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Perfecting Your Pitch

By: Chris LaFay on May 10, 2018

Comparison pitches kill your credibility.

Does your company’s elevator pitch include one of the following comparisons?

  1. You know the _____ Company?  We are like that, except for the _____ industry.
  2. You know how _____ Company is known for it’s quality but also high price tag?  We do the same thing, but for cheaper.

If it does – stop saying it – PERIOD! It strips away what makes you and your business, unique. Interesting. Compelling.

And even worse, it looks like you’re borrowing another company’s hard-earned reputation for yourself.  Riding coattails has never garnered fresh respect, and it can even leave an impression of laziness or confusion about your own business.

Business model metaphors dilute your unique passion.

As a business owner (or salesperson) we want to get our scope across to potential clients as efficiently as possible. Sometimes the best way to do that is to leverage similar business models. They often help explain what we do more quickly – we’ll call these Business Model Metaphors.

In general, it’s an effective technique that helps reduce the hurdles a person encounters when learning who you are and what you do.  The goal of an elevator pitch is to sum up your business as quickly as possible to a random stranger, right?

But there’s a hidden cost to relying too heavily on metaphors or associations with other established business models.

Fitting in a box shuts down conversation.

But the thing is, these quick “business model metaphors” quickly override your story and your passion. A person’s predisposed ideas of another business takes the stage.  That can sometimes be favorable, but more often than not, it shuts down their willingness to listen to what you have to share.

Fitting in a box fails to get your story front and center. In the listener’s mind, boxes can actually swap you out for something you have zero control over.  Instead of leaving someone with your unique value proposition, you now leave them with “a slightly different XYZ Company” – and that’s not what they’re looking to buy.

Think of a pitch more as a side-by-side brainstorm session with a colleague. Listening and learning from each other builds trust and solves problems.

Think of a pitch more as a side-by-side brainstorm session with a colleague. Listening and learning from each other builds trust and solves problems.

Show that you’re listening to your market, and buyers will buy in.

Traditional strategy is focused on the company, trying to position the company as being a cost leader, being different, focusing on a niche, or something similar, as we have seen. But being cheaper or different alone is simply no longer enough to be successful (if it ever was). The Art of Opportunity takes an entrepreneurial stance, looking beyond positioning your company to a larger holistic perspective that involves creating value for your customer, your firm, and your business ecosystem. Only by creating value for a multitude of stakeholders does your company have the potential to be successful. And creating value is achieved through more than simply offering a cheap or different product, to include products, services, the entire revenue model.

The Art of Opportunity – Marc Sniukas

It’s simple: your business started because of a passion you had to fill a gap that the market needed.  Talk about the issue – explain why it’s actually a problem. (If you did your homework to get in front of prospects that your business serves, they are already going to know it’s a problem and they’ll be on your side.) Tell them how you can fix it to make their life easier. Walk through the process of how your product fixes issues and allows your customer to do more of what they need to be doing. Highlight customer benefits – that’s where the ROI is and that’s how you make your product memorable.

A good pitch isn’t about the prospect listening to you.  It’s about you listening to your market.  When your prospect recognizes that you’ve done the hard work to define and fill the gap for them, you earn credibility and open up opportunity to do business.  In a mutually beneficial way–isn’t that what we are all looking for? A win-win scenario?

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Written By:

Chris LaFay

Chris founded CCC after trying to figure out how to have the work-life balance that everyone dreams of. Not only does he get to enjoy designing + implementing websites, he also gets to play with his dog, travel, enjoy family dinners, and keep up with baseball. Check back with Chris for articles on web design, user experience, and project case studies.