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The Right Pitch

This is absolutely fundamental to winning the marketing game, and it's probably 90% of what I do. Knowing what your customers want from you ought to be the foundation of everything you do. Most companies will tell you that it's their primary guiding light.

So how come so many of them get it wrong?

Let me give you an example. A few years back I worked with a very large holiday ownership company. They operated hundreds of superb resorts all over the world, and they sold them on a sophisticated timeshare business. Here's the basis of their pitch, made to people who typically took holidays abroad twice a year:

If you don't buy

  • Over ten years you're going to spend in excess of £20,000 on your holidays
  • At the end of those ten years you'll have some photographs and some nice memories

If you do buy

  • Over ten years you'll spend about the same amount
  • At the end of those ten years you'll have better photographs and better memories
  • And a lifetime of free holidays to look forward to

This was explained in great detail, with plenty of supporting figures and statistics. The logic is irrefutable, isn't it? So why did only 5% of prospects buy?

What do we know about these people? They love holidays, and they're willing to spend a lot of money on them.

And there's where the pitch fell down. Where's the joy in statistics?

Forgive me, but cold logic says there's pretty much always something better to do with your money than spend it on a holiday. They buy those holidays because they love the joy of it all, from browsing the brochures to enjoying tapas on the balcony. As soon as we persuaded the company to change the pitch to painting pictures of the superb resorts, the beautiful locations and "What you can't see on that picture is that there's a fantastic little beach bar at the bottom of that leafy pathy there", the conversions soared.

Business-to-business is surprisingly similar, though the buyer's motive is often more deeply hidden. If you'll allow me to brag for a moment, I'm rather good at spotting those motives. And sometimes they can be pretty surprising. Just recently I helped Forth Capital to start the process of changing their approach to their clients. The very first time they aired that pitch in Dubai they produced a result that their founder, Tom Tracy, called "The most successful sales initiative we've ever done."

OK, thank you. End of bragging session. For now.

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