How To Put Together Your Pitch (Watch this video first)
Does your business suffer from the Curse of Knowledge?
We are all prone to this problem. Lee Lefevre talked about this curse in his book "The Art of Explanation" Lefevre calls "The Curse of Knowledge." a condition that is hurting those of us who are good at what they do. It means that when you think and talk at the highest levels of your industry, you likely have a hard time communicating what you do to others in a simple way.
Why We Struggle
All-day long, we are thinking at a level nine or ten trying to help our customers with their complex issues. But when we try to dumb it down to one simple line, we get stuck. The problem is that we are pitching our business all the time. These are the precious opportunities to get people excited about what you do. This has been called many things over the years but for today we are calling it your pitch.
What is a pitch?
Last session we said that your pitch is not a one-liner. If a one-liner is not a pitch then a pitch is not a one-liner either. A pitch comes from a framework I’ll show you where you agitate a problem, highlight the solution and then promise an outcome. It’s a quick and simple way to talk about what you do without boring people.
A Brief History of Pitches
Let’s look at a Brief History of pitches in the history of business. In the beginning, one guy did everything. He didn’t have to pitch because he wore every hat. When Adam wanted bread, he had to plant, water, harvest, thresh, mix, knead, bake and then eat. That’s all there was.
As civilization developed, you had one person for each job. You went to the blacksmith for your metalwork, the cobbler for shoes, the baker for bread, and the sanitation director for the black plague. When you had a need, you had a guy you went to. Then there started to be competitors and a diverse array of jobs out there so you had to be more creative and specific...but you couldn’t be too long.
Because before people just checked their phones or stared at the numbers quietly in an elevator, theres an old myth that people used to talk about what they did for a living in elevators. You had from the lobby to the 18th floor to describe what you did to a stranger. It had to be clear and brief but interesting enough to differentiate you from the others who also did something similar.
Then we stopped talking on long elevator rides. But we still had to describe what we did.
Let’s talk about a few places we use pitches today: We use them at Networking events, when we have to introduce ourselves publicly, in webinars, on your Linkedin profile...even when introducing yourself in a Facebook group.
You need something like this because jobs got complicated so you had to describe what you do. Competition got tougher so you had to differentiate and stand out. Attention spans got shorter so you had to be succinct.
What Is The Goal Of A Pitch?
This is the goal: Raised eyebrows. We are all so polite these days that we tell everyone their idea is exciting and we pretend to understand. This is especially true in Canada. I’ve learned not to believe what anyone says anymore and just read the eyebrows. If someone says, “That’s exciting. How very interesting to hear that” with eyebrows up, you’ve got them. If they say, “That’s exciting. How very interesting to hear that" but their eyebrows are down, they’re lying and you’ve confused them.
So how to you talk about what you do so that eyebrows go up? I’m going to show you how to put together a great pitch.
Step One: Determine Your Ideal customer
Remember when we talked about defining your Who? This is where that work is going to pay off. Who is your ideal customer? Who do you help? Answer this question:
1. My favourite people to work with is ____________________
Step Two: Define The Problem You Solve
You have to get good at talking about the problem that is bothering your ideal customer. Talking about the problem you solve is what makes you interesting.
Ever watched a show you didn't like but had to watch to the end? I’ll walk into the living and my kids are watching Paw Patrol. I glance at the screen and I see that the mayor’s pet chicken is caught in a tree. I have to stick around for another 20 minutes to see if the pups can save the chicken in the tree. It's because I got caught up in a story that was working toward the resolution to a problem. I didn't know or care about it before I started watching - but now I’m hooked by the problem. It’s also why we binge watch shows. We need to watch just one more to find out how a problem is resolved. We are hooked.
That's what a problem does. It hooks people. Once the problem is solved, the attention goes elsewhere. You need to be clear on the problem you solve and how it is affecting your Who.
We’ve all adapted to the thousands of messages and pitches hitting us all day. We tune out everything that doesn't help us solve their problems.
Building A StoryBrand does such a great job of making sure you distinguish between these two types of problems. You’ll already have your answers in your Brand Messaging Guide.
We've already identified your ideal customer. Now I need to know:
2. What is the problem you solve for your ideal customer?
Here you want to put something that’s broken in their life. It should be something they can touch, taste, smell, or hear. Write down what's affecting your customer. Maybe it is financial, relational, something in their business. It could be anything they are struggling with that you know you’re going to help them with.
