POP Your Pitch!

As the author of POP! Create the Perfect Pitch, Title and Tagline for Anything (which Seth Godin calls “Revolutionary” and Ken Blanchard says is a “lively guide to getting results”), I’m often asked to coach funding pitches.

I had the pleasure of delivering the luncheon keynote for the Ignite Clean Energy Summit in Boston for the MIT Center for Enterprise awhile back.

Following my presentation, I conducted on-the-spot coaching of the national semi-finalists who were all developing “green” businesses.

Based on feedback from the group, the following POP! Your Pitch tips were particularly helpful in helping them create winning pitches they presented to potential investors the following day.

These tips work whether you’re delivering a pitch, making a sales presentation or speaking at a conference. Use this checklist to prep so you capture and keep everyone’s favorable interest of listeners and win the funding you deserve.

POP! Your Pitch Tip #1:

Say something surprising in the first 60 seconds that gets peoples’ eyebrows up.  Three“Did you know?” questions that introduce startling statistics or recent research is a great way to turn a monolog into a dialogue and motivate people to look up from their devices and decide you’re worth listening to.

POP! Your Pitch Tip #2.

The purpose of a venture capital pitch is NOT to get funding; it’s to get a follow-up meeting.  It’s idealistic to think an investor is going to give you millions after a ten-minute pitch. It’s realistic to sufficiently intrigue and impress decision-makers in ten minutes so they’re compelled to find out more.

POP! Your Pitch Tip #3.

Turn audience members into word-of-mouth advertisers by crafting a “money phrase” people can repeat, word for word, after hearing it once. If they can’t repeat it, they can’t remember it. Craft an AIR-tight sound bite by using Alliteration, Iambic Meter, and Rhyme.  For example, “Click it or ticket” is better than “Buckle Up for Safety.”   I helped an Ignite Clean Energy team come up with “Any plug, anytime, anywhere” as a tagline for their electric car.

POP! Your Pitch Tip #4.

Insert a one-minute success story about how clients have benefited from your company so decision-makers have context (not just content) and connect with you on an emotional and logical level.  As the former Pitch Coach for Springboard Enterprises (which has helped women entrepreneurs receive $6.6 billion (yes, that’s a “b”) in venture capital, I helped Lauren Williams of Movie Hatch craft a success story about a client who went from having his film collecting dust on a closet shelf to winning the Jackson Hole film festival in less than 4 months.  Her 60-second example provided compelling proof of concept.

POP! Your Pitch Tip #5.

Your confidence and leadership capacity is indicated by the authority and volume of your voice. If people can’t hear you, they won’t respect you. They conclude you don’t have the command and clout to carry off your venture.  I once saw a CEO of a Fortune 100 company lose a corporate audience at a national convention in the first sixty seconds because she had a little-girl voice that ended with an upward inflection that made her seem tentative and hesitant.

POP! Your Pitch Tip #6.

Your business name is a deal-maker or deal-breaker. Do people “get” your business name the first time you say it? If they don’t understand it, they can’t relate to it and they won’t want it. Zappos, Google, and Yahoo are all fun to say. Arxcis, GPM Technologies, Sempran and other difficult-to-pronounce-or-understand names make people go “huh?”  Remember, confused people don’t say YES. You’ve spend months (years?) developing your idea and organization. Invest in its success by giving it a meaningful, strategic, easy-to-remember name people relate to and repeat.  (My  can help you do this.)

POP! Your Pitch Tip #7.

PROPS! When you show or demonstrate your product, people SEE what you’re SAYING.  Show and tell is more convincing than tell, tell, tell.  I coached Kathleen Callendar of PharmaJet on how to make her elevator speech crystal clear., Instead of describing her “biodegradable medical delivery device for subcutaneous inoculations” she said, “Did you know 1.8 billion injections are given every year?  Did you know up to half are given with unsafe needles?  Did you know we’re spreading the very diseases we’re trying to prevent?.” She then held up a baggie with a “used needle” and contrasted it with her 100% safe, one-use needle. Her visual proof provided memorable, deal-closing evidence.

POP! Your Pitch Tip #8.

