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99 Problems – But a Pitch Ain’t One

So many things can go wrong in business.  Companies with great products, services, and people can and do fail.  This can be for a number of reasons: poor cashflow, poor marketing, or some external force.  But in many cases failure can be attributed to a few simple things.  Sometimes, it can be something as simple as lack of a clear message.  This is why your pitch is critical.


So, what is your pitch?  It is a quick, short summary of what you do for your customers.  Before we really dive into what a pitch is in detail, I want to start with a short story from our Editor, Carmen Reis.


During a corporate retreat, a high-ranking VP was flown in to speak with his national team, and in particular the newest hires.  After the usual speech and intros, he then jumped into an exercise that quickly had everyone on their toes.  He started to point at random people and asked “tell me what you do for me in 10 seconds or less, or you’re fired”.  While it was established before hand that no one was actually going to be fired, it didn’t make any of the participants any less nervous. Many stumbled through long and incomplete explanations, gave vague job titles or duties as a response, or simply stuttered through their allowed 10 seconds with no real message at all.  While our editor passed this exercise with flying colours, many did not, and were left to question why they could not communicate their value quickly and easily, even though they knew that they were valuable to the company day in and day out.  The lifeblood of this organization could not justify why it needed to exist.


What does this story mean to you and your business? Imagine that I ask you: “What exactly do you do for your customers?”.  Are you sweating, or do you know exactly how to convey the value that you represent to me?

Let’s suppose that you sell orange juice: so, what is your pitch?

  1. “I sell orange juice” – simple and to the point, but I can buy orange juice anywhere.
  2. “I sell great orange juice for cheap” – simple, but why complicate this with things like cheap or expensive; remember, value isn’t the same as cost.
  3. “I help my customers start their day right with premium orange juice” – ok, so you’re going to make Monday morning a bit easier, and I’m going to get something better than Minute Maid out of it?  Sounds interesting…

Remember, your pitch is an attention grabber. It doesn’t need to educate, inform, or sell. It just needs to clearly tell someone why they should stop and listen when there are so many choices out there.  When writing your pitch be confident, positive, and offer a true value for your customers.  That way, when you get your 10 seconds, you’ll shine instead of dropping the ball.