111708 Going In With A Script

In which we learn to be brilliant and be brief when we're pitching an idea.

What could we learn from the challenges of pitching movie script ideas to production companies?  

“Pitching a movie or television idea in Hollywood is murder. A screenwriter walks into a room and has 15 seconds to tell what may be a feature-length story to a bunch of grown-ups who listen to stories all day long, told by the world’s most talented storytellers. While the screenwriter talks, the grown-ups check their e-mail, their stocks and their makeup. And when it’s all over, the screenwriter can only hope that the grown-ups will hand over a suitcase full of money and send the writer home to write it…” (1) 

 Sounds just like a telephone call to pitch a prospect on an appointment!  :. 

“ ‘…[And there] are only so many master plots out there … I’ve heard all of them a thousand times,’ says Sheila Hanahan Taylor from Practical Pictures. ‘So, your best bet is to …  have a cool, inventive avenue … in which you’ll explore a familiar premise.’ “ (2)

In other words: We have to come up with a unique hook or element in the way we treat a familiar product or service.  And we need to get to the heart of the matter quickly:  

“In order to successfully pitch a concept, you have to give away the good part at the beginning…even if the good part doesn’t happen till the end. This is different from how we’ve learned to dramatize stories, where we tantalize the readers [with all the plot twists and turns] and save the good part for the end.´(3) 

Suck ‘em in with the good parts first. Meaning, talk about the results first, not all the features and services. The “he did…. she did” plot details (i.e. product features) are less important than the unexpected turn or dramatic twist which comes at the end (i.e. the outcome or result).

So it’s brief, something unexpected, giving away the “result” at the beginning.   

For example, at a networking function, a prospect asks you ‘what do you do?’ You could give away the result at the beginning: “Well, a ___company perhaps like yours has $50,000 more in their rainy day fund today as a result of the cash flow saving measures we helped them put in place three months ago. We help our clients manage their cash flows so that they maximize every dollar they have.”

Or, you could build up the pain side a little more with a bit of plot:  “Do you know that sick feeling when cash seems to disappear almost without warning, and one or two important checks bounce, and now suddenly you’re wondering how you’ll make it through the next payroll? Yes? Well, we take care of that for our clients. We help them manage their cash flows so maximize every dollar they have.”

Like the screen writers, we need to adapt our pitches to the preferences and likely needs of our prospects – our prospects and customers need to see their desires or challenges in the story we tell.  And like the screen writers, not every prospect will want to buy our stories. We get our best shot if we’re brief, a little unexpected, giving away the result at the beginning.

(1) Source: Scripthollywood.com

(2) Source: Source: ScriptMagazine, March-April, 2008, page 82

(3) Source: http://www.comicsbulletin.com/wolfman/106478386819087.htm

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