Tower, don’t cower. Your leadership is perceived by your posture. A fig-leaf position means you have something to hide. Slouched shoulders and a tucked-down head are signs of insecurity. I coach clients to see speaking as a sport. Adopt an athletic “ready” stance (feet a foot or more apart, not together) with your knees slightly bent so you’re grounded yet able to move naturally. Hold your head high and your hands 6-12 inches apart, like you’re holding a basketball. Don’t grip the lectern or clasp your hands together (both connote nervousness). Look everyone “in the eye” so they feel connected to you.

POP! Your Pitch Tip #9.

The two most powerful words in a pitch? “For example.” Back up each claim with a real-life example with quantifiable metrics and measurable evidence (i.e., 30% increase in sales, 20% reduction in turnover, took company public with a $10 million profit, grew an organization to 300 employees) so investors know you’ve delivered bottom-line results before and can be trusted to do so again. Put us in the scene and re-enact the example with “He said, I said” dialogue so it comes alive and people feel they’re in the room as if it’s happening right now.

POP! Your Pitch Tip #10.

Don’t just ask for the sale – plant-specific action seeds by offering three follow-up options including where you can be found immediately afterward. Always repeat your name to imprint it. If you don’t, you’ll be out of sight, out of mind. For example, “I’m Chris, in the green jacket, with CleanerGreenerNow. I’ll be (point) in the lobby at our next break. If you’d like a product sample, a copy of our financial projections, or to talk with our COO about how we’re going to scale this in the next six months, please come and talk with us.  I look forward to your questions and to seeing you in the lobby at 2:30.”

Want to see a couple of these ideas in action? Check out my TEDx talk which demonstrates how to open a pitch – or ANY presentation – with the “Did You Know?” sequence so you engage your audience in the first sixty seconds.

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Sam Horn – CEO of the Intrigue Agencyauthor of POP!  IDEApreneur  andWashington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? – helps people create one-of-a-kind projects that scale their influence – for good.  Her work has been featured in New York Times, Forbes and on NPR.  Her highly interactive, inspiring presentations receive raves from such clients as NASA, Accenture, National Geographic, Cisco, and Capital One. Contact Cheri@IntrigueAgency to arrange for Sam to speak to your group or to inquire about consulting/coaching.

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POP! Out of Your Crowd by Being One-of-a-Kind

FlowerSam“You gotta be original.  If you’re not, what do they need you for?” – actress Bernadette Peters.

Do you think everything’s been said and done?

Do you think there’s nothing new under the sun?

Au contraire.

There ARE original ideas, first-of-their-kind brands and businesses, and individuals who stand out from their crowd.

In fact, your success depends on your ability to say, do and offer something people haven’t heard or seen before, something that motivates them to say “Tell me more.”

Are you thinking, “Easier said than done?”

Agreed. That’s why I introduce step-by-step processes in my POP! and Got Your Attention? books that show you EXACTLY HOW to create new ideas, original approaches, and innovative messages that give you a competitive edge.

Think about it. Whatever you do, you’re probably one-of-many. One of many consultants.  One of many companies.  One of many job-seekers.

You don’t want to be one-of-a-many. You want to be one-of-a-kind.

When you’re one-of-a-kind, you have no competition

Are you thinking, “Okay Sam, I agree with this, but how can I create an original approach or innovative brand name?”

Here’s just one of the replicable POP! processes you can use to create something that’s new, something that helps you break out instead of blend in. It’s called the Half and Half Technique.

Here’s an example of someone who coined a Half and Half Brand Name and then I’ll show how you can do it too.

Dr. Francine Kaufman was concerned about the numbers of children coming into L.A.’s Children’s Hospital with Type 2 Diabetes.

She said, “A decade ago, this would have been so rare, it would have been written up in a medical journal. Now, such children fill my medical clinic.”

She wanted to do something about this, yet there were many doctors and nutritionists addressing this issue. She would have blended in.

And when you care about something and want other people to care about it too; you don’t want to blend in, you want to break out.

So, what did Dr. Francine Kaufman do? She coined a Half-and-Half word by combining the words diabetes and obesity into … DIABESITY.

Boom. Not only did her original word get attention for this important issue – it helped her become the go-to-media resource, author and expert on this topic. She scaled her influence and income by coming up with an innovative name.

