Updated: Mar 3
In business, you are always pitching.
Pitching your idea, your vision, pitching yourself as the founder, pitching to sell products, pitching to get customers, pitching for staff, finding team members to come and work with you, and the biggest of all, pitching for someone to back you. Being ‘backed’ can mean many things, but mostly it means that another person or organisation believes in you. They believe in you and your idea and that you are the best person to make what you say you will do, create or build happen. They back you; you back yourself and your idea or business. Backing comes in various forms of support regarding resources, money, investment, and capital.
It can be challenging to gain the attention of others, especially in today's world, where there is so much noise.
I’ve worked and coached hundreds of founders through the trickiest times in their businesses, including all the above scenarios. Pitching is all about entries and exits. It can open doors, warm rooms, gain followers and open wallets. It can be that one thing that will enable the most significant entry into a business and can also determine the exit. How much time you invest in this area is up to you. I will consistently rate it as a top priority.
Here are some guidelines that I have found work to help you pitch yourself effectively.
Establishing genuine connections with everyone along the way is critical to getting your message out there and inviting people to get to know you. Pitching an idea is hard when you have zero connection to the people. Pitching your new idea when there is already a warm connection in the room ( or online )can sometimes be the difference between a good pitch and a poor pitch.
Cold pitching is like spam emailing; there are zero connection points to draw from. Investing in relationships in business goes beyond pitching your idea or asking for money. An invested founder highlights that they value the engagement more than seeing it as a transaction to leverage. Nobody likes to feel used; people do like to genuinely help, so make sure you give them a reason to want to help you.
The key to building business relationships over time is to give before you get; in this case, the #givefirst philosophy rings true. Do you have something to offer? Can you offer your time, expertise, or skills to help someone? There is more value in providing yourself and services than you realise. Investing in others’ needs as a value exchange is like social currency in the bank, before asking someone to help to meet your own.
Craft Your Message, Business Narrative and Ask
Before reaching out to others, it is essential to be very clear about what you do, what you are asking for and why you are reaching out to that particular person. Do your research, and find out about the person you are asking something of. This is relevant when asking for their time, money, media coverage, connections, mentoring or general feedback.
On many different occasions that I have met with people who have reached out to me, they need to do more research to get the most out of the meeting.
Find out as much as you can about the person you are asking something of to make sure you are connecting to the right person.
Craft your message and your conversational pitch. Having a very articulate way of explaining what you do and what you need will enable people to help you easier and faster. When dealing with the media, if you pitch for coverage, you must know WHY they would want to cover your story. Find a journalist who has an interest in the area of your niche and connect.
Tailor Your Pitches
Sending the same pitch to everyone is a recipe for failure. Instead, pitch to the presented scenario, tailor it to the audience of interest and get them excited and intrigued to hear more about the opportunity. When you get a chance to pitch, find out what they expect of you regarding:
in-person or online delivery
Tech/ IT requirements for meetings/presentations
Who will be in the room, seeing/accessing this pitch material, video, or live stream?
It’s your job to deliver precisely what is asked. Conversely, don’t pitch so often that people tune out to your story. Keep people up-to-date as you go and provide an ongoing growth dialogue as part of an evolving pitch to take stakeholders on your journey.
Leveraging Local connections and local media
Everyone loves a local connection. People like supporting the tribe. Where appropriate and relevant, if there is a local connection to draw on, mention it. Someone always know someone who knows someone. Use the connections that are available to you.
Talking to local blogs or trade publications can be an effective way to get your message out there. One good meeting with a local blogger or editor has the potential to have a huge impact.
By following these guidelines, you can increase your chances of successfully pitching yourself to the press.
Remember to be persistent, patient, and authentic in your approach.
Track Your Progress
It's essential to keep track of your progress when pitching to capture the data.
Document who you pitched to, when, where, what level of interest there was, and contact details of who you pitched to. Business cards, LinkedIn contacts and social media connections all count as connections. Keep a record of your communications, including who you have contacted, and invite them to subscribe to regular updates if you provide them ( a simple subscribe button on your website will do the trick). If it is journalists and editors you've contacted, note the topics you've pitched and the outcomes of those pitches.
This information can be valuable in refining your approach and identifying areas for improvement. A good CRM will make this process easier; in the interim, an excel spreadsheet will do.
Investors and busy people are time-poor, be sure to thank people for their time spent with you listening. Following up with connections, journalists and editors after your initial pitch can keep your message in mind. However, be strategic in your follow-ups. Don't pitch them every time something happens, but keep them up-to-date if you have something worthy to share. Respect their time and workload, and avoid being pushy or aggressive.
Getting the replies, responses, and feedback can be slow and challenging. Keep going if you see immediate results. It takes time to build relationships and get your message out there. Stay persistent, patient, and authentic in your approach.
Learn from Rejections
Only some pitches will be successful. However, rejection can be an opportunity to learn and refine your approach. Take the time to reflect on why a pitch wasn't received well and ask for feedback. This will show you are coachable and willing to learn and grow.
Use this feedback to refine your message and strategy.
Above all, be authentic in your approach when pitching to anyone. Don't try to be someone you're not or pitch a story that doesn't align with your values. Authenticity can help you build relationships with investors, mentors, key connections, journalists and editors and increase your chances of success.
If you found this helpful, please email us to share what you took from itit. We’d love to hear feedback. Peta@everydayentrepreneur365.com.au