When I was a little girl, I’d watch my mother getting ready for a night out. I was fascinated how the person who’d been toiling in the kitchen in her apron transformed into a glamorous goddess, with killer heels and red lips. Seeing the celebrities at the Met Gala sashaying up the steps, I noticed the same sense of transformation. They were dressed for a performance and were ready to make it memorable for their audience.
At Stellar Partnerships we often talk about the 4P’s of pitching for corporate partnerships. However, there’s an unofficial 5th P – panache, pizzazz, performance. It’s the sizzle that you add to a pitch, presentation or proposal that makes you stand out and grabs the attention of the audience.
What can you do to pimp your pitch?
You may be an accomplished presenter and very comfortable with corporate prospects. But maybe you can bring someone else in your networks with a different perspective to make the audience sit up. The lovely team at Ovarian Cancer Australia once took a young cancer survivor to a presentation. She spoke movingly about her personal battle and the need for ongoing support. There wasn’t a dry eye on the house. You may have a subject matter expert in your organisation that you can ask to participate. Whether it’s mental health, early childhood education or homelessness, they can bring a depth of knowledge and insight that will make your audience sit up and think. One organisation got their patron to record a short video message addressing the members of the corporate team in the room. Pretty compelling to have Chris Hemsworth talking directly to you!
I’m frustrated in art galleries, because I really just want to touch and feel the exhibits- especially the sculptures. It’s a natural human instinct to reach out and touch something. Our Neanderthal ancestors probably did this to test if something was interesting, edible or dangerous. Props bring a pitch to life in a very tangible way. I once pitched a marketing focused partnership to Etsy, the online retailer. We went down to the Reject Shop to buy some $2 bangles, created a mock insert talking about the partnership and packaged it all up in beautifully wrapped boxes. Each of the Etsy team were able to unwrap the packages and share in the excitement and intrigue that their customers would experience with the partnership. They loved them so much they all took them home! Think about what props you can add to a presentation to bring it to life.
When you work in overseas aid, you can’t take your corporate prospect to dig a deep water well in Africa. Instead, the clever team at CARE used virtual reality headsets to walk their audience through a guided tour of a village. They got to see the projects underway and experience how they could transform the life of the community. Asking your corporate prospects to put themselves in the shoes of your beneficiaries is very powerful way to connect them to your cause. Experiences that elicit emotional responses, not just rational ones, will live in the memory for longer.
A partnership manager at a theatre company asked me recently how she could bring her pitch to life. It wasn’t possible to bring a team of performers into a boardroom. But the theatre provided immersive, sensory experiences for all abilities. She realised that she could bring some of those sensory to her corporate prospects, including blindfolds, touch and feel props and things to play with. It was a wonderful way to invite the corporate partner to become part of the audience experience.
Sometimes you’re asked to submit a written proposal rather than make a pitch presentation. You still need to make your proposal standout and not get lost in the pages of detail. You could embed a link to a short video in the document or attach something to pique their interest. When I was responding to partnership opportunity from a large investment bank, they asked me to outline what the partnership might look like at the end of three years. I got the design team to mock-up a front cover of The Economist magazine and I wrote an article dated three years in the future. The article told the story of the partnership’s success, the awards won and the great outcomes for the community. The bankers loved the approach and invited us to the final stage of negotiations. Be creative and think how you can make your proposal memorable.
These are competitive times for partnerships, and you need to add sizzle to your pitch to make you stand out from the crowd. You may not be Rihanna in her yellow coat or feel comfortable going the whole Kardashian in black, but you’ve all got plenty of tricks in the cupboard to pimp your pitch and win that corporate partnership.