A fast food restaurant that specializes in hot dogs and beer came up with a fantastic Half and Half Name… Frank ‘n Stein.   An Italian-Chinese restaurant calls itself Ciao Mein. An Indian-Hawaiian café’ named itself Taj Mahalo.

My son Tom loved a class at Virginia Tech where Professor Cole introduced students to the joys of Wagner, Verdi and Puccini. He called it Operatunity.

You may be thinking, “Okay, those are clever names. Big whoop. But I don’t want to be ‘cutesy.’ How can this help grow my business bottom line?”

Good question. Here’s the backstory of how an entire industry was transformed because a shop owner came up with a new, original way to “do business.”

About a decade ago, the scuba industry had a serious problem.  Fewer and fewer people were going scuba diving. Many dive shop operators were on the verge of bankruptcy.  So, how did they solve this problem?

Well, let’s use the 6 P’s of Disruption (featured in Got Your Attention?) to show how to attract new customers and generate new revenue with a fresh approach and positioning that gives you a competitive edge, all at the same time.

P – Purpose: What was the Purpose of these scuba operators? They wanted to get new customers and more customers so they wouldn’t go bankrupt.

P – Person: Who is the person who has the power to buy or try what you’re offering? Here’s where it gets interesting. 20 years ago, who made the decision about how families  spent their time in Hawaii? Probably Mom or Dad. Ten years ago, it changed.

Guess who now makes the decision about how families spend their time in Hawaii? THE KIDS. Uh-oh. Kids can’t go scuba diving. No wonder the industry was struggling. The person who had the power to try and buy what they were selling … couldn’t.

P – Problem: Okay, put yourself in the mental shoes of the person who has the power to buy what you’ve got. Let’s call this person Andy. Ask Andy, “What Problems do you have with my product or service?”  Andy would answer, “Well, I can’t go scuba diving because I can’t afford it. And I can’t get certified. And I’m scared to go down 100 feet. What if I drown? What if I can’t equalize my ears? And I can’t carry those heavy oxygen tanks on my back.”

All those problems are barriers to entry. And the more barriers to entry your business has, the more likely it is to go bankrupt.

P – Premise: Your Premise is, “Why does it have to be that way? What if there was a better way, safer way, less expensive way, more appealing way,  easier, less risky way? What if I could make those problems go away?”

P – Process/Approach: In answering those questions, you often come up with an original Process/Approach (or program/product) that  eliminates the problems that were keeping people from trying and buying what you’re offering.

For example, Andy might say, “What if I didn’t have to carry those heavy oxygen tanks on my back? What if I could just leave them on the boat? Then, you could just run a long air hose from the oxygen tank to my snorkel mask. And then I wouldn’t have to go down 100 feet. I wouldn’t have to worry about drowning or equalizing my ears. I could go down ten feet and have fun swimming with the humuhumunukunukuapaaa’. Plus, I wouldn’t have to get certified. So I could afford it. And my whole family could go.  This would be a whole  NEW way to enjoy the ocean without all the problems of scuba. I would happily do it then.”

P – Pop:   If you want your new entity to break out vs. blend in out, you’ll want to give it a new name.  Use my Half and Half Technique to create an intriguing word that will drive media attention, buzz and new customers.

Let’s see, it’s half scuba, half snorkel. Take the first syllable of the first word and blend it with the second syllable of the second word and you get … SNUBA.

Tah dah. An original word and a new multi-million dollar industry that saved many mom and pop operators from bankruptcy and revitalized their business.

Want more examples of how to create new brand names,  first-of-its-kind products, programs and services, and a unique positioning/messaging that help you break out instead of blend in?

Check out these posts that feature additional ways to EARN your decision-makers’ favorable attention. 

Confused People Don’t Say Yes

Can We Really Win People’s Attention in 60 Seconds?

Want Sam to share her intriguing, inspiring and innovative insights with your group? Discover why her presentations receive raves from such clients as National Geographic, Intel, NASA and Capital One.  Contact Cheri@IntrigueAgency.com to share your group’s priorities so Sam can customize a program for your event; or to arrange to consult one-on-one with Sam on your project.