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Do Your Homework, Make Your Pitch

Christopher Lloyd

Christopher Lloyd

Just having great ideas isn’t enough to reach success. You must also find ways to communicate your thoughts, craft a messaging vehicle that is the most effective, and appeal to others so they can also buy into your brilliant plans.

In short, you’ve got to be able to pitch.

Most people who’ve operated in a B2B setting are familiar with the basics of a pitch meeting. The pitcher is responsible for making the pitch, while the pitchee sits there and listens, then offers feedback.

If you’re not good at pitching — like me — then Garrett Heath has some advice for you. His article over at PR Daily is titled, “What raising chickens has taught me about pitching.” Delivered with not a little humor, it also contains some excellent advice.

His article is specifically about being a freelance writer pitching story ideas to editors and websites. But the wisdom applies to all sorts of business situations.

Here’s a distillation of his advice:

  • First, take your time and do your homework long before the pitch meeting is even scheduled. He suggests trolling and lot of websites and subscribing to RSS feeds for pertinent information.
  • If you’ve never pitched to a company before, gentle hands work better. Once you’ve established a rapport you can try to be more outgoing, but for starters keep your engagement courteous and professional.
  • Realize that not every outfit is looking for the same thing. Don’t try to feed the same material to different companies without at least modifying it for their particular needs and tastes. If you’re pitching a young start-up, hoary speeches about the good old days of the industry are not going to cut it.
  • Be persistent. A pitch may not work the first time, or the second, or even the 17th. Don’t view negative reactions as rejections, but rather opportunities to fine-tune your pitch for the next potential client.
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