business pitch

Ditch the Pitch

Literary legend has it that Ernest Hemingway took on a bet that he couldn’t tell a complete story in just six words, and won it with this simple sentence: For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

In the 21st Century we’re no strangers to this kind of bare-bones messaging. We can’t watch a news bulletin without simultaneously reading headlines flashing along the bottom of our screens. We abbreviate entire SMS’s into an almost illegible jumble of letters. We’re suckers for the succinct.

As a business it is imperative that your marketing strategy reflect the demands of your would-be clients, customers or investors for instant gratification and bite sized news items. It’s time to forget the out-of-date Elevator Business Pitch, and acknowledge that we live, after all, in the age of Twitter.

The Elevator Pitch, the long standing bread and butter for ambitious entrepreneurs and successful salesmen, was originally conceived as a reference to an incidental meeting in an elevator, and thus having the course of a single elevator ride during which to make your sales pitch.

Traditionally, the most liberal of time-keepers would say that your elevator pitch should clock in at around 30 seconds, a sentiment reflected in television advertisements (themselves a form of the Elevator Pitch), which in recent decades have shrunk to averaging at around 30 seconds as well.

A 30 second Elevator Pitch, at a rate of 2.5 words a second, would result in roughly 75 words in which to deliver your message. Contrast this with a Twitter post, which ranges between 100-140 characters. If we figure that the average word is between four and five letters in length that leaves us with only 10 seconds/25 words with which to pitch! It is interesting to note that TV ads are increasingly coming in at around the 10 second mark as well.

It might seem like an impossible task to generate enough interest, convey enough information and include a call to action all in a single sentence. Yet, as pointed out by Carmine Gallo from Forbes Magazine*, Apple founder Steve Jobs would pitch his products with half a Tweet-sized tagline; the iPod was famously introduced as “1,000 songs in your pocket”, the Macbook Air is “The world’s thinnest notebook” and most recently the new Macbook is hailed under the clever line of “Light. Years ahead.”

There are three key ingredients encapsulated in each pitch:

–       An introduction of the product.

–       Information of what is being offered beyond its competitors.

–       An indication of how this advantage benefits you.

Your marketing tagline should, in Jobs’s own words, “[get] so close [to your customers] that you tell them what they need well before they realise it themselves”. So to help you get started, here are three simple tips to help you craft your own perfect Twitter-pitch.

1)    Differentiate – isolate the single most definitive aspect that divides you from your competition and will entice consumers to seek you out.

2)    Describe – develop a one-line description that rolls off the tongue easily, that uses clever word play, or is simple and iconic.

3)    Delete & Develop – trim away all of the extraneous words and descriptions. Ensure that you’ve created the most succinct pitch possible, and make sure that you keep it to one line and under ten seconds, because less is more and if it can’t be digested in 10 seconds or less, no one is going to take any note of it regardless of its quality.

It’s 2015 and it’s time to pitch small and strong, or go home. Your customers/clients are all scrolling down dozens if not hundreds of Tweets a day. They’re seeing billboards sprawled across the city, and ads on TV pumping products down their throat – so it’s your task to break through the white noise and get yourself out there.

Go simple, get Tweeting!

– Aaron