How to communicate clearly and easily about your organisation to galvanise support for your cause.

How to create the perfect pitch Recently I’ve had quite a few questions from people wanting to know how to create the perfect sponsorship pitch for their organisation.

Pitching is the concept of delivering a succinct (short, sharp, to the point) message in such a way that gets the other person to take some kind of action – with the end result being a purchase/ investment decision.

Personally, I think the concept of ‘pitching’ in the for-purpose space is unhelpful.

Despite sponsorship and corporate partnerships roles in our sector definitely having a ‘sales’ element to them, not every corporate fundraiser is trained in sales or marketing and I’ve watched those words deflate people’s confidence, destroy their motivation and overwhelm their efforts to  progress their sponsorship strategy.

Not helpful.

Nevertheless, I’m sure you’ll agree that there is huge merit in being able to communicate clearly and easily about your organisation in a way that piques someone’s curiosity and galvanises support for what you do.

So, with that in mind, I wanted to help you pass what I call, the ‘BBQ Test’.

It’s pretty much how it sounds. You’re at a BBQ, meeting new people and someone says, ‘So, what do you do?’

How do you share with them the incredible passion for what you do (that may, in fact, be very niche) in a way that doesn’t take ages to explain and results in their eyes glazing over, or politely nodding, knowing that they have NO IDEA what you just said?

For years I have struggled to get my messaging right for Infinity Sponsorship. What do I do? What do I stand for?  How do I serve and help organisations create a bigger impact?  When someone visits my website, do they immediately understand how I can help them? And just as importantly, how I won’t be able to? (You can’t be everything to everyone one!) I’ve found that darned BBQ Test has stumped me time and time again!

Hello.  My name is Abby Clemence and I am a wordy person.

Yep, if you’ve seen me present at a conference or workshop, you’ll know that I always have PLENTY to say!  Emails and blogs that I write (like this one) are rarely short and sweet.  I just have so much I want to share with you while you’re here!

Now, all of that has its place, but when it comes to passing the BBQ Test, short and sharp is best.

So… given that my biggest challenge has always been having so much to say, I wanted to share some tools and ideas with you that have worked both for my brand and clients alike when coming up with the perfect pitch.

1. Revisit Your Mission

Yep, that’s right.  It all starts here!

Believe it or not, when I start working with a new client wanting to bring in more sponsorship income, that’s one of the first things we look at.

Every organisation has a mission and most people can recite it by heart. Rarely, however, have I ever felt tingles when someone relayed their mission and vision to me.  Not because they aren’t doing great work, but missions can be super generic and fluffy, and therefore deliver unhelpfully broad and diluted messages.

I recognise not every organisation is open to revisiting their mission (which is a shame), but the process of pulling it apart and asking, does it really represent who we are and what we do now, can be nothing short of enlightening

Let me give you an example.

I worked with an organisation last year whose mission was:

‘We connect the not-for-profit sector to the right tools and capabilities they need to fulfil their mission.

Now, this might sound perfectly fine, but in fact, this organisation’s speciality was helping other charities navigate the often-confusing and expensive digital space.  They offer their members discounts on both hardware and software at prices they simply cannot access anywhere else as well as training and support to help organisations be more tech savvy.  As we worked together, looking more deeply at those they served, a new mission bubbled to the surface.

‘We enable not-for-profits to leverage the digital world to maximise their impact and increase their influence.’

After discussion at the board level, a new mission was finally settled on:

‘XXXX enables not-for-profits to leverage the digital world to positively impact their communities.’

Ahhhh, much more succinct!  It certainly gives more of an idea of what they do, what space they are in while being broad enough to not ‘box’ them in.

2. Know Your Why

Simon Sinek is pretty much a staple in the world of leadership and transformation these days.  He has a number of great Ted Talks that I highly recommend, and for the purposes of today’s blog, this video is a must! His work on developing your ‘Why’ is incredibly helpful as you work through developing your pitch.

When it came to me developing my own ‘Why’, I have to give credit to my gorgeous marketing manager. As I tossed and turned with it, she simply looked at me and said, ‘You do what you do because changing our world for the better is easier when money is no longer a barrier. That’s the gift you give to the sector.’

BOOM. She nailed it!

The key to getting to your ‘Why’ is that upon hearing it, it opens peoples’ hearts, elicits an emotional reaction.  I’ll let Mr Sinek share his thoughts with you in that video.

3. Clarify Your Marketing Messages

You may be wondering why I’m taking you into ‘marketing and messaging’, when we are talking about creating a pitch, but of course, everything dovetails into each other and there is no point having a perfect pitch if your potential partners then visit your website and social media channels only to feel a sense of disconnect between what you SAY about your organisation and what they READ.

As I said, I’ve worked through MANY iterations of my own marketing messages over the years and recently a colleague sent me a link to a podcast that really struck a chord.  Amy Porterfield, an online marketing expert in the United States has a fabulous podcast series and she recently interviewed a man called Donald Miller.  Don has a company called Story Brand and he helps businesses clarify their messaging. Don’t be disheartened, the premise is the same regardless of which sector you’re in – we all need to be super clear with our messaging.  Here is the link to the podcast – make sure you have a pen and paper handy, he gives lots of great nuggets!

After I listened to his podcast, I then signed up for his free 5 Minute Marketing Makeover. Oh my!! I will never look at my website the same way again!

4. It’s Everyone’s Business

Whilst you might find yourself working on the pitch for your organisation, the fact is that it is not YOUR organisation.  Which means you may need input and sign off by the CEO and board before you can go to market with the wording of your new pitch.  The great thing is, that if you create a brilliant pitch, you actually want EVERYONE in the organisation to know it by heart and saying it every time they speak about your cause.

The other great thing is, it means that coming up with the perfect pitch is not all up to you!

Anything to do with creating a corporate partnerships strategy is about aligning the entire organisation behind that strategy to support its implementation and delivery. Therefore, everyone should have a hand in its birth. The richness and diversity of your team can really shine through a brainstorming process like this, and my one piece of advice would be to make sure you are clear about your goal.  Sometimes brainstorming sessions can wander aimlessly and not achieve much.

You may come up with several pitches that are popular.  Why not put it to a vote around the office and board to get people’s buy-in to the process?

5. Allow It To Evolve

Having said all of that, creating a pitch, isn’t a ‘set and forget’ piece of work.  My marketing messages have evolved over the years as I have created new services, courses, branched out into new areas, come into my own expertise around certain areas and yours should too.

Ideally, this should be a fun process – when I do it with my clients I see new levels of collaboration and respect emerge as people listen and are guided by new perspectives.

These days when I’m at a BBQ I no longer dread the uncomfortable aftermath that used to come with the question, ‘So, what do you do?’.  Now I simply say, ‘You know how charities are always looking for new ways to fund their mission? Well, I teach them how to approach businesses for sponsorship.’

How will you change what you say about your organisation to pass the BBQ Test?

Abby Clemence is the director of Infinity Sponsorship.

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