Thursday, 6 May 2010

The Perfect 30 Second Pitch


If networking is an important part of your marketing strategy, you will be used to the concept of the pitch, also known as the “elevator speech”. You are given anything between two minutes and thirty seconds to make a speech about your business. It’s not difficult to know a good one from a bad one, but somewhat harder to put your finger on what it is about a pitch that makes it good, bad or mediocre. Some people are clearly naturals at it and some are hopeless! The good news is that just because you’re not a natural doesn’t mean you are doomed to being hopeless. With study and practice, even the worst of us can make a decent pitch. There’s a simple set of do’s and don’t’s, and when you have understood them, the rest is simply a case of rehearsing enough to perfect it.

The most fundamental mistake you can make is to fail to understand the purpose of the pitch. It is NOT to close a sale! No one in their right mind, even if they’re in the market for your product, is going to buy from a stranger on the strength of what they said in 30 seconds. The purpose of the pitch is to be remembered for the right reasons. If what you said was memorable, you will linger in the mind of your audience. That’s what you want! When they think of a particular product, you want them to associate that product with you. When people who think of hypnotherapy, if they’ve met me, believe me, they’ll think of me! Even better, when they think of a good motivational speaker, they will also think of me, because they experience that first-hand for the duration of my pitch.

You don’t want to be bland, and so not be remembered at all, and you don’t want to be remembered for being rude, hopeless, weird, stupid, outrageous or funny, unless your product is comedy related, because then you will be linked to those qualities instead of your product. All you want is that when your product comes to people’s minds, so do you! When you fancy a burger, what company springs to mind? What about hot chicken, or a Pizza?

Spend the first second on a greeting! This has a very important psychological impact – it tells your audience that this is meant for them. It will take their attention from wherever it is to your voice. It must be said in a confident happy tone. “Hello” delivered positively is fine, but if you are particularly confident, experiment with other greetings like “good morning” or if particularly brave, “blessings upon you”! You are sending the message that your pitch will be different and interesting.

The first thing you want people to remember is your name. This is no easy feat. Whist some people are excellent at remembering names, the majority of us mere mortals are singularly useless. I am particularly bad – I suddenly find that the names of people I’ve known for years suddenly vanish from my recall just when I meet them again! Whilst this is a handicap, it’s also a useful tool. I give pitches in such a way that even I would remember the name of someone who did it the same way. If I can remember your name after one meeting, you’ve done very well indeed!

There are three very simple techniques to help lodge your name in the subconscious of other’s minds. Firstly, pause very slightly before giving your name. My name is…Gary Blonder! This pause is very subtle, only about one second. It causes people to pay attention. However double it to two seconds or longer then you generate the wrong impression. You start to generate embarrassment and irritation, so don’t overdo it!
Second, raise the pitch of your voice as you say your name, so it ends on a higher note. This subsconsciously raises the expectation of your audience. Thirdly, get your name into the pitch three times, in the beginning, the middle and the end. Remember this little proverb – THIRD TIME REMEMBERED!

A common and fundamental mistake is to state your profession and/or what you supply. This is to totally misunderstand the mindset of any potential referrer or buyer. Let us take the simple example of an accountant. Nobody WANTS an accountant! No one sits at home dreaming of the next time an accountant will drop by. If you therefore announce that you are an accountant, at that moment you’ve already failed. In every mind in the room, you have triggered the boredom switch. Everything you say from this point is worthless!

Your audience is interested in one thing alone. How are you going to make my life better? The fact that you are an accountant holds no promise of making my life better. However, I have better things to do with my life than sit in front of a desk with columns of figures. This is not what I’m in business for! Wouldn’t it be great if someone came along and did it all for me? Then I would be FREE! Is there such a person out there?

Understanding this simple psychology is crucial to your success. Don’t tell me what you do, tell me what I’ve got when you’ve gone. After I’ve gone, you’ll be free from that issue that’s been holding you back and making your life a misery for so long. When I’ve finished with your team, they’ll be fired up, feeling good and have a higher opinion of the one who brought me in. Sounds good, eh?

It’s a fundamental mistake to assume that your audience will figure all this out themselves just by your telling them what you do. They won’t! I could spend a fascinating half hour discussing why the brain doesn’t work like that, but bottom line is, it doesn’t! Accept it, and stop telling people what you do. Tell them what they’ll have when you’ve gone!

