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Pitch & Grow Rich:
Tim T Dingle BSc (Hons) PGCE MBA
Chief Development Officer AVPT Global
Pitching comes with a health warning. It can make you seriously rich, but you need to make a transformation to the digital platform for pitching.
You may be surprised that we need to step back a bit and re-visit the ‘old school’ values of the successful elevator pitch. Ironically these skills are so poorly perfected by the majority of companies and business owners that you could make your fortune by getting them right. You will need to understand something of the neuroscience behind pitching, simple psychology and some basic, good old fashioned common sense. The premise for the perfect pitch should then become your essential mantra; the natural, automatic response when someone asks you what you or your company does. In our digital world, you will need to know the real secrets of pitching before entering your Twitpitch and Youtube contributions.
Regardless of what you call it, the perfect pitch, an elevator pitch, the elevator speech, your lift story or your perfect 60 seconds, it is one tool every entrepreneur, salesperson, business owner and job seeker must possess is an overview of their solution. With one, they will be able to catch the often fleeting attention of the people who can help them bring their solution to life. The simple truth is without one, they just won’t.
Back in the room, sixty seconds isn’t much time to pitch a client, a group or investor. The elevator pitch is a great exercise to develop a very short message which says what you do to potential clients, investors, media or partners. Your pitch should leave your target audience hungry for more. You should understand that you must create clarity and buckets of curiosity. This is a vital online as it is in person.
One of the most enjoyable events of last year was being part of the Scholarship Den, run by the Academy of Vocational and Professional Training. It involved an ‘elevator pitch’ competition, where hopeful young (and not so young)entrepreneurs extol the virtues of their business idea with the best getting free training and mentor packages. These sort of events are both joyous and yet frustrating. There is nothing more joyous than listening to entrepreneurs explaining how they are going to change the world. What is more than frustrating is that few people have worked out how to pitch their ideas in a simple, concise and powerful form.
To the best of my knowledge, the standard lift (or elevator) really does not get stuck for several hours. I haven’t tried the lift in the Shard yet. Therefore you have to keep your pitch short and punchy. The worst sinners seem to be start-up businesses, consultants and technologists who feel that they have to cram as many features as possible into their three minutes presentation. The human brain cannot cope with this assault of facts, features and benefits. Most customers have in fact very short attention spans and can only remember three things at a time (see my articles about George Miller and Chunking, 5 plus or minus one). As soon as you mention the fifth star item the first and probably most important one drops out of their short term memory; boom, gone for good. By the time they get to number fifty, all the most compelling ones have long since gone, and the prospective customer has truly lost the will to live. The objective in delivering an elevator pitch or 60 seconds is not to secure an order there and then. That is simply not going to happen. Try to stimulate enough interest for them to give you another fifteen minutes and to hand over their business card.
The great elevator pitch is very simple to understand having the key 6 Ps of passion, pain, premise, people, proof and purpose. It uses the inner workings of the brain (at the reptilian level) and your ability to deliver these 6 answers:
Passion: You will remember being in a classroom and knowing instantly that the teacher (or supply teacher) really was not passionate about the subject they are trying (unsuccessfully) to teach? That feeling is detected in a flash: their lack of passion. If when you pitch you don’t have a certain sparkle in your eye, a passionate purpose or that palpable X factor, you will have the same effect on your audience as that hapless teacher. If you are not passionate about your company, close it now.
Pain: Can you answer this simple, crucial question ‘where’s the pain?’. Decide right now what pain or real problem you plan to solve with your business or service. The key is that the bigger the pain, the more likely people are to pay you to take it away. It seems very negative but is at the heart of everyone’s primitive brain thinking. The movement away from pain is unbelievably powerful. The pain presents itself in many forms and multiple guises. A simple rule to remember is that if your product or service saves time and money then you are on your way.
Premise: “So Tim, what do you actually ‘do’?” You need to be able to explain in pretty simple terms the ‘premise of your business’. Does that seem too obvious? Well for this to work you have to use language that is basic, literal and not some clever beefed up, steroidal slogan that is meaningless. When asked what I actually do then I make it a simple statement: We delivery outstanding online and workshop training for soft skills, using blended mobile learning and virtual tutors.
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People: Here is the thing: every customer says they buy from people not companies. Every investor I have ever met has confirmed that they look for a credible team rather than a good idea. Get the best people you can around you and get yourself a Mentor as soon as you can. It really changes everything.
Proof: So Why should I buy from you, not your competitor?; great question. Maybe you have a killer product or service and the greatest team money can buy, customers can still be skeptical and have doubts, reservations and remain unconvinced. Evidence suggests that testimonials and the tales of your happy customers and clients can make a huge difference. Have a look at those on my Linkedin and see the difference between ‘endorsed for’ (laughable in some cases, as I have never met them) and someone taking the time and trouble to write a glowing, current and accurate testimonial. Thank you to those that have!
