Even though we may not want to admit it, there is a simple truth that governs our lives. It can be summed up in the following four words:
Life is about pitching.
In nearly everything that we do, we are trying to persuade some other person to take some type of action. This is true whether we are trying to convince a prospect to become a paying customer or trying to convince our spouse to choose this vacation destination over that vacation destination. We as humans can accomplish little alone, so we need to use our sales and pitching skills to turn our dreams into realities.
In the business context, this is a given. We are constantly pitching ourselves to our colleagues, bosses, and customers. It is a never-ending game, so it is in your best interest to focus on improving your craft. Regardless of your career goals, you are incentivized to learn some of the most effective strategies to get our message across.
As you can tell from the title of this post, we at Dubb believe that there is one trend that you’ll need to recognize. It isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it is going to be more relevant in the coming years.
Ultimately, the future of pitching is video. Video pitching is an extremely effective way to connect with your audience—regardless of their location. You can show off your personality and make a deep, personal connection with a prospect. You can creatively show off your product or service to a brand new audience. Better yet, you can even give your audience a behind-the-scenes look at your company, thereby building trust and convincing your audience to take a chance on you.
Pitching through video can be a true game-changer for your business. Because of this, we want to use this time to take a deep dive into this idea. Specifically, we want to discuss common pitching strategies to the present day, why video is such a huge deal when pitching your product or service, and some helpful pitching tips that you can leverage when pitching over video. At the end of this guide, you will have a much better understanding of why the future of pitching is video and how you can capitalize on this trend.
Pitching to This Point
To better understand why video pitching is so important at this point, it is helpful to go back and time and recognize how pitching was done. Yes, there is a dramatic change between pitching now and decades ago. But you only need to look at the world five years before now to see how pitching has changed.
Before today, pitching involved a significant amount of in-person communication. That whole idea about the elevator pitch? It was more prevalent than you may think. Entrepreneurs, salespeople, marketers, and others only had a few seconds to share who they were, what their company was about, and how it could help the person being pitched. They had to be concise, as the average time for these pitches was less than one minute.
In other circumstances, these same entrepreneurs, salespeople, and marketers would attend formal pitch meetings, whether it was with a venture capitalist or prospect. They would arrive with thick binders of materials and distribute them to the meeting attendees. More recently, these people pitching their product or service would rely on a slide deck and perhaps a demo of their product. Ultimately, however, the pitch was done in-person, in a formal setting, and somewhat relied on technology.
And lest we forget, the cold call was seen as an effective way to pitch your product or service. It may have been less effective than the in-person pitches above, but companies still saw it as a great way to find new customers. Those individuals cold calling would only have a few seconds to make an impression. Often, it wouldn’t work. But in the rare instance, a cold call could lead to a paying customer.
Those individuals who pitch in these ways—particularly in-person pitches—can still find success. After all, business is about personal relationships. Looking a prospect in the eye and explaining how you can help them can go a long way. Not only is the prospect listening intently to your words, but your tone and body language send strong signals. In the best-case scenario, that signal is that you are confident, composed, and certain that your product or service will help them. And in the worst-case scenario? You appear nervous, can’t properly explain the value that you are providing, or even forget your prospect’s first name.
In sum, these “old ways” of pitching aren’t going away. They will still be extremely important. If you just started a startup and are looking for capital, you are likely going to need to pitch in-person. If you are trying to convert a significant prospect into a paying customer, you may need to step out of the office and visit that prospect on its own turf. If you work for a boss who won’t change his or her ways? You may need to do some cold calling.
There are plenty of examples where these types of pitches can work. So if you can master these old-school methods of pitching, you will be well on your way to accomplishing your business goals.
The Game Has Changed
This background is crucial to understand why the game has changed. And boy has it ever changed.
We are living in a world where it has become very easy to start a business (at least on paper). There are plenty of resources to help you get started, whether that is incorporating your new company on LegalZoom, releasing your product on ProductHunt, or finding potential partners on CoFoundersLab. Software has become more affordable, and because of this, barriers to entry have fallen. If you have an idea for a business, you can literally get started in a day or two.
Beyond that, ambitious individuals who create and release a product into the world can leverage incubators, accelerators, and venture capital firms. There is a whole support network that can help guide these companies from founding to IPO.
This is an inspiring message to eager entrepreneurs all over the world. It is great that we are in the age of the wantrepreneur. Accompanying this is a dramatic increase in the number of pitch competitions. You can click on this link to see what I am talking about. All over the world, there are pitch competitions for young, growing startups. Often, these pitching competitions present an opportunity to not only talk about your product or service but to win some cold, hard cash.
Along with this, pitches are getting much more specific.
