Reset. Restart – Are you Pitching It Right? 

A summary of the Pitching It Right workshop by workshop leader and programme mentor Lucy Paine.

Reset. Restart is a new programme offering free support for Sussex businesses who want to structure their planning and tighten their business model.

Delivery is by Brighton Chamber and always possible in partnership with the Business & IP Centre Brighton & Hove.

It’s been a year when – for obvious reasons – many of our businesses have faced issues they’ve never had to cope with before. Now, as we begin to emerge from the damage wreaked by the pandemic, it’s time to look ahead. always possible have teamed up with the Brighton Chamber and the new Business and Intellectual Property Centre (BIPC) at Jubilee library to offer a free support to businesses.

The Reset. Restart programme is a space for any Sussex business to ask questions, play with new tools, and to share wisdom. Through a mix of free 1:1 and virtual group gatherings, entrepreneurs are building resilience and develop the practical skills needed to survive and, ultimately, to thrive.

Every few weeks we focus on a different area of the Business Model Canvas, bringing speakers with a story in their area, together with experienced and new businesses who want to structure their planning and tighten their business model. The sessions have been lively and inclusive, and there have been some great take-aways. We thought we’d share them with you here.

These posts are written by our associate Lucy Paine who is one of the programme mentors and is leading the workshops and networking sessions.

Session One: Pitching It Right

Our first two sessions focussed upon how you explain what you do in such a way that your customers not only understand it but also want to buy from you. It’s a task that you never complete, your pitch is a living thing, but here are the top 6 tips to get you started;

  • Have a clear value proposition – or two

Get your Business Model Canvas drawn out – on a whiteboard, big piece of paper – and start with the Value Propositions section. If you can put it on a whiteboard or pinned to the wall as a permanent feature do – your canvas is a living business model which you should revisit regularly and have in front of you to remind you of the priorities and goals.

You might have more than one value proposition but defining each one in a sentence is where to start. BMC is an open-source tool – you can find lots of help on how to work through each block and plenty of examples to focus your efforts.

When first starting use sticky notes and write down every value proposition you can think of, then put them in order and get it down to the core – there might be some long tail ones to save for when you have more time and money.

It’s not easy – you want to tell the world all the details of why what you do could be useful to everyone, and how wonderful you are at it, but less is more and trying to market to everyone is a route to failure. As Seth Godin would say – lead your tribe and create your movement.

  • Use plain English

Now you’ve defined your value proposition how can you explain it clearly and succinctly to someone you’ve just met? Avoiding acronyms, focus on benefits not features and sprinkle in why you love what you do.

Remember, it’s your business, you know it too well – other people don’t, so take a step back, practise it lots at networking events.

A good pitch creates content for your website, investor deck, social media = this is not just for networking. Being able to clearly articulate what you do, and why that’s interesting/ important, is an art that will reap many rewards.

  • Check your energy

55% of what you say is body language – and while online networking is great it can often mean you’re slumped on your sofa. Stand up, move around, and use that energy to make the power of your pitch so much more than just the 7% of the words (the other 38% is your tone).

This also links into your language – if you’ve over engineered the pitch to cram as much in as you can so it no longer sounds authentic your audience will switch off. Your pitch has to represent you, and the experience your solution delivers. Keep your language, tone and body language aligned to the values.

  • Know your customers

If you’re already selling talk to your customers – ask what they love about what you do, what you could do better, what else they’d like to buy from you. Nurture them into ambassadors, early adopters are powerful marketing tools and can be a part of your product development journey.

If you’ve not got a customer yet build your profile – more on that in a future workshop – and create a series of personas from which you can map out their priorities/ goals/ aspirations and where your solution makes a difference.

  • Do your research

Knowledge is power, know your market, competitors and customers by tapping into the amazing free access to databases at the library. Google is not the answer to every question and market intelligence databases pull together multiple sources to create a complete and accurate perspective.

Don’t guess what’s going on, use this resource to get the facts that will empower you to make informed decisions that drive your business forward.

And this isn’t a one-off exercise, it is an essential task for at least every quarter – sign up for competitor newsletters, follow partners on social media – be a part of the momentum in your sector to allow you to make the right decisions and connections.

  • Keep learning

Stay curious – making new connections, attending networking, joining groups, get a mentor and make continual personal development a core priority. It is very easy to be busy working in your business, to grow you need to allocate time for working on the business.