Is Your “Elevator Pitch” Letting You Down?

Is your elevator pitch letting you down?


There are no less than four different versions of the story behind who created the “Elevator Pitch.” 


-The earliest version says that Elisha Otis (of Otis Elevator fame) created a public demonstration of his elevator brake in 1854. He said a few words. Walked off stage. The crowd roared with applause.


-Others credit screenwriters in the Golden Age of Hollywood for developing a movie pitch that they could sell to the head of a studio in a short elevator ride. “So we’re gonna make a movie about this big ape who kidnaps a beautiful actress and then climbs up the Empire State Building and that’s where the real trouble starts.”


-Another version credits former Vanity Fair Senior Editor Michael Caruso with the term. He apparently pitched story ideas to the Editor-In-Chief on her way into the office. This happened in the early 1990s, but I swear I’d heard the term “Elevator Pitch” before then.


-And lastly, Phillip Crosby wrote about pitching a “big idea” to his boss, the Chief Executive Officer of ITT Inc., in an elevator ride at their HQ in the 1970s.


Regardless of who gets the credit, the idea of an “Elevator Pitch” is widely known among sales and marketing types. Everyone I meet at a networking event has an elevator pitch. Most are too long. Some are too short. Very, very few of them are actually good.


At Madison+Main one of the important things we first work on with clients is brand messaging, and it starts with a very fundamental step; creating an Identity Statement (ID) — a short form and a long form. A “short form” ID statement simply says who you are and what you do in one sentence. A long form Identity Statement can be two to three sentences, but you also state why your company’s product or service benefits a particular audience. So it essentially acts as an “Elevator Pitch.” In addition to stating who you are, and what you do, you add context to turn it into an effective, memorable statement. 


Short Form Example – XYZ company manufactures and distributes widgets for the transportation industry.


Long Form Example – XYZ company manufactures and distributes widgets for the transportation industry. By focussing on demand-side technology, we shorten the shipping time for sellers, which makes customers happy — and our clients more profitable. I ship you not.


So if you’ve got an “Elevator Pitch,” take a good look at it. Does it answer these questions?

  • Does it say who we are and what we do in one sentence?
  • Does it demonstrate a value proposition for your client or customer?
  • Is it memorable? 

If you do this, your elevator pitch won’t let you down and may take your company to a higher level.

Monday, June 7 — We’re Back Back


Concerts are back! Hermitage Richmond, a Pinnacle Living community, recently announced a new outdoor concert series called, ‘Concert Under the Stars’. The series will be hosted on the front lawn of the upscale senior living community in Richmond’s historic Ginter Park neighborhood. There will be three live music events in the upcoming months that will be free and open to all. If anyone has a lawn chair I can borrow, let me know.

Concert Under the Stars -- Hermitage Richmond

Tuesday, June 8 — Saturday Stroll for Colons

Hitting Cancer Below The Belt (HCB2) is hosting their annual Boxer Brief 5K at City Stadium this Saturday! Join the Madison+Main-iacs this weekend as we raise awareness about colorectal cancer — our nation’s second-deadliest cancer. Join hundreds of HCB2 supporters, many in their underwear, as we run to save buns!

Wednesday, June 9 — Question Wednesday!

Account Executive Marita Cardenas came up with a doozy for the Team Question on Wednesday, causing us all to feel a little nostalgic. The question was, “If you could go back in time and tell your younger self three words, what would they be?” The team had some good ones.
Communications Director Kent Brockwell offered “Drugs Are Expensive.” My advice was “Listen Before Speaking.” What are the three words you’d offer to a younger you?

Thursday, June 10 — Hall of Fame

Last month, Dr. Michael Hanley, long-time board member of the Lucy Corr Foundation, was inducted into Chesterfield County’s Senior Volunteer Hall of Fame! The 39th annual event recognizes and celebrates local seniors who have given outstanding services to their community. Dr. Hanley was honored for his work as a volunteer dentist for the Lucy Corr Dental Clinic. Thank you Dr. Hanley for helping our seniors smile! 

Our client A. Smith Bowman Distillery is having another coveted lottery! This time, it’s their Limited Edition 10-year Cask Strength Virginia Straight Bourbon Whiskey! Enter by June 17, 2021 for your chance to purchase a bottle from Virginia’s most award-winning distillery. Winners will be randomly selected and announced by June 24, 2021! 


A Smith. Bowman Online Lottery

Friday, June 11 —”…Happy Birthday Dear Marita…”

Today, we celebrated our amazing Account Executive Marita Cardenas on her 29th b-day. Marita has a positive attitude, is dedicated to her clients, and impresses her teammates by sending hilarious, yet oftentimes NSFW, memes. Marita, I hope you spend your day off at The Jasper and playing fetch with your puppy. I heard there was a party, but my invite got lost in the mail, I guess.
Remember folks, you need to get out of your cave this weekend. It’s been a month since the president said you can take off your mask if you’re been vaccinated — and there are many great events happening in the RVA region this weekend. This morning, I was on Richmond’s Morning News with John Reid and we talked all about great upcoming events. Listen to the interview here! John and I agreed we are going to co-host a mask-burning party soon. Details to follow.


Happy Birthday Marita Cardenas!

A Few of Our Favorite Events

Saturday, June 12, 2021 | City Stadium
The Boxer Brief 5K Run/Walk raises the level of awareness of colorectal cancer while offering education in an effort to stop our country’s second cancer killer in men and women. Registration is open.
June 26th, 2021 | 6:30 P.M. – 9:30 P.M. | Goochland Drive-In
The Virginia-West Virginia MS Society will host their first-ever celebration “Honoring Our Heroes” at the Goochland Drive-In. The program will include meaningful recognition of sponsors and their employees who have gone “above and beyond” during the pandemic to help our community.
Summer | 7 P.M. | Historic Ginter Park
Join Hermitage Richmond for a Concert Under the Stars on our Front Lawn for an evening of live music. Bring your picnic dinner and chairs/blankets. Social distancing and masks required.
June 14, 2021 | 8 A.M. | Greenbrier Country Club
We are thrilled to be celebrating Chesapeake Economic Development’s 21st anniversary this year and hope that you can be a part of their special event. This year’s proceeds will be donated to a local charity. Learn more!
Friday, June 18, 2021 | 5:30 P.M. | Perkinson Center for Arts & Education
Join us at the Perkinson Center for the Arts & Education for a fun-filled evening! During the COVID-19 quarantine, many of us explored various ways to keep ourselves busy — including channeling our creative spirit. Come out and admire the art that was created by 70+ artists right here in our community during the pandemic. Learn more!

We promise we’ll look presentable.


“The purpose of an elevator pitch is to describe a situation or solution so compelling that the person you’re with wants to hear more even after the elevator ride is over.”
— Seth Godin