utility or curiosity. If the total is less than 10 rewrite each one that fails the test.

5.       The Twitter Pitch

With just 140 characters Twitter forces you to be to the point and succinct with any message. Some organizations have used this format to receive pitches for business, job search even placement applications for college.  The key with a good ‘tweet’ is that it also encourages a continued conversation or at least a response.

With just 140 characters you have little space to get your message across. How easy is it for you to do that and continue the conversation.

Try to limit your twitter pitches to 120 characters so that others can re-tweet and pass it on. Best pitches are short, sweet and easy to retweet.

6.       The  Pixar Pitch

Story telling is quite possibly the oldest form of pitching and as humans we love to hear and connect with an engaging story. Pixar, the cartoon feature film maker, has perfected the art of the story with successive blockbusters and their success has in part been put down to following a story formula.

Read all 22 of former Pixar story artist Emma Cost’s story rules 

Once upon a time………………………….Every day…………………….One day……………………….Because of that…………………………….Because of that…………………………………Until finally.

Whichever pitch you work on make sure that after someone hears it;  What do you want them to know, feel and do?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.