We’re here today boys and girls to learn something very specific:
How to pitch an idea and prompt people to do what you want them to do the most.
Here’s a table of contents containing the 7 tactics that’ll help you pitch your idea and grab attention. Whether that be for an elevator sales pitch, a business idea presentation pitch, or anything requiring you to CONVINCE someone to do something you want them to do (buying your product, investing in your business, taking a decision..). Feel free to jump to a specific section to grab the meaty details:
1. Know the ask
2. Pinpoint the problem
3. Offer a solution
4. Use headlines to sell
5. Give them reasons to buy (your idea)
6. Use key authority marks to build trust (and persuade)
7. Use sensory phrases to make them feel something
So what is this “idea pitch” stuff? Let’s dive into it……
What are pitches and why are they so important?
A pitch is a set of activities intended to persuade someone to buy a product or take a specific course of action. The job of a pitch is to get people sucked into your idea in the first place.
If you’re like me, chances are high that you’ve already had your share of ideas rejected by clients, investors or key decision makers.
Look, here’s the brutal truth about 99% of pitches:
On the other hand, successful pitches look a tiny bit more like this:
See the difference?
This post will cure your own business and the whole world (OK maybe not that time) of lame, slouchy pitches so that your ideas land in people’s hearts and brains, and not in their garbage cans.
How to pitch your idea: 7 steps that’ll help you prompt people to do what you want them to do.
Step #1: Know the ask
If you’re willing to sell your idea, you have to get started with being veeeery specific on your goal, which is:
To prompt your audience to take ACTION.
And why is that Clemence, you might ask?
You can’t focus on what needs to be done if you don’t know what you want to achieve.
Ding ding ding.
Before even thinking about pitching your idea, answer this question:
What do you want? What is your goal?
This is the first set of questions I ask my coaching clients. Most of the time, you’ll meet with people who have many of ideas and plans but when you ask what they run after, they are kinda clueless. Be laser-targeted on what you want to achieve because when you specify your goals, you are creating for yourself a precise blueprint guiding your steps, tracking them toward the outcome you actually want.
So, what do you want when you pitch your idea?
Get a YES! From your boss (what is he *specifically going to say YES! to?)
Get prospects to buy your product, proposal, or request more information
Score your first meeting with an investor to get financial backing
Step #2: Pinpoint the problem
Nobody cares about you or your idea. People care about how you can solve THEIR problems.
What are your audience’s top 3 problems?
Which pain does your idea alleviate?
What are the top 3 success metrics your audience measure?
Nobody cares about you, people care about how you can solve their problems.
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Step #3: Offer a solution
Nailing an idea pitch is when you successfully explain an opportunity you have identified (read: solution) and demonstrate why it is better than the other ones that already exist.
Here’s how Airbnb did it when they built their first pitch deck:
Step #4: Use headlines
Headlines help you to 1) focus and 2) you get your foot in the door with potential clients, partners, whether on the phone, by email or in person. Headlines that are effective must grab your audience and create enough curiosity to cause them to want to know more about what you have to offer. Whether that be a product, service… or an idea.
I believe headlines should strictly focus on answering these two questions:
What do you do? (read: What do you help me do?)
Why should I care?
Here are examples of kickass headlines than span across three different industries:
Unbounce, a tool that allows marketers to increase their campaigns ROI by building, publishing and testing landing pages:
What do you help me do: build, publish and A/B test landing pages
Why should I care? I don’t need I.T. skills to do that, nice.
Plated, a food delivery service company that makes it easy for you to cook a fantastic gourmet meal in thirty minutes or less:
What do you help me do: create chef-designed, fresh recipes
Why should I care? Because it’s already pre-portioned and quick to make
Here’s another headline from ridesharing service Blablacar:
What do you help me do: find drivers with empty seats when I need to travel
Why should I care? Because it’s a trusted platform
See how it works? Apply this one-two punch formula to your idea and try to come up with various answers for the “Why should i care” part. It’s a good exercice that’ll help you present your idea in a way that benefits to those you want to sell it to.
