When you visit an event such as MIPTV, you’re making a big investment, not just in time and money but, more importantly, your reputation.
I’ve been going to MIPTV and MIPCOM for more years than I’d care to admit — and I’ve been helping professionals to develop winning pitches for even longer. When people find out that I’m The Pitch Doctor, their first question is invariably, “Can you help me improve my pitch?” because they focus on just that small part of their entire visit.
But in fact, your entire visit to Cannes is a pitch. Every moment you’re there, you’re portraying an image, talking to people you don’t know, and trying to achieve your goal for being there.
So rather than focusing on those few minutes when you’re telling someone about your latest, greatest format, let’s take a look at the bigger picture; so that every moment you invest in MIP is building you a reputation that will pay dividends long into the future.
Secret 1: It’s All About Them
It’s so natural to think about the reason that you’re going to MIP, that you might forget why anyone else is there, or assume they’re there for the same reasons as you. When you’re planning your visit, think not about what you want to achieve but instead about the people you want to meet and what they might want to achieve. Focus on delivering what they need, and you’ll get what you need as a result.
Secret 2: By The Time You Start, It’s Already Too Late
Your pitch starts the moment you decide to attend MIP. Contact people who might be going, or who would be interested to hear that you’re going. Sow the seeds as early as you can. Rather than looking forward to MIP and planning what you’re going to say, trying looking back as though you’re at the end of a successful few days. Specifically, when you think about the people you’re going to meet and plan for what you want them to do.
Secret 3: Steady, Ready, Pitch!
The audience has to be ready to listen before you start speaking. So get their attention first. Pausing before you begin is a sign of control, so take all the time you need. After all, it’s your pitch! And remember that we demonstrate credibility not by talking, but by listening.
Secret 4: Dream The Dream
Your pitch, your idea, was created in a dream world. In order for that dream to become a reality, you need to draw the audience into that dream.
Drawing the audience into your dream with rich, vivid, emotional, sensory language allows you to convey far more than you ever could describe in facts, figures and ‘benefits’. Bring your pitch to life and let your words carry the sights, sounds, feelings, tastes and smells of success.
Secret 5: Mind Your Language
While 93% of your message may be conveyed non-verbally, there is no doubt that your language conveys the raw information that your audience needs to make a decision.
For example, traditional sales training advocated selling benefits rather than features. A nice idea in principle, but let down by poor execution.
The traditional “feature means benefit” is the wrong way round. Try “benefit because feature” instead, and you’ll win more pitches.
And of course, don’t just ‘sell the sizzle’ and forget to include all the facts and figures that support your pitch.
Secret 6: Say It Again, Sam
No doubt you have heard the old presenter’s adage, “Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them again”. Get your message across in as many different ways that you can, and realise all of the different communication channels that you’re not using; the way you dress, the way you walk into the room, what you say in the invitation email all communicate your intention, and when all of those factors are aligned, you multiply the power of your message. Also, don’t expect them to remember everything you say: chances are, yours will be one of many pitches. So make it easy and leave them with a reminder. A postcard with bullet points on will do — just something quick, simple and memorable.
Secret 7: The End… Or Is It?
Never close a meeting with the words, “Well, I’ll wait to hear from you”, or “Give me a call if you’re interested”. It’s not a question of interest; it’s a question of need. Did you meet their need? Quite often, when the answer is “no”, the actual message is “not right now” or “not for me”. So try saying: “I’m going to keep on developing new ideas so I’d very much like to keep in touch with you, now that we’ve made this connection.” Or: “Who else can you introduce me to that might be interested?” And after the pitch, follow up with a personal letter, reminding them of what you discussed and agreed and proposing a next step.
To succeed at an event like MIPTV, don’t just focus on those few, short, centrepiece interactions. Instead, reinforce your purpose with everything you say and do before, during and after the event. That way, your MIPTV will be the curtain raiser to a long and rewarding series, rather than an expensive, one-off performance.
Paul Boross, — aka The Pitch Doctor — specialises in the ‘art and science’ of corporate communication. For more pitching tips, follow him on Twitter; have a look at thepitchdoctor.tv; check out his thepitchingbible.com, or his new book, Pitch Up! Pitch Yourself for the Job of Your Dreams.