Traditionally speaking, pitching has always been about presenting a problem, a large opportunity, a well-thought-out solution, and a team that can execute that solution. Once again, this sort of pitching hasn’t gone away. It is still valuable. That said, it is part of the “old school” type of pitching.
Today, pitching has become much more sophisticated. The art of the pitch is more focused on several important factors. Founders must be focusing on a niche problem with a large addressable market. The team must be able to communicate, navigate, innovate, and execute on that vision. The market must be right for the new venture and investors want to see traction and social proof.
In sum, the pitch has become more action-packed. Investors are looking for more specifics and you need to deliver them clearly and concisely. Doing this, you’ll have a chance of accomplishing your specific goals. But if you fail to do this? You will find it difficult, let alone impossible, to meet or exceed those same goals.
Pitch competitions are great ways to introduce your product or service. In-person pitches are also going to be important for the foreseeable future. The real game-changer, though?
It is the fact that we can use video to connect with our audiences while pitching whenever we want.
We don’t need to wait to enter a pitch competition. We don’t need access to the best venture capital firms on Sand Hill Road. And during the pitching process, video helps us better persuade our audiences—at scale. Whether you just started your own startup or are looking to find new investors for your Series A round, we can rely on video to take our businesses to the next level.
There are several reasons why video is so powerful in the pitching process. The three most important come down to visuals, story, access, and scale.
Let’s start with the visuals. No matter our background or personal circumstances, all humans are naturally attracted to images. This is because of the way that our brains are wired. We process visuals more than 60,000 times faster than we can process text. Along with this, approximately 90 percent of the information our brains pick up is visual. Even if we prefer to read text, whether it is a good old-fashioned book or an email, our evolutionary brains make it so that we rapidly process and remember visuals.
This is seen in recent research. There have been plenty of studies that show people are more likely to recall a video ad than a text-based ad. One survey by Kaltura found that 80 percent of respondents believe that video conveys more powerful messages than written communication. I could go on and on, but the point remains that we are hard-wired to enjoy the visuals.
From visuals, there is a story. Video offers you a tremendous opportunity to share stories when you are pitching. To reiterate, pitching has become much more sophisticated and there is an increasing emphasis on “the numbers.” You cannot ignore this shift in the paradigm. Nevertheless, these stringent demands do not mean that you should ignore the story in your pitch. On the contrary, if you can incorporate and weave in story and numbers, you can capitalize on a truly potent combination.
Ever since we were hunters and gatherers near the campfire, humans have been attracted to stories. Stories give our life meaning and help us learn more about ourselves. Today, we can see this in everything from the latest Star Wars film to the influencer showing us around her home in Shanghai. Video is a natural tool to tell stories. No video story is boring and you are only limited by your creativity.
Access and Scale
Visuals and stories are central to the power of video. At this point, however, one thought could be entering your mind. That thought could be something like the following:
“Pitching is often a person-to-person sport, whether you are speaking about your company at a pitch competition or are meeting with a high-profile investor in a boardroom. Why, then, is video so different than in-person pitching? After all, visuals and story are present in many in-person pitches. What makes video different?”
You are onto something. First, I would respond that video and in-person pitching are not mutually exclusive. You can do some incredibly creative things with video at an in-person pitch. I will further describe this below.
That said, there is a larger point here. Video pitching is so unique in that it lets you leverage visuals and stories at scale. Moreover, through the power of the Internet, there are few (if any) barriers. You can use video to pitch to prospects, clients, investors, or others—all whenever you want.
For example, let’s say that you want to pitch a game-changing new product that you’ve developed for your business. You and your colleagues are extremely excited about the product. Not only that, but you are counting on the product to help build up your brand equity, convert warm prospects into paying customers, and perhaps even help you raise your next venture round.
Yes, you will want to take your fair share of in-person meetings if you’re looking for venture money. That said, relying on video pitching provides a wealth of benefits in this scenario. You get to capitalize on the awe-inspiring scale of the Internet. From the comfort of your office, you can pitch to billions of people, whether your potential audience is on YouTube, Facebook, or another platform. You can even go further by using advanced targeting on platforms like Facebook to place your pitch video in front of a discretely targeted audience. The choice is yours.
In sum, the consequences of this are massive. Access and scale make video pitching a force to be reckoned with. From the comfort of your own home or office, you can pitch to countless people around the world, which can lead to some tantalizing results.
Some Best Practices for Pitching with Video
The first half of this post gave you a look at why the future of pitching is video. Granted, video isn’t going to replace each and every pitch. In-person pitching will still exist, whether you are trying to convert a client at their offices or actually pitch to your boss in an elevator. But having said that, video pitching is the future and it is definitely in your interest to get started today.
Because of this, I want to spend the second half of this post sharing some best practices that you can rely on when pitching with video.
