Hopefully my questions have helped you understand that this one-sentence elevator pitch is a limiting idea that’s been imposed as a law – by people who have a limited view of their own industry. It’s as though the people teaching this assume that everyone is like them: so highly specialised in one simple thing, that it can be summarised in one sentence. It completely diminishes true expertise and replaces it with the “authority” that this industry thrives on selling — but while one form of expertise relies on actual knowledge and experience, a large percentage of the people selling services online are looking for gold at the end of the rainbow, a quick fix to their problems, and a shortcut escape from putting in the actual work.
So many people tell you to write a book to create a sense of authority. As a result, there are now hundreds of glorified blog posts being released on Amazon on a daily basis. And about 50 percent of them read like sales pages — and not the kind of sales page that’s any different from the kid who’s screaming at everyone how good he is at something. Now, while I think that there’s room in the service industry for everyone — new and experienced — I also think that the one-sentence elevator pitch is a symptom of an industry that’s telling everyone to build authority through techniques instead of experience.
I don’t believe that anyone with a long-lasting high-quality career could ever limit what they do in just one sentence, leave alone a sentence that spells it out to a 5 year old. Sure, simplifying it into a sentence is great in theory — especially to help you clarify within your own mind how you’re providing value to your audience. But it doesn’t make sense in a grey-area society with human beings who are complex. And it sure as hell doesn’t make sense to diminish your expertise just to suit some branding expert who learned their info from the school of GetRichQuick. Of course they’d tell you to make it snappy — that’s all they know. Quick results, quick phases, quick money. But how long does that last?
I genuinely believe that this phenomenon of the one-sentence elevator pitch is like the symbolic representation of an industry that is all about swiftly making money without thinking about the future. I’ve never met a “confidence coach for busy moms” who struck me as more of a reliable expert on confidence (who I’d work with for years) than, say, someone who worked with different people for years and now has a bio of more than one page. It’s got a temporary and slightly unreliable feeling to it. Like someone grasped at straws and picked one to stay with. I’m sure many people with one-sentence bios are legit, but… many also aren’t.
I once read a book by Susan Anderson called Taming the Outer Child — a book I believe every adult should read — and after reading half of it, I found myself looking back at the industry I was in with shame. Here was a real expert of abandonment issues, a psychotherapist who combines all sorts of disciplines and past experience to help people, writing a book from the heart with examples of past clients — without subtly advertising herself on every page. Without speaking about how she “only helps moms who struggle with their weight”, or “men in their 20s who run a creative online business”. Sure, she specialises in abandonment issues — but she doesn’t explain this in one sentence, or box her audience into one tiny little insulting category. After all, by summarising your craft like this — you’re not only diminishing the value of your work, but your audience too.
So, the next time you find yourself wanting to express what you do, and you try to summarise it — ask yourself if that approach is aligned with the work, time, effort, and expertise you have to offer. And if it’s not, go on express the intricate details of what you offer: your true and loyal audience will thank you for it. Stop limiting yourself just because a limited industry told you to.
A photographer who helps people love themselves, as well as a singer-songwriter who helps people connect with their feelings — but also happens to help people get out of their own way so they can reach the next level of success — but also used to combine photography with brand identity coaching to help creatives reach their audience — but then realised that the online marketing industry was sucking her soul dry. *inhales, then vomits*
Did you like my 5-year old sentence? Or shall we just have, you know… a human conversation? 😉 Note: I am a writer. That was a joke.