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Believing in your work is not a tactic

Emily Swinkels
Digital Strategist
In the agency world we are constantly pitching people. New clients, existing clients, internal stakeholders, ourselves, you get the picture. But pitching ideas isn’t just for salespeople and agencies. If you work for a living you are almost certainly doing some sort of idea pitching on a daily basis, formally or informally. Knowing how to successfully get your ideas across is a skill that will pay for itself time and time again.
My bow tie means I know what i'm talking about
Oren Klaff is the author of a book called Pitch Anything, and has successfully pitched half a billion dollars in business. He appeared last year on one of my favorite web series called ChaseJarvisLive. I have been familiar with Jarvis’ photography since my days in the action sports industry, and he has started bringing on really smart people from the business, marketing and art world to talk about their crafts. Klaff’s episode is one of the best ones I’ve seen as far as actionable ideas is concerned (fair warning, it’s long, Klaff has an abrasive personality and it’s full of NSFW language, but if you can get through that you’ll learn a lot, or hey, just read the rest of the post and you’ll get the gist).

He breaks down the pitch into a couple of key ideas:

YOUR WORK IS THE PRIZE

If you take away one thing from this whole episode it’s this: “Believing in your work is not a $%#!@ tactic.” If you’re not your own biggest fan, who else is going to be? Your work is the key piece of any pitch. You have to believe deep down that what you’re doing is what whoever you’re pitching needs. It’s not that they are giving you the opportunity to speak with them, it’s that you are giving them the opportunity to see something that they need. A small, but subtle, shift in your attitude going in can make a huge difference in the success of your pitch.
This of course relies on one thing: that your work is actually as good as you say it is. eROI has built a mini-empire based on being able to deliver work that’s as good or better than the huge promises we make.

BE DIFFERENT INSTEAD OF TRYING TO BE BETTER

One of my favorite things I’ve ever heard is someone saying “you’re never going to out-Amazon Amazon.” Meaning that you can’t build a huge network of goods and services, sell them super cheap online and take over the retail industry, because Amazon has already done it. You missed your chance. Make something that’s good, and that’s different than what anyone else is doing. That will make you stand out much more than trying to be incrementally better than someone else.

BE FAST

Get to the point, tell people what you can offer, and what you are expecting in return. Important people are busy and their time is their commodity. Don’t waste it.

Be Fast

BE CONCRETE

Bring in data, graphs, evidence, anything really that can support what you’re pitching. There is a small portion of everyone’s brain that is afraid of change, and afraid of failure. Take away as many of those concerns as possible up front, and set yourself up for success down the road.


DOING THESE THINGS SHOULD SHOW IMMEDIATE IMPROVEMENT IN YOUR PITCH GAME, AND LIKE ANY SKILL YOU’LL GET BETTER AND BETTER AS YOU DO IT MORE.

Emily Swinkels
Emily Swinkels, Digital Strategist at eROI.