Creating A Winning Pitch (continued)
This can mean a lot of different things as a creative. Here we’re talking about the infamous slide deck. Yes, these can be downright boring. But they can also have a good effect as a pitch tool as it’s something business people are familiar with. As a performer, you’re probably not going to show slides of your last performances. But if you’re an interior designer or a mural artist, showing some of your past work may be just the ticket you need to land that dream project. This is not to say that the presentation itself needs to be rigid and boring. You can use newer tools like Slidebean and Visme to add some pizzazz to your presentation. These tools allow you to jazz up your presentation with storytelling tools, embedded data, video streams and animations.
Prototype or Mockup
If you have an idea that has a physical or visual impact, you may want to have a sample available. Obviously, you wouldn’t use this in a casual pitch at a networking event. But it will come in handy if you’re invited to a more formal pitch that will hopefully lead to a paycheck. It doesn’t have to be a working prototype, and it shouldn’t be a finished product as you run the risk of the prospect not liking your idea. If you are in the design phase, you may want to think about using a product like InVision to demonstrate how it is going to work. Again, researching your audience will help you decide if this is effective or not. Some people are visual, some are tactile, others are auditory. Make sure your pitch is crystal clear from these perspectives. Don’t let your audience fill in the blanks.
If you work in the film industry, this is a no-brainer. It’s a natural part of your pitch and you want your prospect to understand your approach, aesthetic and the look of your final product. It can work for other creatives as well. As an actor, you may want to show your reel to a corporate client who wants to do a training video. The same is true for a singer or musician. It may just be audio, not video, especially if you’re being hired for your talents and not your looks. A studio musician gig is an example. Remember that you may not be there when your audition is played, so you want to make sure you include your contact information and perhaps a little introduction to give the work context. If you need a videographer, you can hire someone on UpWork or Veed.me. If you have the Adobe Creative Suite, you can take Adobe Spark for a drive and see if it will get the job done. Just remember, an amateurish video screams that you are an amateur too, even if you’re a writer or coder.
As you think about your pitch, consider using your current or past customers or clients to do the selling for you. Be sure to include their name, title and the company, if it’s a business. If they have a bit of name recognition or are known to the person you’re pitching to, so much the better.
Introduction: Are You Ready?
1. Thinking Like a Business
2. Business Structures
3. Access to Capital
4. Creating Revenue Streams
6. Finding Customers
8. Creating a Winning Pitch
9. Effective Negotiation
10. Intellectual Property
11. Managing Your Money
12. Going Global
A pitch should capture the attention of your audience at the very start. It should pique their curiosity and draw them in. It’s like telling a very short story. It captures their imagination, draws them in, and they can’t wait to see how it ends. In this extremely short window of time, they are on the edge of their seat, intrigued by what you have to say and are ready to know more because you sold them on the idea of working with you.
You haven’t made the actual sale, but you’ve moved to the next step. It’s like hooking a sailfish out on the open sea. He’s not in the boat yet, but you have the chance to land him. By the time you are done with the pitch, you have set the hook, and the prospect is on the line. From there, it’s a matter of demonstrating why you are the first and only choice. Every objection is met with a proof point and a benefit or feature. All that’s left is to close the deal and work out the details.
There is no single formula for a winning pitch. But that doesn’t mean you have to start from scratch. You can copy, borrow, edit and customize a basic pitch to make it your own. Each time you deliver it, it gets a little more natural, and you don’t even have to think about it. It’s like knowing the chords or lines to a song; it becomes rote but not mechanical.
Every pitch has the same characteristics:
- An effective pitch balances business and personal needs. A pitch that is all about you and your creative ideas won’t make a connection with the person you’re pitching to, and neither will one that is based purely on emotional desires.
- A pitch needs to be succinct. It’s like meeting someone at a party you might like to date. You have a few moments to catch their attention and give them a reason to continue the conversation and eventually get to ‘yes.’
- Pitches are devoid of flowery speech, superlatives and braggadocio. These don’t make an impact and, worse, may close a door before it opens.
- The foundation of a pitch is a compelling story. Data isn’t story. No one cares how many theatrical productions you’ve been in or that you know so-and-so. People want to know why they should give you a few more minutes of their time, why you may be just what they’re looking for, and why they should care about you as a creative and a potential supplier of a service or product.
- The focus needs to be continually on your customer or client and their problems and needs. You need to hone in on this and then become the solution. Ultimately, people want solutions, whether it’s a new piece of art for their home to fill a void on a wall or someone to star in their next play who can sing and be a romantic lead.
That’s a lot to pack into a pitch, there are ways to refine your message and make it more concise, so it grabs your audience. Remember, you’re approaching this as a business that has something of value to offer, not as a creative who may need to pay rent next week. There’s nothing wrong with focusing on the near term – creatives do it all the time – but operating as a business requires you to think long term, creating a pool of regular customers who come back to you again and again rather than a one-time sale to fill a specific need.
- Know your audience. Every prospect is different. The more you know about them and what they need, the more effective your pitch will be. Resist the temptation to deliver a generic pitch. It will sound mechanical and rehearsed, which of course, it is.
- Focus on the results, not the features. Prospects won’t appreciate the features as much as you do. They want to hear how your product or service will solve a problem they are facing. Don’t bore them with the details. There’s plenty of time to do that later. Focus on the job it does and how it solves the customer’s specific problem.
- Think of your pitch as a job interview. In some ways, that’s what a pitch is. It’s your chance to demonstrate that you can deliver what the prospect needs. As a potential customer, they are looking to “hire” someone to solve their problem. Show them how you fill that role and meet their need. You need to make yourself relevant, if not indispensable.
- Go deep into your customer’s needs. To be truly effective in a pitch, you want to show that you understand their problem or problems from all angles. The apparent problem isn’t necessarily their most costly or vexing one. Demonstrating that you clearly understand the issue at hand will help you connect with your prospect on an emotional level.