Daniel Pink on Honing Your Pitch

Daniel Pink is an idea machine, not to mention a best-selling author. Here are six pitches he deems capable of selling an idea:

1. The One-Word Pitch

Pink’s tip: Write a 50-word pitch. Reduce it to 25 words. Then to six words. One of those remaining half-dozen is almost certainly your one-word pitch.

Example: MasterCard’s priceless.

2. The Question Pitch

Pink’s tip: Use this if your arguments are strong. If they’re weak, make a statement. Or better yet, find some new arguments.

Example: Are you better off than you were four years ago? (Ronald Reagan)

3. The Rhyming Pitch

Pink’s tip: Don’t rack your brain for rhymes. Go online and find a rhyming dictionary. I’m partial to RhymeZone.com.

Example: If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit. (Johnnie Cochran in the O.J. Simpson murder trial)

4. The Subject Line Pitch

Pink’s tip: Review the subject lines of the last 20 email messages you’ve sent. Note how many of them appeal because of either their usefulness or their curiosity factor. If that number is less than 10, you have to work harder at your subject lines.

Example: 4 tips to improve your golf swing this afternoon. (Brian Clark, founder of Copyblogger)

5. The Twitter Pitch

Pink’s tip: Even though Twitter allows 140 characters, limit your pitch to 120 characters so others can pass it on. Remember: The best pitches are short, sweet and easy to retweet.

Example: Globally minded Innovative and driven Tippie can sharpen (John Yates won a scholarship to the University of Iowa’s Tippie School of Management with the preceding haiku tweet.)

6. The Pixar Pitch

Pink’s tip: Read all 22 story rules from Emma Coats, a former story artist at Pixar animated film studio, at https://bit.ly/14xsXmf. Using her tips, write your pitch by filling in the blanks of Pixar’s boilerplate story line (below).

Once upon a time _________ .

Every day, _________ .

One day, _________ .

Because of that, __________.

Because of that ,__________ .

Until finally, _________ .

Example: Once upon a time, people depended completely on paper. Every day, piles of paper grew. One day, two California guys developed a user-friendly computer. Because of that, people’s lives changed. Because of that, ideas and commerce flowed electronically. Until finally, Apple became one of the country’s largest companies.

Adapted from To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others © 2013 by Daniel H. Pink.


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