We’ve all heard about the elevator pitch: a short summary that sells a product or service in the time it takes to ride an elevator (thirty seconds to two minutes at the most). Living in an era where cell phones, tablets and laptops have taken the need for instant gratification to a whole new level, I’d say the elevator pitch is dead. If you can’t sell someone on your project in two to three sentences (i.e. thirty seconds or less), chances are you’ll lose him or her to a beeping phone.
I’m sure you’ve experienced it: you start telling someone about your project and notice that although he smiles and nods, his eyes are starting to glaze over and his mind is drifting (probably to the three e-mails he received since you started talking). You lost him for one simple reason: your pitch sucks.
To formulate a pitch that works, follow these steps:
Take time to write your pitch. You’d be amazed how many people will gloss over the marketing aspect of a creative project. We spend weeks, months even years toiling over a project, agonizing over every single word we write, and yet when it comes to selling it, we give a shaky synopsis off the top of our heads. Spend time boiling down what your book is about. Get to the heart of it. Find a way to express it in three sentences or less. Trust me, you can do it.
Once you’ve come up with your pitch, practice saying it out loud. Say it to the mirror, say it to your spouse, say it to your dog. Get comfortable with the words. Say it so many times that you could give your pitch in your sleep. Work on your intonation, the flow of your words, your tone. The more comfortable you are with delivering your pitch, the better.
You have your pitch nailed. You’re calm and confident. Now its time to work your magic. When you give our pitch, speak slowly and clearly. Enunciate. Make eye contact with your audience, whether it be one person or a group of people. Pick up on their cues. If you’re losing them, amp up your energy. Keep them on track. You have something to say and they better listen.
Why did you give your pitch to this person in the first place? Is he connected to an agent, a publisher, someone who might write a review? Is he or she someone who might be interested in buying your book? At the end of your pitch, make sure to close. If you want him or her to make an introduction, ask for it. Give out your business card, phone number or website information.
In the end, we can never forget Alec Baldwin’s cardinal rule from Glengarry Glen Ross: ABC – Always Be Closing. Master your pitch and you’ll be one step closer to closing a deal.