THE USP (Unique Selling Point)
Having made the point that you are the answer to a problem, or the fulfilment of a desire, take a few seconds to explain why only YOU can be trusted to make it happen. To do this, you need to throw in something about you that is advantageous, rare, and if possible unique. I for example am the only hypnotherapist in Bradford Chamber of Commerce.

Spend a few seconds inviting contact. This has an important psychological impact. It implies that failure to do so will involve missing out. Point out in this invitation that to contact you is free and noncommittal – they’d therefore be foolish not to!

A strapline is a single short phrase that should be the last thing you say. It can be thought of as a memory link between you and your product. For companies with big advertising budgets, the strapline is simple and often bland, but through continued repetition gets lodged in the mind. Examples include “I’m lovin’ it”, “Just do it” “loves the jobs you hate” and “Put a tiger in your tank”.

The average trader however, in the context of the pitch, does not have the luxury of such continued exposure, so needs to also make it witty. Mine for example is Liberating you…from you! My friend John Steel, a photographer, has the strapline I shoot your family…so you don’t have to!

You can see in both these examples that the strapline comprises of two phrases: the first is an interesting way of saying how you will be helped, and the second is the punchline. The first phrase stands alone as a sentence, and the second is added as a surprise, making you see the first differently. Choosing a good first phrase is easy, but the punchline is much harder to think of. Some people are highly talented in this field and can come up with a matching punchline in moments. Some have to mull over it for a day or two, then in a flash of inspiration, it will occur to them. Some are just clueless! If you are in the third category, don’t despair, because you almost certainly know someone who does. If you belong to a business or social network, simply “feed” your chosen first phrase and ask them to come up with a punchline. Those who are good at wordplay will not be able to resist the challenge!

Every pitch should have name, what I’ll get when you’ve done and a strapline at the. Between these elements, there are a variety of optional extras that are good to include if you have enough time. Which you decide to include depends on both time available and the specific markets you are interested in at that moment. Here is a selection of the best ones you may like to include:
There’s a well-known business proverb that if you ask for anybody, you’ll get nobody! If however your contacts know you are after a specific person, category or company, it focuses their minds. Most people want to help others if they can, but we need it framed for us (e.g. “give two pounds a month”). Add your specific request just before the strapline, adding “thank you for your help!”
If you have been in business for a while you will have at least one! For the purpose of the pitch, simply state the predicament your client was in before you came along and what they were like when you had finished.

Any offer targeted at your audience that gives them a privileged discount is always welcome.
Tell your audience how to get a free sample, preferably there and then, or otherwise within easy access.


Greetings! [confident, slightly quirky attention-grabbing intro]

My name is Gary Blonder! [rising pitch]

Wouldn’t it be great to be free from fear, anxiety and all your secret personal issues? I do this for people on a regular basis! I liberate people to be the person they want to be!
[I have focused people’s attention on their own desire and linked the solution to myself. For longer pitches, I would make this section twice as long, adding more problems that I’m the solution to. Note that I haven’t yet said what my profession is, as it is in itself irrelevant to the audience]

I am Gary Blonder, a motivational speaker and the only hypnotherapist member of Bradford Chamber [having pointed out I’m a possible solution, I now deliver my USP – the reason why I’m the best choice. There are other things I could have added, but these are unnecessary – one single good USP makes the optimum impact. Note the second mention of my name, strategically placed in the middle of the pitch.]

It costs nothing to talk to me, and it could be a fresh start for you, your team, or someone you know [The invitation. Notice the absence of a direct command, simply the implication that there is an offer foolish to resist on the table]

[For the 30-second pitch, time is nearly up, so it’s straight on to the strapline. For longer pitches, I can throw in my extras at this point]

I’m Gary Blonder, liberating you – from you!
[Strapline and third mention of my name. I have now achieved my objective – to be remembered as Gary Blonder the hypnotherapist who is also a damn good speaker. When my audience next encounter a need for my product, they will think of me!]

With your pitch constructed, don’t forget to keep it updated! Tweak the words periodically to keep pace with the changing circumstances, and also to stop it feeling “stale”.

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