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Pinstripe Bookshelf: The Perfect Pitch

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I’ve been invited to pitch for hundreds of pieces of business over the course of my career, and I’ve been fortunate to win a significant percentage of them. Our clients know that we don’t go into meetings with PowerPoint presentations or slick handouts – we’ve all suffered enough with death by PowerPoint.* According to Jon Steel, author of The Perfect Pitch: The Art of Selling Ideas and Winning New Business, we’re doing something right, but I know we can always get better. That’s why I picked up this book and discovered more than a few new insights to boost our new business efforts.

perfectpitchAlthough written from the perspective of a strategic planner pitching new business in the advertising industry, the content is relevant for anyone charged with selling ideas and landing new clients. In the professional services realm, one can imagine what new business pitches look like – the parade of suits promising a commitment to client service, full-service capabilities, unmatched experience… all hiding behind a projector, screen and a stack of “leave behinds.” Sound familiar?

Perfect Pitch is not a call to end PowerPoint presentations, but a manual on how to understand your audience and present ideas in a compelling, persuasive fashion. There are dozens of useful nuggets and commentary throughout the book – things to do as well as what not to do.

One of the resounding themes throughout the book rang familiar. My very first pitch for Pinstripe was a soon-to-be-fast-growing software company and I was fortunate to end up on the short list against one of the largest and well-known agencies in Tampa Bay. After a few meetings and submitting a proposal, I won the account which helped get the agency off the ground and was the beginning of a long, rewarding relationship. In that meeting where the CEO officially hired us, she asked if I wanted to know why they picked us. I was so stunned that I didn’t know what to say, but she responded, “you were the only one who behaved as if our business was important to you.”

It was then and it is now.

Order The Perfect Pitch from Amazon

* In 2006, Wall Street Journal estimated 30 million PowerPoint presentations are given every day around the world. We’ve seen the backlash over the last nine years, so we can hope it has gone down since then. Unfortunately, it has probably become worse.

A Beginner’s Guide to Hashtags

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You have heard the term “hashtag” used in reference to Twitter or Instagram. You may have even heard it used as slang in spoken language, usually said ironically and preceding a cliché, such as “hashtag YOLO” or “hashtag ladies who lunch.” This slang use emphasizes the original intent of the hashtag, which is to link associated content — an easy search tool for social media. For example, if you want to post on social networks about a Tampa Bay Rays baseball game, use #TampaBayRays or #RaysUp and it will appear in searches along with thousands of other Tampa Bay Rays posts.

If we focus on the hashtag as a marketing tool rather than an ironic reference to cultural vapidity or slang, we begin to see its usefulness. It is one of the best ways to place your content in front of the appropriate eyes on social networks, and the more specific you can be, the better chance you have of reaching your target audience. Consider the following simple rules:

  • Hashtags are not case sensitive – so even though phrases should have no space, capitalizing the first letter of words in a phrase allows you to distinguish between the words – #FirstLady
  • Try to incorporate the hashtag into the body of your post – say “#ProfessionalServicesMarketing” rather than “Professional services marketing #ProfessionalServicesMarketing”
  • Think about what your client/customer/user wants to read. What are they searching for? These are your keywords and they will be your hashtags.
  • Once you come up with a list of hashtag phrases, use the social networks to search the phrases and keywords to see what other content is trending – is it relevant to your content? If the content you see is not related to yours, try to come up with a keyword that will put your content in the right place.
  • Look at your competitors’ posts – what hashtags are they using and what content are they posting? You can learn a lot by regularly visiting their social media accounts. Avoid “me too” marketing, but use competitive insights from this research to generate new ideas.
  • Choose your words wisely – you only have 140 characters to get your point across on Twitter and you don’t want Instagram, Facebook or G+ posts to be too lengthy.
  • Avoid hashtag overload. #toomuch #unreadable #annoying #whodoesthis #hashtagsforhashtags #marketing #advertising #pr #socialmedia

Twitter can be an important part of a social media strategy. It is ranked as the second most popular social media platform, next to Facebook, so it is brimming with potential customers. Instagram is among the fastest growing platform and companies are finding success with advertising/promoted posts. The challenge is to reach your prospective clients by using good hashtags and consistent posting.