To reiterate, one of the best things about video, in general, is that there are few (if any) rules. But just because there are few rules doesn’t mean that you should follow some basic, tried and true first principles.
These first principles exist for a reason. They are found in the most successful video pitches. Truthfully, there is no need to reinvent the wheel here. By following these first principles, some of which you can find in the included video from Venture Summit West, you will be in a terrific position to leverage video pitching for all that it’s worth.
Rehearsal For Real Life
For the first best practice, I want to mention something that combines both the power of video pitching and the long-lasting existence of in-person pitching.
One of the most effective parts about video is that there are unlimited opportunities to pitch. Clearly, you can keep creating different videos for different audiences. But by “unlimited opportunities to pitch,” I also mean in the same video. There is absolutely nothing wrong with finishing a video pitch, hitting the delete button, and recording it again. In fact, this is an extremely healthy exercise that you should leverage.
Video pitching may not come naturally to many of us. Not only can be it be surprisingly difficult to speak on camera, but we may find ourselves rambling or delivering an unclear pitch. Video helps us correct all of this. We can review our “draft,” make some changes, re-record, and continue the cycle. Along with this, we can start sending our pitch to close friends, colleagues, customers, reporters, or even investors for feedback. Once again, we incorporate that feedback into our future pitch.
At the end of this process, you’ll have a clean, polished, and perfected pitch that you can use in the real-world. You can also create several versions of it. For example, you can take your polished pitch and adapt it into a 30-second elevator pitch. You can also make it a minute-long pitch that you use at a networking event or bar.
Whatever the case may be, sharpening up your pitch through video can lead to better video pitches and in-person pitches. You will notice that you will be more confident when pitching. You won’t freeze up or choke when you are presenting in real life. And from all of this, you will start to notice that your pitches get more positive feedback.
In sum, you won’t want to forego this opportunity.
Favor Simplicity Over Complexity
When you are pitching with video, it is all too easy to let your pitch go on and on. There are essentially no marginal costs when shooting video. Want to spend just a few more minutes talking about your product or service? You can certainly do so (unless you are running out of storage).
The bigger question, however, is whether you should do so. In almost every case, the answer is a clear no. Extending your pitch for another 30 seconds or a few minutes can mean the difference between success and failure.
At first, this may seem counterintuitive. You may think, “I just need to add this detail or that detail. Without them, my audience isn’t going to have a complete understanding of my business or product.” And while it may be easy to think that, you have to ask yourself a follow-up question. That question is “At what cost?”
The fact of the matter is that our attention spans have shrunk. The precise reason for it can be argued, but this is a trend that isn’t going away. We have become busier, and because of this, our time has a higher premium. Whether you are pitching to key prospects on LinkedIn or are emailing a video pitch to a handful of investors, you want to get the most bang for your buck. In other words, you want to pack in the most valuable content in the least amount of time.
To be honest, being concise is difficult. It takes some time to boil down your product or service to its core. You’ll need to spend time refining and tightening up your pitch. It’s a natural part of the process, so don’t be frustrated if it is taking you longer than you expected.
In the end, however, spending time trimming down and distilling your video pitch will pay off in spades. You’re able to pack the largest punch without wasting your viewers’ time.
Create Tight Feedback Loops
I alluded to this when speaking about refining your pitch, but it is worth exploring in more detail. As you likely know, one of the best things about digital marketing (and the Internet in general) is that you’re able to build incredibly tight feedback loops. This is accomplished through analytics and the swift response from your team. By creating these tight feedback loops, you can serve better and more relevant content to your audience.
Because of this, tight feedback loops are critical in the video pitching process. What you want to do is gather objective feedback on your video pitch and use that feedback to alter your future pitches.
In the old world of pitching, it would be hard to get objective feedback. Most of the feedback would be a yes or no from your audience. If you received a no and wanted substantive feedback, you could sometimes get it (although you run the risk that the feedback wasn’t representative of what a large audience would think). Essentially, it was more of a guessing game than objective, substantive feedback.
The world has changed with video pitching. Here, you can look at cold, hard facts when you are sending video pitches online. Whether you use a service like Dubb or something else, you can rely on a wealth of analytics about your video pitches. For example, you can see statistics like average time watched, number of total viewers, reaction rates, and more.
You may need to spend some time analyzing which analytics matter most for the overall goal of your pitch. Nonetheless, the idea is to use these analytics as a baseline when creating future pitches. You don’t want to be a slave to your data, but you will certainly want to use it to create a tight feedback loop. Try to make the loop tighter and tighter so that you are constantly iterating on a rapid basis.
Step Into Your Audience’s Shoes
This is a great first principle that you should follow in virtually every part of your business. From designing your product or service to even creating your corporate culture, empathy is an extremely critical skill in business.
