Monday, July 6, 2009

What's Your Pitch?

Back at the end of June, I attended a 15-second pitch workshop with marketing expert Laura Allen. I've been thinking since then about my dislike of networking and how to overcome it. It doesn't make any sense, because I love talking about my business--but put it in a networking context, and I freak out.

The thing is, I'm not shy. In my other life, I'm an actress. I have no problem getting up on stage in front of hundreds of people; I rarely get stage fright and when I do, it has more to do with feeling unprepared than worry over being seen by so many people. So maybe that's at the root of my hatred of networking: a feeling of being unprepared. This is a novel concept, at least for me.

The cool thing about acting is it's all scripted out. I'm not stuck up on stage, with all eyes on me, having to think up what to say next to move the story along. I know what to say. All I have to do is deliver the words believably. Maybe that's how I feel when networking--like I'm stuck having to come up with compelling ways to "sell" myself on the spot. That's why I liked this 15-second pitch idea.

So what is the 15 Second Pitch? It's a way to sell yourself quickly and naturally in a way that draws people's interest and doesn't freak you out. It's a very short speech that packs in a lot of info about who you are and why you stand out--you even get room for a call to action. On the website there's a wizard that walks you through it. Here's my pitch-development process:

Step 1: Who you are.. The first step asks who you are, what you do and what you specialize in. That's easy: I'm a freelance writer specializing in web copy.

Step 2: What you do. The next question is a big blank box where you write what it is you do, exactly. Hm. It's pretty sad that I'm freezing up on this step. It probably shouldn't be longer than a sentence, so I'll think short and concise: "I write website pages that sell AND rank high in search engines."

Step 3: Why you're the best. THIS is the most important step, I think. Why am I the best at what I do? I blank a bit at this step too until I remember my secret weapon: client testimonials. Looking over those, I notice a trend: my work basically does the bulk of the sales work so the client can close faster.

Step 4: Your call to action. Another easy step: just hand them your business card and ask them to check out your samples online. Right? And then you move on.

So after that, here's my 15 second pitch:

My name is Jennifer and I'm a freelance writer specializing in website copywriting. I write web pages that appeal to search engines and people. My work closes the sale so the client doesn't have to. Here's my business card; feel free to check out my samples online.

Granted it's not perfect; I should probably read this aloud and tweak it, as well as seeing if I could come up with a better USP. But it's a beginning!

So what's your pitch?


Kathy@TheFlawlessWord said...

Thanks for the link. Mine is quite a bit longer than yours. (In fact, it exceeds the 500-character recommendation.) It still needs some tweaking since I came up with it is under 10 minutes:

My name is Kathy Kehrli and I am an award-winning writer and editor specializing in press releases, book manuscripts and marketing material. My specialty lies in finessing others' thoughts and ideas into compelling copy that leaves readers demanding more. My clients have earned coverage in national newspapers and magazines, landed number one rankings on Google and garnered calls from TV media. In addition, their manuscripts have won prestigious national awards. Visit my website,, to discover how I can provide the same results for you.

Susan Johnston Taylor said...

Jen, I have a few different elevator pitches depending on who my audience is. Think of networking as an exercise in improv. Your character is the confident solopreneur who knows she has something good to offer the other person and also takes the time to listen to their needs. I used this strategy for my first TV interview and I think it came off rather well@

They say "fake it 'til you make it," and you certainly don't want to appear fake, but approaching it like a scene could help you appear (and ultimately feel) more confident.

Alysia said...

Thanks Jennifer for sharing this great tactic. I struggle with face-to-face networking because I do consider myself a shy person but I'm trying to overcome that. Tips like these help greatly.

Unknown said...

Hey, I love it!

My name is Lori Widmer and I'm a writing guru specializing in business and technical topics. I have helped numerous clients say what they want to say the way they want to say it. I leave clients pleased and happy to hire me again. If you want your copy to rock, call me.

SalesCooke said...

Nice pitch. Simple, to the point, and clear. I like it alot. The most important part was the value proposition--what makes you the best. I coach a lot of salespeople and they really struggle with this. I will use as an example in the future.

Myric said...

Timely post! I'm re-doing my business cards and was looking for a one line pitch to run along with my info. I'll be playing with that link, for sure.