If you’re a screenwriter, you need to successfully pitch your idea for a new film or TV show to Hollywood producers. Likewise, if you’re a start-up, you need to sell your idea using an original and compelling pitch.
“Good in a room” is a Hollywood term referring to creative people who are experts at pitching their story in high-stakes meetings. I often refer to former MGM Director of Creative Affairs Stephanie Palmer’s book Good in a Room for techniques that Hollywood writers, directors and producers use to get financing for their projects, since these techniques can work well in other business settings too.
But a great pitch is easier said than done, right?
After visiting several technology websites, I often find that I honestly don’t understand what a company does or why anyone would buy a particular product or service offering.
I find this start-up pitch that won the 2011 YouPitch competition refreshingly simple – it’s one example cited by Stephanie Palmer:
“We’re Clear Ear and we’re here to solve the earwax problem. Everyone produces earwax, but for 35 million Americans earwax buildup is so large that it closes the ear canal causing symptoms such as hearing loss and ringing in your ears.
To get treated today, patients undergo a burdensome 45-minute procedure. The patient first puts on a drape as protection from the oncoming mess. A nurse the uses a syringe to shoot water into the ear canal not only once, but 20 times. Worse of all, the nurse can’t see where the water is going. This is a blind procedure causing complication rates as high as 38%. If you’re a nurse or a patient, would you want to go through this long messy procedure?
Enter Clear Ear.
With our patent-pending earwax removal system, nurses can see into the ear canal while injecting water–thus avoiding complications like eardrum puncture. The nurse only has to fill the water supply once, flip the ‘on’ switch and target the earwax. Ten minutes later, all the wax is collected in a disposable container. No messy clean up– it’s quicker, it’s safer, it’s easier. Happier nurse, happier patient.
Clear Ear aims to deliver the solution to 350 million people suffering from earwax problems worldwide.”
If we take apart the Clear Ear pitch, we can isolate the key elements that make this pitch effective. Here are a few observations that you can apply to the business stories you create.
- You immediately understand what the company does.
- The problem they are solving is both clear and relevant.
- It is crafted to appeal to the buyer (remember, it’s about them, not us!).
- Facts and statistics add credibility.
- It uses a conversational tone and simple word choices (not dense, industry jargon).
- It revolves around a core idea, and is not burdened with excessive detail.
- It creates a vision of what the buyer gets if he/she says yes.
- It tells you why, i.e., the benefits (quicker, safer, easier = happier).
Do you have an example of a great technology pitch? If so, please share it and get community feedback!
Cindee specializes in value proposition/messaging development, PR-AR-social and demand generation activities; she is a published author in several outlets, including Harvard Business Review.