This post originally appeared on startupnation.com/grow-your-business
Whether you’re pitching your business on “Shark Tank” or figuring out how to create an effective pitch during a pandemic, having an elevator pitch at the ready can help land new deals and make an impression. For two decades, Laura Allen, aka The Pitch Girl, has helped executives and entrepreneurs craft compelling pitches. In fact, she even landed a $5.5 million deal as the result of a cold call!
We caught up with Allen to find out more.
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This conversation has been edited for clarity and brevity.
StartupNation: Why is it important for entrepreneurs to have a well-honed pitch?
Laura Allen: If you confuse them, you lose them. Your pitch has to be clear, concise and compelling, so that you grab the listener’s attention and they want to learn more.
StartupNation: What are the key components of an effective pitch?
Laura Allen: I came up with a four-step formula that I’ve been using for the past 20 years.
Step number one is who you are, so you say, “Hello, my name is Laura Allen.”
Step number two is what you do. Be specific, so if you’re a web designer, you say you’re a web designer.
Step number three is why you are the best at what you do. And you don’t have to say, “Here’s why I’m the best,” it’s what makes you different from the competition, what sets you apart.
Step number four is a call to action, so what you want the listener to do next, whether it’s go to your website, sign up for an email, whatever you would like the person to do.
StartupNation: Should you alter your pitch depending on the context and who you’re talking to?
Laura Allen: I came up with the concept of a “pitch for every niche.” I said that because people would remember it. It’s a pitch for each audience, because one of my clients is a web designer, and she does very high-end beautiful websites, but she also does websites for people just starting out. Those are two very different pitches, because in one pitch she talks about getting a $500 website in a weekend and the other pitch is more custom and for a much higher budget.
StartupNation: As your business evolves, how often should you revisit your pitch?
Laura Allen: You should constantly be revisiting your pitch. It’s a challenge for people to come up with their elevator pitch, so once they do, they’re going to stick with it for five years, even though maybe the economy changed, and maybe their business changed.
StartupNation: Once you’ve written the pitch, how can you get comfortable delivering it?
Laura Allen: I think the best way to get comfortable is to memorize the pitch. I know people are not a fan of that, because they say “I don’t want to sound like a robot” but once you memorize it, you can go off script. You’re not going to forget it, you won’t get nervous, you have something to work with. I’ve seen entrepreneurs pitch at competitions, get nervous, and literally forget who they are. They don’t mention who they are or the company name!
StartupNation: Can you tell us about the cold call that landed you a $5.5 million deal?
Laura Allen: I was working for a small ad agency in Manhattan, and I was an account executive at the time and wanted to move up in the company. I happened to be home visiting my dad during Christmas break and he gave me an article that he ripped out of the local newspaper. It was about a new company and the founder had an innovative way for college kids to find jobs. At the time it was a nicely designed and printed Job Search Kit that was mailed to people.
Since it was a holiday, I had no choice but to track down the owner of the company and cold call him on the phone and say: “I work at an ad agency based in NYC, I love your idea, but I’m on a flight back to NYC on Monday at noon, is there any chance I can come meet you in person first thing Monday to learn more about what you do and see if we’d be a fit?” The owner’s right-hand man, Bob, got back to me a few hours later and said yes, be here at 9 a.m. on Monday.
I went and I pitched Bob, and Bob was very impressed. He liked the idea of working with a NYC ad agency. They pulled together an advertising and marketing budget that was $5.5 million, so not a bad deal for the ad agency! I was just an ad exec at that time, so I didn’t see many of those dollars, but it did motivate me to want to start my own business and it taught me that anyone can pitch against the big agencies if they know what to say and how to say it.
StartupNation: Anything else you’d like readers to know about honing their pitch?
Laura Allen: I think it’s a most important tool that entrepreneurs have, because even if you have a tough month and you can’t afford marketing or advertising, you always have yourself. You can always reach out via email or LinkedIn. You always have this one thing to start with, to really make you stand apart from the competition, and that’s your pitch.
The post It’s Essential to Have a Pitch for Every Niche, Says The Pitch Girl’s Laura Allen appeared first on StartupNation.