3. What is the emotion connected to the problem?
How is the physical issue affecting their emotions? It may be causing them stress, frustration, or anxiety. That's gold. Those are the real problems that lead people to a breaking point when they decide they have to take action.
Psychologists tell us that people make decisions on an emotional level. If you've ever bought a coffee for over five dollars, it was not a logical decision. When you talk about the emotional reaction people have to the broken world around them, they often say, "Wow. This person gets me."
Step Three: Clarify Your Process
Now it's time to build a bridge between where people are and where they want to go. We know they are frustrated, anxious, or stressed about their problem. How are you going to show up and get them out of it? How do you get them out of pain and into the life they want to live? How do you solve the problem you addressed above? We need something simple here.
How about something like:
- "We are a marketing agency that helps people use the best online tools to reach more people."
- “I help people make excellent financial decisions to help them grow their wealth.”
- "We are a multi-disciplinary clinic, offering a team of professionals who are working together to serve our patients."
All you're looking for is a simple sentence about what you do. Keep the syllable and word count down. Answer this question:
4. What do you do to help your customers?
Step Four: Talk About The Results You Provide
So far, you've identified your ideal customer, talked about the problem they're struggling with, and briefly explained your process about how you help. Now it's time to sell the big ending.
Here's the humbling truth: Your customers are coming to you for one reason: they want results, not your services. They want the benefits, not the features. You might be a great person, have all kinds of rewards, and have a ton of stuff to talk about. You might have a great staff with a beautiful office. That's not why people come to you.
All we, the public, care about is to make our lives better. We have these problems mentioned above, and we're looking for someone to put us out of our misery. We need some hope that our problems won't get the last word in our story.
That's why we've come to see you. When I have my marketing consultant hat on, I instruct my clients to get good at talking about what a successful outcome looks like for your customers. Clarity is easily accomplished by starting a sentence with the words, "Imagine how great it would feel if…". What follows are the words you choose to tell them what their lives will be like when they are not struggling with their problems anymore.
To get to those words, answer these two questions:
5. What is the outcome you deliver?
Talking about the outcome is about landing on the result, which follows your process. You treat them "so that"...what happens?
When you do what you do, this is what they get. Write down what you do for customers: You help them feel better. You free them from pain. You get them back to work again. You get them playing their favourite sport again.
6. What happens to them as a result?
Now we have arrived at the grand finale. What is the transformation you are facilitating in people? They come to you frustrated, but they leave with hope? They show up at your door in pain, and they go with the freedom to do the things they love again.
You now have all the ingredients to put together an excellent description of what you do. Let's put it all together.
Step Five: Put It Together
Here’s the outline you can now follow to bring all your answers together. It’s time to fill in the blanks.
Too many ____________________ (this is where you put your answer to #1 your ideal client) are __________________(the answer to #3 - it’s the emotional problem) because of ___________________ (#2 - the big picture problem that has caused them all this emotion)
We have a __________________ (put your answer to #4 - that’s your process) that _____________________ (here’s the spot for #5 - it’s the outcome you promise) so that______________(finish with #6 - it’s the final result they can expect)
The Informal Pitch
There’s one other way to do this that I want to share with you. It’s called the “Informal pitch.” You use this in conversations with people at the grocery store, on an airplane, or anywhere you don’t want to jump into a monologue when someone asks what you do for a living. I’ve adapted this from Michael Port in his book, “Book Yourself Solid”.
“Have you ever noticed how ________________(answer from #1 about your ideal client) feel _______________________ (#3 the emotional triggered by the problem) because of ___________(the problem you addressed in #2)?”
Then they respond “Yes I have that problem” or “I have a friend who has that experience…”
Then you continue when it’s appropriate, “For the past years, we’ve developed a (Answer #4, your process) that creates ________ (Answer #5, the outcome you provide). I’ve found that when they do this, ___________________ (Answer #6, the client aspiration).
Then you offer your call to action. This is how you talk about what you do clearly in a way that doesn’t come across as salesy, cheesy or pushy.
That’s how you put together a formal and an informal pitch. Make sure you write yours down, bring it before some people you trust and get their feedback. Practice it. Tweak it as you go but make sure you never leave without it.
You’re going to get asked what you do some time shorty. You need to be ready for the precious opportunity to win someone over with the exciting work you do, the problem you solve and the outcome you deliver.