Over the last few months, I’ve been working with nearly two dozen founders from across the spectrum of New York’s media & entertainment industry.
It’s the third cohort of New York City’s AMP NYC accelerator program, a first of its kind initiative helping small business owners in the city develop themselves and their businesses in today’s rapidly changing world.
Being involved as a partner in the program has been a real privilege, and has also played a significant part in shaping my understanding of the city, its culture, the entrepreneurial landscape, and where I fit into it all.
This cohort’s companies cover ground as diverse as science film festivals, eSports streaming technology, storytelling for progressive political campaigns, and touring burlesque shows.
Over the 10 week program, each founder goes through three content modules, works with a mentor, and gets access to office hours support, as well as a bunch of supporting resources and private networking events.
As the program reaches its conclusion, the focus shifts to three final elements.
There’s the opportunity to share their work with prospects, associates, and broader industry at the program’s Demo Night, but before that comes a two-part presentation session to their mentors, program team, and cohort peers.
In this session, each member of the cohort shares their personal learnings from the program, as well as the revised company pitch they’ve crafted after going through the program’s three modules.
It’s this pitch that’s often met with the most trepidation. There are only 3 minutes to tell the story; to influence the audience; to put their best foot forward – to bring it all together.
The other feeling alongside this trepidation is a different kind of uncertainty: specifically, figuring out who it’s for.
Because the pitch is delivered in a safe space of program partners and peers rather than clients, customers or investors, I’m often asked by founders how exactly they should talk about the thing they do.
How do we make it land when those people – the people we serve – aren’t in the room?
The way I look at it is through the lens of what happens afterwards – of what happens when they’re not there to tell the story.
Sure, the pitch they’ve crafted is something we hope they’ll use in client and prospect conversations, but far more than that it’s a way to spread the word.
It’s a way to get others to tell the others.
Telling the Others
At first, this feels convoluted – a way to tell the others? – but once connected with network thinking (and the power of the 9% factor we explore in our workshop sessions) it all starts to make sense.
The desired effect of the pitch to me is not to compel me to buy. After all, I’m very unlikely to be your target market.
It’s to plant that seed in my mind.
It’s to plant it so deeply and so specifically that the next day, the next week, the next month (hey, even the next year), when I meet that one of the others – that one who needs you, who’s seeking you out, who’s urgently got to get that job done – I instinctively know it’s you they need.
And I can tell them. No hesitation. No confusion. I know why you’re the one to call, and I also know why you do the thing you do. I know the story, and why it matters. I know the proof and the connections.
So your pitch isn’t really for me – at least not in the way we usually think about it.
It’s for me to tell the others.
What do you want me to see, feel, think, and remember?
What do you want me to tell the others?
And here’s the most interesting thing to think about.
When someone comes into contact with you, your story, your work, your people – who are the others you want them to tell? And who will they tell?
Because that choice matters most of all.
You probably think you know, but if your pitch doesn’t work then plenty of others can tell lots of others…but they may not be the others you were really looking for in the first place.
And so the pitch isn’t really just about what, or how or why. It’s who.
So we can tell the others.