8.28.2014

Winding Up for the Pitch

peach cobbler
Is your mouth watering at the mere thought of the sublime fragrance of succulent, sun-warmed peaches interwoven with brown sugar and a hint of fresh vanilla bean and freshly ground cinnamon? Ahhh .... yes? Are you concerned with whether the restaurant owner paid $1.84 or $2.03 per pound for those peaches? Yeah, didn't think so ...

Whenever I hear the phrase "I need to pick your brain" I think "BLOG POST!" Usually the brain picker has a very specific question related to their business or cause, but strip away the specifics and the principles are useable for darn near any communication ... whether you're looking for a job, pitching a product, or just writing a sternly worded letter to your homeowner's association.

A little background: one of my dear friends is launching her own business. Very exciting stuff. I can't share more due to national security restrictions (kidding, she's just still in prep mode), but it's a solid concept that she'll take out into the world very, very soon. So, said adorable friend comes to me with this query:

"How do we prep for the big pitch on a super-tight budget?" 

This can be tricky. When you're low on capital it's tempting to go cheap on marketing. But if your print or digital marketing comes off as "budget," your audience starts getting antsy. They start wondering if you've really thought this whole thing through, are you fly-by-night, do you go single-ply instead of double which is both cruel and wasteful, are you stirring up more questions than you are solutions ... not exactly a confidence building exercise for you or the audience.

Take the time to build thoughtful, compelling marketing messages and package them professionally -- whether in a letter, with a website, or with a gorgeous printed piece -- and you'll find your audience takes you far more seriously and is far more likely to do what you want ... whether that's buy something, agree to something, or give you a raise!

Here's my advice how to Land the Deal on a Shoestring Budget:

Adopt this mindset: you're not selling ... you're telling a story. In order to really connect with your audience, you must package your story in a way that lets them see themselves with a better life. I stumbled upon this video from a TED conference that sums up this concept so well that I want you to hop off my blog and go watch it ... but then you have to come right back. Watch at least to around the 5 minute mark (where he talks about how Apple creates their story by turning the message on its head,) but I encourage you to watch the whole thing (my favorite quote: "Martin Luther King did not give the 'I have a plan' speech. No, it was the 'I have a DREAM speech.')

Take care of the basics. Grab testimonials from your current customers and incorporate the best ones into your marketing materials. Start collecting statistics on everything: your sales, your customer satisfaction rate, your customer retention and loyalty ... whatever you are doing, you can collect stats on it. Why are testimonials and stats so important? Because people are more willing to try something if someone else has vetted it first and is happy with the results.

Get very solid on what makes you better than your competition. What are you doing differently -- and way better -- than your competitors? The question of "why should I go with you over them?" will come up, whether you're giving a presentation or someone's just reading your letter. Have a compelling answer.

Remember you have two audiences: the gatekeeper and the end user. So, let's say you're trying to convince the owner of a restaurant (gatekeeper/person who has buying power) to buy your brand of fresh peaches for their world-renowned peach cobbler. Yes, you need to address the owner about how your exquisite, farm-fresh peaches in plenty of time daily to prepare for the lunch crowd, and for three cents less than your competitor. Guess what? The folks tying on their napkins at lunch (end user) could care less that your peaches cost the restaurant less. Nope, they want some hot-from-the-oven peach cobbler that makes them feel a little shaky it's so good. You must appeal to both audiences to land the deal.

Flip your message on its head. Don't get so caught up in your awesomeness that you fail to tell your target audience how your product makes their life better. Talk about their needs first, then about how you fill that need.

Budget for an excellent marketing professional to help you craft your story. This is not a sales pitch. Hire me, hire another qualified professional, just hire someone to help you pull together your brand story professionally. I believe more businesses go up in smoke because they put more money into their systems or supplies and failed to invest in excellent marketing. Guess what? It doesn't matter how amazing your product is if no one knows about it. True story. Companies that see the value and invest in marketing are more successful. Hook up with a great marketer ... it's worth every penny.

There ya go. My brain dump for August 2014. Totally just saved you the cost of a Starbucks, but potentially created a craving for peach cobbler. I shall not apologize.

XO ---
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