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Death of the Elevator Pitch?

Anyone who has studied marketing, networking (heck, communicating) has probably heard of an “elevator pitch”.

The term refers to a short, prepared message that concisely describes the value you, your ideas, products or services offer to other people. The idea is to hone this message down to a message so brief you could share it during a swift elevator ride.

Admittedly, I’ve never loved this analogy. Elevator rides remind me of cramped spaces where strangers awkwardly attempt to follow established social rules by avoiding eye contact and staring intently (psychotically?) at the changing floor numbers above the doors.

I prefer the term Sniper Pitch.

A Sniper Pitch is a honed soundbite strategically adapted to a specific target. There are many reasons I like this term. Namely, in sniping as in selling books (especially in person), you generally only get one good shot at it. As the sniper saying goes, “One shot, one kill.”

3 Keys to a Sniper Pitch

Intelligence Gathering – Collect what data and information you can from prospective readers (buyers). If time allows, you can accomplish this by asking simple, open-ended questions such as, “What types of books do you read?” or “What is the last book you read that you really loved?” I typically follow-up this question with “What did you love most about it?” The answer tells me how to (ethically and honestly) adapt my pitch to meet their expressed desires. You can also (to a point) simply observe the person’s appearance, clothing, body language, etc.

Sighting – Adapt your pitch to what you know about the other person. Odds are your story has many facets and dimensions, any of which you can highlight depending on the person or persons in front of you. Marketers, advertisers, politicians and other leaders call this “spin”. Whatever you call it, keep it honest, direct and focused on meeting the expressed wants and/or needs of the other person.

ShootingAll of the above work might be brilliantly hidden if you never share your pitch with others. Continuing the analogy, snipers spend countless hours mastering the art of shooting before pulling the trigger in a real life military scenario. Follow their lead by practicing your pitch alone and with others you trust and who will give you constructive feedback on how to improve. Practice, practice, practice. Then start pitching. You’ll learn what works and what doesn’t. Keep honing, perfecting and repeating these steps. I think you’ll be amazed at the results you get.

Here are two example Sniper Pitches for two of my novels. (Note: depending on the other person, I might add/subtract/replace details, but this is the basic foundation of all of my pitches for these two novels).

Dark Halo

Dark Halo is about a grief-stricken father fighting to keep his family alive in a 3-day Armageddon.

Past Lives

Past Lives is a series about a man who discovers under hypnosis that he is a reincarnated serial killer.

I hope this gives you a good start on your Sniper Pitch.

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What Sniper Pitch can you use to show the true value of your stories? Comment with your pitches!