Naturally, you will need to step into your audience’s shoes when pitching with video. There are several mini-steps here.
First, you’ll need to identify your specific audience. This can be more difficult than you anticipate. You may want to get granular here, determining who exactly you are trying to reach with your video pitch. For example, if you are looking to use a video pitch to raise pre-seed funding round, think about who you’ll be pitching. Does this investor already know of you or your company? Do they normally invest in pre-seed rounds? Do they typically invest in your sector or industry? Take the time to ask these questions and ensure that your audience is crystal clear before moving on to the next step.
Next, plan and shoot your video. Don’t forget that your video needs to be simple and concise. Once again, step into your audience’s shoes and deliver what they want to hear.
If you are pitching to investors, for instance, make sure that you include those details we referenced above. Be specific and focus on providing details about your addressable market and how your company will cater to that market. Show traction and social proof. Try to do all of this in a narrative or story format, as it will more likely resonate with your investor audience.
If you’re pitching to a prospective customer, make sure that your video pitch addresses their wants and needs. Show how your product or service is going to solve their problems and make their lives better. This isn’t groundbreaking stuff, but it’s easy to forget—especially if we are laser-focused on the production value or some other technical aspect of our video.
In the end? Step into your audience’s shoes and keep them at the top of mind.
Leverage the Creativity of Video
This is where video pitching can get very interesting. With the power of video, you and your colleagues can craft your pitch in new and interesting ways. Whether you choose to feed in customer testimonials, show off your product or service in a unique way, or something else, you can do so through the power of video.
At Dubb, my colleagues and I love analyzing video commercials and pitches. We have seen some great video pitches and not-so-great video pitches. Some of the best video pitches are those that push the boundaries of what “should” be in a video pitch.
A classic is from Michael Dubin and Dollar Shave Club. I’m sure you’ve seen it. Titled “Our Blades Are F***ing Great,” Dubin takes viewers through a warehouse while humorously explaining everything there is to know about Dollar Shave Club. Many video pitches are straight-laced and serious, but Dubin decided to go a different direction. He used the magnetic power of his personality and some major creativity to pitch his business to a wide group of customers.
This is just one example, and I’m sure that you have your own favorite video pitches. If you need some more examples, take a look at the work done by Harmon Brothers. My general point here is that you can be massively rewarded by thinking outside the box. Yes, it is easier said than done. And there is always the risk that you color too much outside the lines. Nevertheless, don’t forget about the inherent power of video. Video is a great way to leverage our natural capacity for visuals and stories. Don’t let that opportunity go to waste.
Mind Your Opening and Conclusion
Finally, no matter how concise or tight that you make your pitch video, you’ll need to pay special attention to your opening and conclusion. A simple fact of pitching is that your audience will pay more attention to the opening and conclusion of your pitch. This is true whether you are pitching in-person or whether you are doing it via video. Your audience obviously knows when they begin, but they intuitively recognize when you are wrapping up.
You should use these intuitive behaviors to your advantage. Pay special attention to how you are opening and concluding your pitch. Think about the language you are using and how you are conveying your message through video. Being deliberate and thoughtful here can help separate your pitch from others that your audience is seeing.
Get Started with Video Pitching
Video pitching is the future. It is not going to totally replace in-person pitching, but it will be the best way to pitch your product or service to a specific audience. It lets you take advantage of the twin benefits of visuals and story—all at scale. There are virtually no barriers to entry with video pitching, so you’ll want to capitalize on this trait when pitching to a higher profile audience.
When getting started with video, we recommend that you don’t let the technicals slow you down. Your cell phone camera can be sufficient in the early days. Think about writing a script, but don’t be afraid to improvise as necessary. And as always, feel free to use multiple takes. Iteration is a key part of video pitching, so make sure you’re paying attention to data and adjusting your approach accordingly.
By following the best practices outlined above, you will be well on your way to leveraging the power of video pitching. That said, don’t give up if you’re experiencing some failures along the way. Pitching itself is difficult. No one is going to have a perfect batting average, no matter how good your product or pitch is. If you feel like your video pitch is falling flat for some reason, don’t ignore it. On the contrary, explore that reason. Try iterating and A/B testing, whether that means creating several different pitches to try on Facebook, YouTube, or another platform. By putting in the work, you will start to see some major progress and more refined, polished, and effective video pitches.
Finally, if you have any questions about video pitching, we would love to hear from you. At Dubb, our focus is on helping businesses leverage the power of video. Our software, among other things, can help you better connect with your current customers, convert your prospects, and increase your overall revenue.
To get in touch with us, feel free to click here. Whether you want to discuss video pitching, Dubb, or something else, we look forward to hearing from you!