The art of pitching

I had a catch up with a well known pitch doctor yesterday. He reminded me of some of the most important factors, and regular mistakes we make while pitching.

Biggest mistake: Wasting time talking about ourselves. They already know enough about us, or they wouldn’t be in the room. The right amount of time to allocate talking about ourselves is close to zero.

Biggest Opportunity: Leave some questions unanswered. (counter intuitive I know) This creates the opportunity for real conversation. When we converse, we see how each party thinks. It also enables us to determine if we have the right chemistry to work together.


What's your media philosophy?

It’s easy to believe that owned and earned media (aka social media) is superior to the older paid media. We’ve been trained over the past 15 years of the GUI web to think this way. Anyone who regularly reads this blog knows my thoughts on traditional media, in that it is dying, or at the very least changing.

So what is the right media? The media that achieves the objective, within the budget constraints, and lastly fits the risk profile of the media investor.

Sure, it may be cheaper to vlog, blog and tweet ourselves to functional levels of brand awareness – especially in startup land. But it may be a smarter option to invest 1 million dollars advertising on TV if it results in 3 million dollars in revenue. I say this because I think entrepreneurs are being blinded by the zero cost nature of digital media. What we are better off embracing is an objective driven, performance based approach. This is especially true now that the lines between old and new media are blurring.

The best advice I can give is this:  ‘don’t discriminate’ – don’t even think of digital as a channel. Instead think of making connections with audiences. Sometimes this may involve traditional media, sometimes exclusively digital, and sometimes only one or the other. Instead, think in terms of ‘Human Movement’. That is, what they do, where they are and how the communicate with them. Essentially we need to integrate our thinking into how ‘they’ (the people we want to have a conversation with) move. The important caveat is that we need need to be nimble enough to develop an understanding of new media channels as they emerge.


Risk Taking

As an entrepreneur I’m not afraid of ‘considered’ financial risk. Just like any Plumber or Electrician would guarantee their workmanship, we must provide a satisfaction guarantee. It’s a great way to reduce purchase barriers. Something most successful brands do…. here’s a little exercise for you: Next time you a buy a household cleaning product or chocolate bar, flip it over and read the fine print and *bang* you’ll see a money back satisfaction guarantee. We must provide that too.

I’ve also done this on my latest little project Startup School. Here’s a recent conversation I had with my wife over email:

ME: Hey check out my Startup School receipt – pretty cool huh? (below is a part screen grab of said receipt)

Picture 69

Wife: As a law graduate of course, I would nervous about making guarantees but up to you… Like the poetry!

Me: One must embrace risk in entrepreneurial fields and guarantee work, or revenue wont happen. it’s that simple. It’s a risk I’m prepared to take.

Wife: I know….that’s why YOU’RE the entrepreneur!