Keep a Pitch in your Pocket

jacketpocketWhatever you are working on, being able to quickly, clearly, and effectively communicate it to a potential customer or approval executive can dramatically improve your chances of success.Some people are gifted with a golden tongue, the ability to on the spot pitch an idea in a way that just sounds awesome. But most of us have to work at it. And it’s likely that those people that seem so gifted put in their time perfecting their abilities. While it seems effortless now, none of us saw the years of effort that went into getting there.

So how do you perfect a pitch? Well a good pitch has a couple qualities:

  • it’s short
  • it appeals to a broad audience
  • it is defensible
  • it teaches the listener how to appreciate the value of the product’s benefit

Here’s the construct one of my mentors taught me. You need to write 5 sentences:

  1. A simple statement we can all agree on
  2. An interesting observation about that statement
  3. A problem that follows the interesting statement
  4. The solution to the problem, embodied by your product
  5. A wow implication of the product

This construct can bring someone who has no idea what you are talking about from their frame of reference to you your exciting benefit punch line in under 30 seconds. But we’re not done yet, what about defensibility? In order to make this pitch rock solid, you have to be ready for any piercing questions that a smart customer or executive will ask to call BS on your pitch. To solidify your position, dig up 2 data points that support each statement. So the construct becomes this:

  1. A simple statement we can all agree on
    1. data point 1
    2. data point 2
  2. An interesting observation about that statement
    1. data point 1
    2. data point 2

What you will find is having this construct in your head will make it easy to remember the supporting data points. To the pitch’s target, having these data points roll off your tongue when they try to poke holes in your pitch will cause two things:

  1. they will believe you more since you did some research
  2. they will think you are smart

Let’s try this out with a consumer product, like the Pebble:

  1. Smartphones are quickly becoming a commodity product for US consumers
  2. These phones are not just about communication, now they are becoming the user interface to many other products and services
  3. But it’s not always convenient to pull out or use your phone
  4. We’re designing a watch, called the Pebble, that provides a simple user interface to smart phone apps and services, and is convenient to use when the phone is inconvenient to access. 
  5. Along with the physical product, we think there’s an opportunity to create a vibrant app market for the Pebble that creates barriers to entry for competitors and develops an additional revenue stream.

This is a quick draft to illustrate the construct.  The next step is to find 2 data points to support each section.  For #4, your data points could be some “how” topics, like connecting via bluetooth, super clear display, and so forth.  For #5, I’d look up stats on the iPhone app phenomena, and how analysts interpreted it’s impact on iPhone sales. Also, once you get the sentences and data points set, take a couple iterations tightening it all up, and then practice the pitch 5-10 times.

Hopefully this construct is useful!  Try it out on your current product, and let me know what you think!

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