Purpose: One of the oldest jokes I have heard is ‘What did the dolphin say to the whale when he bumped into him? I didn’t do it on porpoise’. Sorry. So the most important purpose of any business is to make money. I know crazy, eh? The thing is that the potential investors will be looking for a great ROI in any deal (return on their investment) and your prospective customers and clients will want to know that you run a sensible and profitable business. Why so? Well they need to know you have built a reliable and consistent delivery model for your products and services.
I believe even in the fast moving digital age, the premise is the most important part of an elevator pitch and the best pitches with the most traction also give some idea of the market. Consider these three:
– John Rockefeller at Standard Oil: ‘Let the poor man have his cheap light’
– Merill Lynch: ‘Bring Wall St to Main St’
-AOL’s Steve Case: ‘Make the internet easy and fun’
Even as I write this, the standard elevator pitch however is under-going a face lift with new media. The truth is that getting clients or investors’ attention may never be the same again with You Tube pitches and the short punchy Twitter pitches. As new social media has exploded in recent years and slowly businesses are becoming more social media aware, the number of channels and methods to pitch has dramatically increased. The new digital elevator pitch allows you to reach a broader audience and receive critical feedback to really improve your pitch and business. So, if you find getting access to potential clients to pitch challenging, try the new dimension in digital opportunity.
The Tube Pitch: YouTube is quite simply MASSIVE. Consider these stats and prepare to change your pitch (still using the 6Ps) forever:
- Over 800 million unique users visit YouTube each month
- Over 4 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube
- 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute
- 70% of YouTube traffic comes from outside the US
- YouTube is localised in 53 countries and across 61 languages
- In 2011, YouTube had more than 1 trillion views or around 140 views for every person on Earth. Yes, 1 Trillion!
Using your newly acquired 6 P Pitch & Grow rich strategy you need access this market, right now. A search on YouTube for the term elevator pitch returned millions of results. Forget your boring 80-page business plan, ditch the figures and research and get that new pitch ready and evoke the passion behind your idea or business for the new digital market.
The Twitter Pitch (Twitpitch): If you have just returned from a 5 year space mission, Twitter is micro-blogging allowing text messages of 140 characters or less (see also @timlondonset and #expresscourses). So here comes the new idea: the Twitpitch, and yes, it’s just what you think – the same pitch narrowed down to 140 characters or less. The Twitpitch is the invention of Stowe Boyd, a business strategy and information technology consultant. Boyd had plans to attend the upcoming Web 2.0 Expo, but was having trouble scheduling meetings with startups. To address this problem, on Tuesday he posted on his blog that in order to make things simple for himself, he was posting a schedule of times when he was available for meetings. He added that he would not accept email-based proposals for these meetings, only Twitpitches.
To further explain the concept, Boyd put forth a set of rules for the pitches as follows:
- All companies who would like to have a meeting with me, need to send me a Twittered description of the product. Yes, please Twitter it to me at http://www.twitter.com/stoweboyd. Yes, one tweet, 140 characters less the eleven used for “@stoweboyd “.
- Optionally, send a supporting twitpitch with one link, and no other text. Could be to anything: website, video, press release, Rick Astley, etc.
- Then, twitter me one or more suggested times/place to meet at the event, using the times on the calendar, and a location in the conference building I won’t have time to visit your nearby hotel or offices.
This new way of getting the perfect pitching, now being dubbed the ‘twitpitch’ is quick, painless, andcuts through all those wordy distracting elements I talked about earlier. It cuts through the endless pretentious PR stuff and dramatically forces companies to summarise what they do in 140 characters or less. Mighty good work that!
The Blog Pitch: One of the areas of rapid advance that can use the power of the 6P Perfect Pitch is in the channel of blogging. TechCrunch is one the popular blogs around and has created TechCrunch Elevator Pitches with the great strapline: One Startup. 60 seconds. Go. The blog describes its core service as a place where business founders and CEOs get a chance to pitch their startups directly to you, the TechCrunch audience. The instant (or certainly rapid) feedback is enhanced via a vote the best pitches up and the stinkers down, and tell them exactly what you think of their businesses in the comments.”
The Slide Pitch: There are yet more interesting styles of digital pitching developing that allow you to use your 6P skills to dramatic effect. The relatively SlideShare group (Google it please) is an online slide presentation community. Have a look at the Linkedin version of this which is rapidly gaining traction. Creating your perfect pitch, remembering the crucial 6P elements, in a brief slide presentation can reach a new audience or push them to your website for more details and edge them closer to a sale.
These new media ideas offer a massive opportunity to use your Perfect Pitch: Pitch & Grow Rich skills. It is a new opportunities for the average person or business to really stake their premise and their endorsement right out there for everyone to see. Yet at the heart of a any successful pitch, online or in person, is understanding the 6Ps and getting your story across in the most powerful manner. Pitching just got more interesting and the chance for you to pitch and grow rich has never been greater.
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