The Art of the Pitch
Crafting a pitch is an art — it takes time, practice and multiple revisions to craft your perfect business pitch. But by investing time and effort into crafting your pitch, you will find that many doors will open for you throughout your journey as an entrepreneur.
Every early-stage entrepreneur must have four key pitches in their back pocket, with three versions of each: A one-minute (elevator pitch), a two-minute, and a five-minute pitch. Each one is designed to spark interest from the recipient and get you more time in order to expand to the two minute or five minute pitch — then ultimately, for a proper sit-down meeting.
When it comes to the perspective of an investor, we listen to hundreds of pitches each week. Your pitch must be clear, and concise in order to grab our attention so that you can stand out from the crowd. Attention spans are only getting shorter and shorter every single day (not just for investors, but everybody) due to the digital distractions in our everyday lives.
The following four types of one minute pitches you must have in your back pocket all have fundamentally, the same elements. The only exception is the value proposition, which differs for specific audiences:
1. The Investor Pitch
(This pitch is where your audience is an investor or representatives affiliated with funding opportunities)
The first three elements (which should be consistent across all four pitches) are:
· What is the problem you are trying to solve?
· What is solution that you’re solving it with (your product or service)
· Who are you, and why are you the one that can solve this problem
The value proposition for the investor needs to revolve around how are they going to benefit by investing in your company? (i.e. how are they going to make money, or how will an investment into your company add to their portfolio and/or benefit the other companies in their portfolio).
2. The Strategic Partners Pitch
(For when you’re looking for partner organizations, stakeholders, etc.)
The value proposition for this audience is, simply put, how are you going to make them money or how will you make their company more successful? For them, it’s all about increasing their bottom line.
3. The Team-Recruit Pitch
(To be used when seeking a co-founder, employees, or specific people you want to work with to help build your company)
For this audience, list out the problem, solution, why you (your skill sets) and finally, why them? Why should they join you, and how will joining your company be a great career move for them? How, in the next ten years will this company be amazing? Tailor your value proposition to their needs and wants of being part of an organization and the movement you wish to create.
4. The Grandmother Pitch
(You guessed it — this is the pitch you would use to explain what your company does to your grandmother)
If you can’t keep the problem and the ‘how’ simple enough for even your grandmother to understand, it doesn’t matter how much time and energy you spent on the previous three pitches and their respective value propositions because you would have lost the person’s attention before you even got to the value proposition.
I’d also add that the value proposition that you would include for this kind of pitch is why are you doing this? What’s the outcome that will make you happy? Because, A) your grandmother wants to see you happy, but B) it also clarifies and affirms for yourself on why you are on this path in life, and what are the outcomes you want to see from this endeavor.
FOR ALL OF THESE PITCHES, KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE.
Sometimes, the audience might fit in a grey area — but that’s up to you to make the gut call on what sort of pitch they want to hear. If you do it properly, you’re going to get that two-minute or five-minute time frame with them, and at that time you elaborate further on the how and dive into the who and discuss elements of the business model. Ultimately, you are looking to lock in a next meeting where you are able to deliver a formal presentation tailored to that specific audience.
If you’re at a conference, and you know which investors will be in the room, understand their investment vertical, recent investments, or what excites them. When pitching to investors at a conference, make sure your pitch is clear, concise and that the value propositions reflect the aspects that will resonate with that investor.
For strategic partners, you should know who they are, what will trigger their bottom line, and what opportunities are going to excite them. The more you show the alignment between your company and theirs, the easier the sell.
With these four pitches, evaluate the context of the situation. Use the one-minute pitch for casual encounters — like at a convention, conference or Meetup group. It’s the classic elevator pitch, but the ask will be for more time. Design your pitches so that you can break through the noise and get your message across in a quick, efficient manner.
Lastly, get out there and pitch as often as you can — but most importantly, practice, practice, practice. Test your various pitches and tailor them to your specific audience. Even if the person you are pitching to knows you (or you’ve met them at previous events), chances are if they like you and your company, they are going to talk about or even pitch your company to someone else on your behalf.
By providing a clear, concise and consistent pitch, you can ensure that they can in turn pitch your business appropriately in your absence. Don’t half-ass it, don’t cut corners. Take the time to construct your pitches as you want your message to resonate with each audience, and allow them to carry it forward the way you want it to be done. By taking the time to craft your perfect pitch, it will create a ripple effect of extending your company’s message — which may open more opportunities for you in the future when you least expect it.