You may think you have all the boxes checked when it comes to what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. You’ve got a fantastic idea for a product that fills a need in a specific niche. You’ve got the drive, the experience, and most importantly, the passion. However, there’s so much more to running your own business than having a product or service that you’re confident will sell.
The need to stimulate interest for your business will arise at not only the start of your business but also continuously throughout the entire lifespan of your business. Therefore, you’ll need to know how to effectively pitch. Your pitch will likely be used to pique curiosity in your business concept or your company’s existing products or services – targeted to either potential investors who may want to invest in you or to the media to compel them to pick up your story.
The Perfect Pitch for all Occasions
While pitching to potential investors, clients, and the media have different desired results; there are elements which are essential to a pitch regardless of the outcome you hope to achieve:
Do your homework and know your audience
Just as buyer personas greatly influence your sales and marketing strategies, so should knowing whom you are pitching. Whether you are pitching to a potential investor or a publication, do your research and understand who you are pitching to. Without doing your homework, you’re simply wasting time – both yours and the person to whom you are pitching. You may learn that the people you are considering don’t invest in specific types of startups because it conflicts with their existing investments. Or, the journalist you found covers women businesses, but not from your particular industry.
Explain exactly what your product is and who benefits most from it
Your potential investors or the publication you are pitching to don’t want to hear a drawn-out story about how you came up with your idea and all the dreams you have for it. They want to know from the beginning what your product or service is and who will want to buy it.
Every entrepreneur has a story, and it’s crucial that you be authentic when you tell yours. Not only will your pitch be more credible, but it will be easier for you to perfect your pitch when you speak and write the truth consistently. And only by being authentic and therefore, natural, can you make an emotional connection with your audience.
But while there are similarities to the way you pitch to potential investors and the media, there are also significant differences that you should be prepared for.
Pitching to Investors
Pitching to investors can take place at various stages of your business’s lifespan. In the beginning, you may have a brilliant business idea but don’t have sufficient working capital to kick things off. And at some point, you may want to expand your range of products or services or move to a better facility and need more funds to make that happen.
You could have the best business idea in the world, but without the ability to present it in a way that is compelling enough for investors to pay attention, your vision is never going to become a reality. An outstanding pitch is like getting your foot in the door. And the way you deliver your words and how you present your idea could spell the difference between that door to funding being thrown open for you to enter or it being forced shut.
So what are the ingredients of an irresistible pitch that improves your odds of attracting someone to invest in your business idea? Here are some tips:
- Be enthusiastic and interactive – You know your product, your story, and your mission. And now it’s time to sell all those along with your passion and purpose. Investors want to support entrepreneurs who not only have a great product but also have a positive attitude about their business and its potential. They want to know they you are thinking long-term and are already envisioning well beyond your initial product line
- Dress to impress – If you know you’re going to be in front of an audience or meet potential investors, the last thing you want to do is show up looking sloppy. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on a designer dress or get a professional glam squad to do your hair and makeup. If you prefer to dress simply, be neat and presentable. Unless, of course, your niche has a specific look and dressing outside of that doesn’t honor the market you represent. And here is where doing your homework also helps. If you’ve done your research, then you’ll know the audience you are addressing or the people you’re going to meet, allowing you to dress appropriately for the occasion.
- No reading allowed – You can’t display authenticity if you’re reading from your notes. If you know your business well, from its finances to your vision and mission to your long-term business plan, there’s no need for you to have cue cards. Speak from the heart and tell your story.
Pitching to the Media
You’ll also find the need to pitch to the media at some point as you define your marketing goals. It’s great exposure for your business if your story gets picked up by a publication.
You’ll want to persuade them that your story is newsworthy. Perhaps the biggest difference between pitching to investors and pitching to the media is that pitching to the media means having to perfect your pitch in written form.
Journalists rarely ever accept pitches by phone. And because journalists will receive up to a hundred pitches in a day, you’ll have to make yours stand out. The contents of your email need to reflect the verbal pitch that you’ve already perfected and needs to flow well in an email. It should be short and straight to the point.
Here are tips for creating a persuasive pitch to journalists that will lessen your chances of your email getting sent to the trash:
- A short but specific subject line – Journalists receive so many emails in a day and have admittedly judged emails based on their subject line. Subject lines that are hyped up with too many marketing adjectives are quickly dismissed. So take the time to craft a subject line that is specific yet succinct.
- Get straight to the point – Journalists are busy people who don’t want to spend all day filtering through hundreds of emails. When you’re pitching to an audience, you may only have 10 minutes to talk and feel you still have the luxury of building up your story. However, when it comes to emails to the media, you’ll want to skip the pleasantries and go straight to the good stuff. They’ll want to know in the first few sentence who you are, what you do, and why your business is worth talking and reading about in their publication.
The importance of perfecting pitches for all situations is crucial. There are times when you will have the opportunity to pitch your idea to the media over the phone or in person such as an event. And there will be times you need to pitch your business to potential investors via email. When emailing a potential investor, you can use the pitch you would typically send the media but include financial data that will show investors how prepared and business savvy you are.
Have someone who can truthfully critique your pitch. Present it to them and say it exactly as you would in front of a potential investor, complete with hand gestures and body language. Have them read your email pitch and ask them if it flows well and if they spot any typos you may have missed.
So whether you are pitching to a live audience, one-on-one with a potential investor, or emailing the media, perfect your pitch by having someone you trust and who can be honest with you about what your pitch lacks or what it should do away with.
Ultimately, the goal of pitching to investors or the media is the same; to pique interest in your business and keep the conversation going.
Why not try out your pitch below? I’ll give you my expert feedback and specific tips that you can use to refine your pitch.