top of page

"What do you do?" The Perfect Elevator Pitch

The 30 seconds that follows the “what do you do?” question is one of the most commonly wasted marketing opportunities.

The retort is almost always self-focused, unclear and often nonsensical.

This is where many people reply with the most high sounding title they can get away with, as they feel the inquirer’s judgment of their worth will depend on the answer.

“I’m a waste management technician”, says the janitor.

While it’s true many shallow people judge a person’s worth by their job title or line of business, there’s a much better way to respond to this question. A way that doesn’t require you to raid a thesaurus in order to inflate or obfuscate what you really do.

As a business owner, being able to succinctly convey what problem you solve is a real art, especially if you are in a business that is complex.


An elevator pitch is a succinct, well-rehearsed summary of your business and it’s value proposition. It should be delivered in the time span of an elevator ride, so roughly 30-90 seconds.

The elevator pitch is a powerful opportunity to convey your marketing message on a regular basis and in many different settings.

So at networking events, on Zoom calls, in the about section of your LinkedIn profile.

“What do you do?” is the perfect queue to deliver your “elevator pitch”.

Obviously you don’t want to come across as a pushy, obnoxious salesperson, so it’s important to structure your elevator pitch properly.


The problem with most elevator pitches is the same problem as overinflated job titles. It leaves the recipient confused or thinking “what a douchebag”, rather than the intended effect of impressing them.

I once asked a lady what she did for a living to which she replied, “I’m a senior event builder”. None the wiser about what she did, I continued probing until I finally came to understand that she arranges seating for concerts and large events in stadiums. Bad marketing is highly product and self-focused.

Good marketing, especially direct response marketing is always customer and problem/solution focused.

And that’s exactly how we want our elevator pitch to be. We want to be remembered for what problem we solve rather than for some impressive but incomprehensible title or business.


While this is an oversimplification, good marketing takes the structure of:

  1. Problem

  2. Solution

  3. Proof

Your elevator pitch should be no different.

So how do you effectively communicate these three components in the space of 30 or so seconds?


The best formula I’ve found to date is:

You know [problem]? Well what we do is [solution]. In fact [proof].

Here’s a couple of examples:

Insurance Sales: “You know how most people rarely review their insurance coverage when their circumstances change? Well, what I do is help people have peace of mind by ensuring their insurance cover always matches their current circumstances. In fact just last week a client of mine was robbed, but he was able to recover the full cost of the items he’d lost because his insurance coverage was up to date.

Electrical Engineering: “You know when there are power outages that bring down critical systems in large businesses? Well, what I do is install backup power systems for companies that rely on having a continual supply of power for their operations. In fact, I installed the system at XYZ Bank which has resulted in them having 100% uptime since the system was installed.

Website Development: “You know how most company websites are out of date? Well, what I do is install software that makes it easy for people to update their own websites, without the need to pay a web designer each time. In fact, I installed the software for one of my clients recently and they saved $2000 a year in web development costs. This gives you a reliable formula to craft your elevator pitch while being customer/problem focused rather you/product focused.


bottom of page