Pinstripe Marketing has a social media team brimming with ideas for your campaign. We can help generate ideas or take the load off your hands so you can work on your business.

For more information on social media strategy, read some of Pinstripe Marketing’s other social media articles. 

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Developing the Perfect Pitch

help developing a good elevator pitchWhat does your company do? Why are you better than your competitors? Dazzle me with your answer before I get off this elevator on the fifth floor.
The elevator pitch, so named because it should take you no longer than the average elevator ride to deliver, is your opportunity to captivate your audience. While this sounds fairly simple, it can be complex to sum up your mission passionately and succinctly. That’s why a well-crafted elevator pitch is handy, if not essential.

If you don’t have one, create one. If you do have one, revisit it frequently to keep it evolving with your brand. Some guidelines:

  • Start with the main point you want your audience to remember.
  • Think of your pitch as a conversation starter. You don’t want to say too much or too little.
  • Highlight what makes your company unique.
  • Create messaging tailored to each of your target audiences.
  • Make sure your pitch feels natural – you don’t want to seem insincere.
  • Engage the listener(s) with a question.

 

As you craft your elevator pitch, think of people you’ve met who have evoked excitement in you and others by simply talking about their work. Chances are, they had a well-crafted elevator pitch. Take cues from these people. What was it about their pitch that left an impression? How can you incorporate some of those elements into your own pitch?

Design a pitch that highlights your own strengths and the strengths of your company. Employ a conversational tone so you don’t sound like you are reciting from a set of notecards, and allow for variations – it doesn’t have to be exactly the same every time.

Your engaging question should be relevant to the solution your company provides. If you design websites for professional services, you could ask, “Does your company’s website incorporate a blog and calendar to keep subscribers up-to-date with your events and industry events?” With that one question, you have shown that you understand what they do and suggested that your company could offer a unique solution to that problem.

Test your pitch on coworkers, friends and family, then use their feedback to fine tune your pitch, and keep practicing. The more you practice your elevator pitch, the more confident and natural you will be.

Resources about developing an elevator pitch:

Elevator Pitch: Want to Make a Point? Just be Yourself

Six Tips for Perfecting your Elevator Pitch

 

See more articles on marketing, branding and social media from Pinstripe Marketing

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You Already Know Your Best Brand Ambassadors

ambassador_newsYou may know exactly what your brand stands for. But does your team? As the people who interact with your customers every day, your employees must be fully aware of your brand message and how to represent it.

This encompasses everything you do and everyone you touch: from the pitch, to customer service, to email communications, to the way we dress when meeting with customers and prospects.

Creating a culture of brand immersion may seem simple. But many companies — good companies with great products, services and people – often miss the mark. To help your team understand, embrace and convey your value:

  • Capture in writing what your brand equals and put it in the hands of everyone on your staff
  • Train them how to deliver your message
  • Give them cues to discover opportunities to inject your brand
  • Empower them to help each other monitor and manage their performance
  • Reward them for supporting and promoting it

There are a variety of ways to keep employees engaged and motivated to accomplish goals with your brand in mind, including communicating those goals clearly, continuing education, providing a comfortable and exciting workspace, and celebrating successes.

Take a pulse check now. Ask your team: What is our brand value and what do we stand for? When they answer correctly, treat them to lunch!

Here are some additional resources about creating strong brand ambassadors

Virgin: How to Create a Brand Ambassador 

Forbes: Three Steps for Transforming Employees into Brand Ambassadors

Forbes: Want to Find Brand Ambassadors? Start with your Employees

Entrepreneur: Treat Your Employees Well – They are your Best Brand Ambassadors

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