In an age of short attention spans, ‘pitching’—distilling a message to its core essence— has become an invaluable skill. There are many techniques to get to the essence, for example, global design firm IDEO has created ‘The 5 Whys’ (asking ‘why?’ questions in response to five consecutive answers). The most common type of pitch, the ‘elevator pitch,’ has been the standard for most of the 20th century. But according to author Daniel Pink, of To Sell is Human,“we need to broaden our repertoire of pitches [and recast them for] an age of limited attention” because, whether we like or not, “we are all in sales now.” Here are, according to Pink, six promising successors to the elevator pitch:
The One-Word Pitch—Based on the idea of the ‘One Word Equity’ by Maurice Saatchi, “the one-word pitch aims to define the one characteristic the company wants their brand to be associated with [...] and then own it.” Obvious cases are the associations of the word ‘search’ with Google or ‘priceless’ with MasterCard. Of course this method works best if you can spend millions or, even better, billions in advertising (something Pink unfortunately fails to mention.) Obama’s ‘hope’ (2008) and ‘forward’ (2012) one-word campaigns are other great case studies.
The Question Pitch—Asking a question can, in some cases, be the best method to get the message across—take for example, Reagan’s 1980 presidential debate finale that trumped every syllable uttered by his opponent: “are you better off now than you were four years ago?”
The Rhythmic Pitch—The best example of the rhythmic pitch could be the repeated quip by the late Johnnie Cochran of the infamous O.J. Simpson trial. In relation to a glove allegedly used in the murder, which had been presented as evidence by the prosecution but did not fit the accused, Cochran repeated, "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit."
The Subject Line Pitch—Email has become so pervasive that each one has become a pitch in itself, the subject line being the most important piece. What is an effective subject line? According to research cited by Pink, they are those that mix utility, curiosity and specificity.
The Twitter Pitch—Stowe Boyd is often credited with the idea of pitching via Twitter. His proposed ‘Twitpitch’ helped him schedule meetings with startups at the Web 2.0 Expo in 2008.
The Pixar Pitch—Pixar story artist Emma Coats has revealed a series of ‘story basics’—guidelines she learned from her more senior colleagues at the acclaimed animation studio on how to create appealing stories. Fourth on the list is the famous Pixar storytelling structure pared-down to six sequential sentences: “Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.”