What happened today is about 1 chance in 84 Billion. Here is what happened.
I was using the URL shortening service http:\tr.im. This service takes a long URL and shortens it into something manageable. The utility of the service is that you get a short URL which can be used on venues such as Twitter, where every character counts.
In fact, I was going to tweet about a new product, Contact Capture for the iPhone. The latest iPhone is the 3GS. I typed in the long URL, as shown in the picture below.
Next, I pressed the [TR.IM] button and got the following:
If you haven’t picked it up, the iPhone is the 3Gs, the trimmed URL is “x3Gs”
Now for the fuzzy (very fuzzy math)
There are approximately 96 usable ASCII characters. ASCII is the characters on your keyboard plus a few more (A-Z, a-z and 0-9, etc) . There are about 96 usable ones that the TR.IM service can use.
With 4 unique characters in the URL, that means there are 96 * 96 * 96 *96 combinations or 84,934,656 combinations.
This itself is interesting, but the fact that the URL was for an iPhone 3Gs we have to look at this question: Of all trimmed URL’s, what percentage are for iPhone related content? I am going to be conservative and sale 1 in 1000.
So 84 million multiplied by 1000 is one in 84 billion.
The bottom line is that this was a coincidence, it made me smile and I thought I would share it.
Here are the links I made today:
Contact Capture for the iPhone: http://tr.im/x3Gs
Contact Capture for the Blackberry: http://tr.im/x3Fu
If the Blackberry link included something like a Blackberry model number, I would be heading out to buy a lottery ticket…no such luck.
This all made me think about Malcolm Gladwell’s new book Outliers. One of the concepts I gathered was, basically, when opportunity knocks, you need to take advantage of it. Sometimes an opportunity is one in 84 billion.
Without coaching or any process, most first-time recorded pitches are simply poor. Without proper training or a plan of attack, first time pitches tend to ramble, are too long, plagued with “uhms” and “ahhs” and are fragmented and not engaging.
You wouldn’t try to build a house without a systematic process to follow. Building a pitch is no different. Luckily, I’ve defined a simple to remember and effective process I call the “Avatar” method. In the online world, an Avatar is a unique virtual character that represents you. Representing your pitch is no different, it needs to stand out, it needs to be unique, it needs to be simple.
Before you do anything, think up your Avatar. Who are you?
Are you the first year sales rep or a confident VP of sales and marketing? Why is this important? While coaching people, I have found when people feel they are acting out a role, they become more comfortable. Messing up in character is less stressful (and more fun) than messing up yourself. Mind games…possibly, but it works.
Now that you are no longer you, here is the steps to crafting your pitch:
PitchCrafting: The Simple Method
1. Problem: State the problem or need that exists.
The problem must be stated clearly to build credibility and then transition into solving the problem in the next part of your pitch. This is akin in sales to “pointing out the pain”. Why does your product or service exist?
2. Solution: State how your offering solves that problem.
Here is where you get to shine. Solve that problem. Be clear and concise. What does your company, you, your product or solution do?
3. Uniqueness: State how your offering is unique.
You may have competitors, how do you stand out? This is the part that many people struggle with. The uniqueness does not have to be part of your product, it can be your years of experience, prices, or level of customer service. Be careful NOT to use generic terms here like “best”, “cheapest” or “biggest”. Use quantifiable language.
There are additional elements we can explore in advanced pitch crafting, but for now you have the core elements to craft a first rate elevator pitch. If you are being recorded, here are some advice points to remember. The advice is broken into two sections. Simple and advanced. Simple advice is just that. Simple. Follow the simple advice and you will have dramatically results. The advanced advice is for those that are more comfortable with speaking in front of the camera and really are looking to hone their pitch. The goal here is not to give you too much to think about. If you are new to this concept, stick to the simple advice.
- Think in bullet points. Say it to yourself a few times. “Problem – Solution – Uniqueness. Problem – Solution – Uniqueness.” Don’t try to remember everything at once. If you remember those three words, you will do fine.
- Good posture. Stand straight and maintain good posture. Video pitches are, for the most part, head shots, however, good posture projects confidence. Believe it or not good or bad posture can be detected by the viewer from a neck up shot.
- Get an “um” ball. If you have a tendency to use filler words like “um” and “ahh” leave them at home. One “um” can remove all confidence projected by your pitch. A simple technique to get rid of the filler words is to hold something soft in your hand that you can squeeze. When you have the urge to use a filler word, replace that with a squeeze of a ball. This is an amazingly simple technique that works. The reason it works is that you are replacing a behavior vs. removing it. Psychologists will tell you that replacing a behavior is much easier than eliminating it. This also works for public speaking!
- Don’t apologize. If you screw up, and most people will… keep going until you are done. The pitch is only 30 seconds and it will be good practice to complete it. If you want to immediately start over, do so. DO NOT APOLOGIZE OR MAKE LIGHT OF YOUR ERROR. If you do, this sets tells your brain you have failed. Every mistake is a learning experience and you need to internalize mistakes as a positive thing. Use mistakes to power your humor and passion. The best pitches I have ever seen are from people that messed up, got a big smile on their face…and did it again.
- Expect great things. You may be talking to one person holding a camera, but the audience is 1000′s. Project as if you are talking to 1000′s, not one.
- Project with passion. In advanced pitch training, nearly one quarter of a pitch’s peer-review score is based on projecting passion. If you don’t believe in what you are talking about, it simply won’t work unless you are an incredible actor.
- Find your cadence. Strategic short pauses and even silence can have a dramatic effect on the impact of a pitch. This is part of advanced pitch training, not for every person or every pitch. Find what works for you.
- Sound conversational. Remember you are talking to people, don’t sound like you are reading to them
The 30 second pitch is a skill that every leader and sales professional and business developer needs to master. It is surprisingly easy if you follow the process.
Don’t get caught up in the naming of things with words, it gets confusing. Words change the very nature of how we think about something. It is “this”, therefore it is “that”. Now, a tree is a tree and a rock is a rock, unless you are in some altered state on consciousness, but we won’t go there. I’m focused on the newcomer words that are still in flux. Too often it is herd mentality that gives new things their name.
Today I stared on my iPhone, Blackberry, GPhone and Palm pre on my desk and ask myself “what are these?”
Cell Phones, Mobile Devices or Mobile Computers?
My company, Broadlook is developing software for mobile devices and I needed to have all of them. I’m also a gadget freak, so I enjoy having all of them. Perhaps the collection of them, together, was odd and put me into a bit of a trance.
“What are these?”, I asked myself again.