If you don’t know how to get started, use my favorite headline formulas:
[Idea name / service / product] helps [Target Audience] to [Result] so they can [Benefit]
[Take this action] + [Result wanted] + [Time period]
[Take this action] + [Result wanted] + [Benefit]
[Take this action] + [Result wanted] + [Address the objections]
[PPTPOP] helps [small businesses] to [build irresistible presentations] so they can [persuade, impress and close more deals
[Using growth hacking techniques] will [x2 our traffic] [without having to spend a penny on marketing] [in 3 months]
[Re-organizing our company this way] will [speed-up the decision-making process] [without creating a mess]
The cool thing with formulas is that they can be shifted ! People value very different things so depending on who you’re taking to, you’ll have to shift your focus on what matters to them.
Step #5: Give them reasons to buy (your idea)
People don’t buy your idea, they buy how your idea changes their life. Be laser-focused on providing them specific, solid good reasons. Said differently, tell them EXACTLY how it will benefit them or get out of here.
You must show people what they can be.
Here are a few questions that’ll help you find good reasons and answer the “why should I care” question we just viewed in point #4.
Does it make them feel beautiful or desirable?
Does it make their life (more) comfortable?
Does it make them look less lame?
Does it make them popular?
Does it require less effort from them for the same work?
Does it require less money from them for the same work?
Does it save them money?
Does it make them more likable?
Does it make them rich?
Does it make them be the first?
Will it get people talking about them?
Does this make them look like an authority figure?
Here’s a quick video where author Carmine Gallo explains how to build a message map that distills your story. He uses the example of Lush, a handmade cosmetics company, and comes up with sub-messages that help highlighting the brand benefits.
You can use this message map technique to list those reasons that’ll help people buy your idea.
Step #6: Use key authority marks to build trust (and persuade)
Cialdini breaks down persuasion into various principles that can be seen as “buttons” every person has. Here are three of these buttons you can push the right way to help you sell your ideas
Authority – follow the leader
We are persuaded by those who have higher social value.
If your doctor tells you to do something, you’ll listen and take his advice because his experience and expertise trumps your own. Use the names of higher-ups to get people’s attention.
Social Proof – we have an innate tendency to follow the herd
Show the support of similar pears: it is much easier to convince after you told them who was already on board. Think: who has already vouched for my idea?
Scarcity – we want what we can’t have
Scarcity is another super cool persuasion “button”. When we are offered the chance to acquire something that is rare and will soon disappear, we are more susceptible to persuasion.
What is scarcity in screen shots:
People don’t like to be told they can’t be part of something.
Do not take part of this if …
Don’t accept this idea if….
This isn’t for you if … (you haven’t the balls to implement)
This program won’t work for you if …
Step #7: Use sensory phrases to make them feel something
Make your audience see what you see, feel what you feel, taste what you taste, smell what you smell, and hear what you hear.
Here are a few examples:
Does it feel like (situation they’re in…)?
Can you imagine (idea turned into solution that solves their problem)?
Let me show you…
Let me tell you…
You don’t need to…
To get your brain juice going and spice up your sales pitches, check out these great lists of sensory words and phrases:
Conclusion – how to pitch your idea
Coming up with ideas is easy, selling them to strangers is hard. You can have the world’s best product, service or idea but if you can’t communicate about it effectively, you have nothing.
Because it’s not (just) about having a great idea.
It’s not (just) about having a killer pitch that ticks all the right boxes.
Ideas demand change because their application means something different will take place.
How to pitch your idea effectively gets started with understanding your audience’s perspective (pinpointing THEIR problems, providing THEM solutions, giving THEM reasons to buy…). How do the people you are trying to pitch think about the world? Be laser-focused on considering the perspective of the person you’re trying to pitch because the better your idea pitch fits into the needs, problems, and desires, the greater your odds of being successful.
Harvard Business Review – How to pitch a brilliant idea
Scott Berkun – How to pitch an idea
Influence: the psychology of persuasion – A classic, must-have book on the psychology of persuasion. What you’ll learn: the core principles of persuasion + exactly how to use them so you can influence and persuade people. Highly recommended.
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Learn how to pitch your ideas in 7 steps
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The Non-Sucky Persuasion Checklist. Does your pitch hit the mark or are you boring people like every one else? Check out the 30 most critical elements that’ll help you convince and make a fantastic impression.
The 19 Human Desires and Wants that are hard-wired in every one of us… and responsible for more sales than all other human wants combined.
2 Foolproof Formulas to craft intros that stick and sell. These two easy, three-step formulas will help you craft persuasive biz intros and headlines in minutes.
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