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What Makes a Good Pitch (and a Very Bad One)

GOAL DIGGER

278-Blog What Makes a Good Pitch (and a Very Bad One)

Composing the perfect pitch is an art. You have to know yourself, your business, or your offer SO well, and then be able to extract the information that is most important to the person or business you’re pitching. The perfect pitch is engaging and informative, and it inspires interest or better yet, action.

I’ve seen the whole spectrum of pitches land in the Goal Digger Podcast inbox. Some are excellent — They tell me about the potential guest with ideas for their episode, a glance at their audience, and how it all ties into the overall mission and brand of the show. Then there are some really, really terrible pitches. Like I can tell they’re copy and pasted, send out en masse to show after show, sometimes even forgetting to sub in the correct name of the podcast!

Today’s guest knows what makes a great pitch. Jules Pieri is Co-Founder and CEO of the product launch platform called The Grommet. The Grommet is Jules’ third start up, and it was created with the goal to help launch undiscovered products and help them succeed. Do products like FitBit, OtterBox, SodaStream, and S’well sound familiar? Jules and the discovery team at The Grommet have helped make those a household name.

With her experience discovering new and innovative products, you know she’s seen some awesome pitches, and some not-so-awesome. Jules is here to share her advice for a great pitch, especially when it comes to the product world, but also how her advice applies across the board. We’ll also chat about innovation and standing out in a crowded market.

Starting Her Business

When Jules came up with the idea for The Grommet, she was working at the major toy company called Playskool. Through lots of pitches and product launches Jules saw that some of the newest ideas and best ideas never made it to market. Her boss said that these ideas coming from smaller companies are often shot down by major retailers like WalMart and Target, and if they don’t want it, it doesn’t get made. That frustrated Jules.

At her next position as President of a social networking company, the idea of helping new brands launch their products stuck in her mind. Jules and her business partner started making weekly videos introducing new products online. While it wasn’t as refined as it is today, it was the beginning of The Grommet, which would go on to introduce wildly popular products that you probably have in your home right now.

The first four years of the business was establishing themselves in the market as the company who curates new and innovative products. A lot of their spare time was spent considering what they could do to build a reputation, give them a competitive advantage, and establish their brand. Fast forward to now, 11 plus years into the business, and Jules and her team consider over 300 new products a week.

The Anatomy of a Pitch

Jules has seen thousands of pitches for products, and as Entrepreneur in Residence at Harvard Business School, she’s seen even more pitches for business ideas in general. There’s one common mistake that Jules sees frequently, and she admits she’s been guilty of it herself: “You think you have to sound smart and explain a ton about the business, but what’s really more important is just getting the listener into the zip code of caring about what you’re talking about.”

If you’re thinking about your pitch as a Powerpoint presentation, and you’re tempted to cram in a ton of information that appears and feels “smart”, step back and reconsider. Jules now thinks of her own pitches like a board book for kids, with a few words as possible, keeping the explanations simple but the visuals engaging. If your pitch can get the listener to the point of asking questions, you’ve nailed it.

It’s important for your pitch to be memorable. Of course, right? What’s the best method to accomplish this? A couple of stories and a couple of stats that bring it home, “It could be your stats and knowledge of market opportunity, or your specific margins and specific custom acquisition strategy,” Jules said, “And the stories are the ones that when that person goes home later, they want to retell that story to somebody. That’s the big win.”

At this point in the interview, Jules and I workshopped a few pitch strategies together. I even shared some advice I learned from my business coach, Dean Graziosi, and got Jules take on his strategy as someone who sees so many pitches each week. Tune in for the full discussion!

How to Research Helps a Pitch

I can’t tell you how many pitches we receive for The Goal Digger Podcast each week that are clearly unresearched, generic mass emails. The BEST pitches we receive however, include just enough knowledge of the show and the brand to convince us that the pitcher has done their homework, and already knows that their audience, mission, and content align with the show.

I asked Jules for her advice on the level of research that should be done before pitching someone, and she actually has a playbook that she uses for herself in her own pitches. If you can’t start with a warm introduction from a mutual contact, make sure you open your email pitch with something personal. This is not a time to be formulaic — prove that you did the research! It could be something about their background or a news item about them.

Get the point quickly and use “very textured language,” Jules advises, “Don’t try to sound smart, try to sound real.” Jules started a recent pitch with the statement: I am not a nutcase. Now, she couldn’t start every pitch with that, but she knew from her research that the recipient was funny and would appreciate that kind of introduction.

The bulk in the middle of the email is about the promise you will deliver. Keep in mind, you need to tell the reader or listener how you will serve them, before you ask them to serve YOU.

The close is simple and actionable. It proves that you’re not going to waste their time and that you respect the recipient. You’re reaching out to someone you don’t know and asking something from them, so show you respect the ask and their time.

More from This Episode

Jules is the author of How We Make Stuff Now, and she has so much insight to share not only on pitching, but also about actually selling and communicating all the greatness your product or service brings to the world without bogging down your explanation. Plus, what an Amazon executive said to Jules during her pitch about being a missionary versus a mercenary in business, and why not landing the Amazon investment was a blessing in disguise.


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by Jenna Kutcher 

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