Make Your Business Pitch More Compelling
What do you get when you cross a sophisticated attorney, master of the art of argumentation with a sparkly and colorful paper goods business owner? The answer is, you get Angie Avard Turner, Esquire, of Pelham, Georgia.
She’s a case study odd ball, always aware of her creative talent, analytical skill and love of a good argument. As a young child her parents couldn’t figure out what to do with her creativity and as a young adult she certainly knew she did not want to practice law in the conventional way!
Her first career was that of successful creative business owner whose Hype Strype products were at one point in 48 states. Fast-forward to now, she’s the legal voice for a spectrum of creatives, including artists, retailer/wholesalers, techies and service providers.
Like no other attorney, Angie knows intimately the problems creative business owners face, such as not getting paid or other people copying her work. Although these things were discussed in theory, how to solve these problems was not a topic of discussion in law school.
Angie says, “Combining law with creatives is a juxtaposition. On the one hand you have the attorney who is very calculated and risk averse; on the other, you have a creative, who values the free flow of ideas and innovation.” For this reason, many attorneys avoid the nuances of work with creative talent. However, Angie LOVES this back and forth of left and right brain because that is how her mind works!
So it is no surprise that when our conversation turns to how creative entrepreneurs can best pitch their businesses, Angie compares it to giving a compelling closing argument. So how to win?
Creative business owners often pitch other businesses for publicity, joint venture or investment opportunities. What are people looking for when they hear any sort of pitch?
Everyone’s in a crunch to get their information out. It may be through social media or print but we’re all trying to communicate what we do. You need to communicate succinctly. People have a hard time honing down their message. Usually you have 30 seconds. If you can’t clearly and concisely state it in 30 seconds then people find you complicated and shut you down.
When they start their business, most creatives are laser focused on what they are creating or how they set themselves apart. You’re working with your idea all the time. Creatives develop a familiarity with what they are creating that others on the outside do not have. It’s the creative’s job to pare that concept down so the for the person sitting in front of you who doesn’t know anything about you and doesn’t want to take the time, can understand. So 30 seconds is all you’ve got!
I’ve worked to get my own value proposition statement down to less than 30 seconds. If I tell folks I am a business law and intellectual property attorney. Please, yawn! Instead I tell people, “I’m an attorney for the creative arts: artists, retailer/wholesalers, techies and service providers. A lot of people don’t know what intellectual property, so she says, “I help people protect their creative stuff.” People understand the idea of protecting what belongs to them whether it’s land, their personal belongings or even their creative concepts.
How do you advise people to prepare for a pitch or selling conversation?
Recently, I helped craft a pitch for a client who was approaching a national company for a license. I helped them prepare their message for the company’s executive board and they did secure the license. They approached me to help them with the legal ins and outs of what they would be proposing. They also wanted to make sure that they could accurately reflect who their company was and what it does, and how this would be a beneficial relationship.
Demeanor and body language are huge factors that many do not take into consideration. It is critical that your nonverbal communication matches what your mouth is saying. These situations are nerve wracking. Reviewing and preparing, dare I say practicing what you will say is key. It’s a matter of how to manage and mitigate the anxiety and feeling of pressure.
What are typical pitfalls inexperienced speakers make when they are not properly prepared?
When they aren’t prepared a variety of things happen. They stumble. They forget what they are going to say. They say things incorrectly. All of this communicates to the person listening “I’m not ready.” When you’re pitching, your audience is expecting your A game. They’re expecting to see your best face and also expecting to see not just you talk about yourself but that you have a vision and mission in their company/publication, how you fit into their needs/audience. That’s the kicker.
Years ago while my husband and I were running Hype Strype we attended a publicity summit to learn how to pitch at the national level. Multiple media outlets were there, including print media, digital media, and television. We went through 12 weeks of classes and phone conferences to prepare our pitches.
The number one problem that media have is content. They always need content. So the best way to solve that problem for them is to be their solution. How do you do that? You figure out how what you are doing is relevant to their audience. Think about questions like: How we would phrase things? How would we fit these media types? Do these people want to know about our company and its products or are they more interested in the back story? It’s quite nuanced and we learned so much from that experience. One size does not fit all.
What is your best persuasion tip?
A good pitch is quite like making a closing argument to a jury: in both situations, it’s selling an idea and your last shot to leave an enduring impression. Figure out what problem does the audience have or always trying to solve and how does what you have solve that problem. It’s really about serving your audience. There is so much creatives need to learn about grabbing the audience’s attention, finding their problem and showing how your product or service solves it for them while doing all that in a very short time frame. In short…
- Grab their attention.
- Keep their attention.
- Be pleasant.
- Be concise.
- Be relevant.
- Know your audience.
- Watch your audience’s non-verbal cues; be aware of your non-verbal communication.
- Answer questions directly; no dodging
- Know when to sit down.