How to pitch what you do with clarity (and not having to spend 5 minutes explaining yourself)
I play ultimate frisbee.
It’s the same amount of running as soccer, has ‘touchdowns’ like American football, and (most importantly for this email) you can’t run with the disc just like you can run with the ball in basketball.
When you get passed the frisbee, wherever you catch it is where you have to stay until you throw it to a teammate. But if you just stand still, your defender will be all up in your face, blocking every attempt to throw.
This is where your pivot foot comes in.
(oh yeahhhhh let’s talk about a different type of pivoting for once!!!)
You plant one foot on the ground and swing your body around, both making more space for you to throw and to throw off the defender.
Fake to the left, then pivot to the right with a clear open space for you to throw because the defender is still adjusting to your movements.
Kind of like this?
Let me tell you, it was hard finding a gif in either frisbee OR basketball that showed pivoting.
Mostly because it’s not as cool as slam dunks or diving for a sweet catch.
It’s boring fundamentals.
Boring fundamentals are how you win, though.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve played where we get so close to the end zone…then someone tries a fancy pass for a score.
7 times out of 10 that forced ‘cool’ factor results in no score and a frustrating turnover.
We get too excited when we’re close to the goal and forget all the fundamentals.
My favorite cheer on the sidelines for my team is “SHOW ME BORING FRISBEE!!!!!!”
When we take a breath and remember the fundamentals, we pivot, open up the field, throw a great pass, and a teammate makes the easy catch for the win.
No tricky passes.
No forcing a teammate to dive to catch the disc.
It’s all about pivoting.
Plant a pivot foot in your messaging
When it comes to talking or writing about what do, we fail to plant our pivot foot.
There have been countless times where I read an entire homepage, sit back, and think “WHAT DO THEY EVEN DO THOUGH.”
Websites and social media posts can be so stuffed full of cool-sounding language and fluffy jargon that we forget to tell the reader what we do in the most simple fundamental way.
Take this for example:
I curate and design intentional experiences that combine color, function, and form to pull people in and create stronger relationships.
Wtf does this person doooooooooooooo
What if we throw in a pivot word and plant our foot firmly on the ground:
As a graphic designer, I curate and design intentional experiences that combine color, function, and form to pull people in and create stronger relationships.
Ok, now that we know it’s a graphic designer we can start to understand what kind of graphic design this person does and how they approach their work.
Here’s another example:
We harness the power of good ideas to radically shape the world around us. With a streamlined approach rooted in research and fueled by curiosity, the end result is unforgettable.
Software development, maybe?
Here’s the same pitch but with a pivot word:
We harness the power of good ideas to radically shape the world around us. Our streamlined approach to architecture is rooted in research and fueled by curiosity. The end result is unforgettable.
Everything locks into place.
I love me some boring words.
We need to make sure we’re using words everyone knows in their most simple form.
It gives the reader (aka potential client) something to tether to.
Once they know you’re a
- Software developer
- [insert simple boring title here]
then you can start showing them how you’re different.
Say your boring word out loud
Sometimes we don’t like using the boring pivot word because:
- “It doesn’t fit me!”
- “I want to stand out from the crowd!”
- “That’s not quite what I do…”
Here’s the thing…
The pivot word doesn’t have to fit you perfectly.
In fact, there is probably no word that describes exactly what you do.
The importance of the pivot word is to make sure your audience has a clear jumping-off point.
Pivot word + what makes you different = your unique selling proposition
My boring pivot words are copywriter and community designer.
Here’s what my one-sentence pitch is:
“I’m a website copywriter and community designer who mixes strategy, research, and a dash of weird to craft engaging, memorable online experiences.”
What’s your boring pivot word?
What makes you different?
And finally – how would you put that in a sentence?