One simple tool to help you pitch anything under 15 seconds

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If you can’t tell me what you do in 15 seconds, I’m not buying, I’m not investing, and I’m not interested. When you are a freelance professional, like me, you’ll find it sometimes difficult to explain to people what is it that you do. and what value proposition you are selling. Especially if you have a broad portfolio of interests and the things you do are not traditional jobs like carpenter, taylor or miner. I honestly have to say that the going gets tough when I have to pitch to my parents. After all, they do not quite get the liquid realities of the  job market nowadays. 

I was very happy to discover then one simple tool, Garmine Gallo calls „the message map” that is the ultimate aid when it comes not to only to communicating what you do to your parents but when pitching to the world. The good thing is that the resulting pitch is no longer than 15 seconds. A message map is the visual display of your idea on one page. It is a powerful and easy to use tool that should be a part of your communication arsenal. Building a message map can help you pitch anything (a product, service, company, or idea) in as little as 15 seconds.

First you craft a Twitter-friendly headline. Yes, you heard me well! Twitter friendly means it should not be longer than 140 characters. Make it sweet and short. Universally understood. For me it is:

I help companies and entrepreneurs hone their message. (53 characters)

This is what I do. The headline is the one single overarching message that you want your customers to know about the product or service or value proposition. Ask yourself, “What is the single most important thing I want my listener to know about my [product, service, brand, idea].” Trust me, it’s that simple.

Then you need to support the message with three key benefits. Why? Because the human brain cannot process too many benefits at the same time. Make it important, not grandiose! For me those are:

  1. I use science to make their communication better.
  2. I always put my theories to test.
  3. Clients should expect feedback (sometimes negative) not approval. 

I specifically expressed my methods of working and how we will work. You should also be able to outline the three or, at most, four benefits of your product. Next you simply reinforce the three benefits with stories, statistics, and examples. That is where the Logos I mentioned earlier gets to work. I would usually add that I use cognitive science, the works of neuroscientists and the ancient wisdom of founders of the communication theory. I add that I usually analyze more than 400 pitches annually and help craft 220 of them on average. And that when you look for approval you should go to your family and friends as they will always tell you everything is in order.

You can create a message map for any product or a brand. But start with yourself. Especially when you have found it hard to explain to people what is it that you do. When I was in Slovenia we worked on message maps with all the startups. It was an opening exercise beer every one-on-one session. with the help of message map you can focus on the key messages you want to project in your pitch. Instead of projecting buzzword bingo (also known as bullshit bingo) and key-marketing-bullshit. Amen!