Is Your Sales Pitch More Like Apple or the US Army?

Business.com / Marketing Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

From Apple’s “Think Different” to the Army’s “Be All That You Can Be,” it’s clear that short sales pitches are the most effective.

From Apple’s “Think different” to the Army’s “Be all that you can be,” it’s clear that short sales pitches are the most effective. A sales pitch is exactly what it sounds like—a short “pitch” (much like in baseball) that needs to knock it out of the park and lead to sales (or, better, loyal customers).

Much like first impressions on a date, you only have a brief amount of time to make the right impression when selling a brand, service or product. A pitch can be communicated in any way, including verbal or written, and while there aren’t any hard and fast rules on lengths, “short” is the go-to description.

There are micro-pitches and elevator pitches, but all of them have one thing in common: a very short amount of time to draw in your audience and make them want what you’re selling.

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Key Elements of a Sales Pitch

When creating a brand strategy, the sales pitch is one of the major final deliverables and it has key elements including positioning, differentiation, value proposition and aspirational messaging.

Positioning requires knowing the target, key benefits and frame(s) of reference. It’s fairly adaptable even though it has to always be specific to a key demographic, which can shift over time. However, an easier way to understand positioning is to remember that it tells the why.

Why should a person buy your product, partner with your company or sign up for a contract? You need to position yourself in your market’s eyes as high quality, necessary and/or desirable, and the best person/business for the job. Both Apple and the Army achieved that by creating a slogan that inspired its demographic to aspire to be the best in their chosen paths.

Differentiation is how you stand out with a specialized service or product. You can focus on either a niche market or a special aspect of a product that has mass appeal. The end result is the same: Differentiation creates more demand and desire within your target demographics. What makes your product or services unique, and how do they fulfill a niche need?

Value proposition is a summary of why a person should purchase a particular product or service. It needs to convince the reader that acquiring it will add “value” to their life, fix a problem or otherwise make things easier. Most often a value proposition is in writing, although it doesn’t technically need to be.

The Army often combined its slogan with images of soldiers scaling mountains or flying military jets. This sent a clear message of bravery and courage that connected with audiences.

Aspirational messages tie into an “aspirational brand”—which basically means a big chunk of the target audience would like to have it, but for some reason (probably financial) they can’t do so easily. Aspirational, as opposed to inspirational, implies that there are so many positive side effects that would come from having this product or service, it’s work “aspiring towards,” but there’s a catch: It’s in such high demand that it might be tough to acquire.

Think of the latest iPhones—they’re in limited supply, relatively costly, tough to track down and with Apple’s savvy aspirational messages and branding, it keeps the sales high and suddenly those on a shoestring budget are finding ways to afford it. When combined with its “Think differently” campaign, the message that iPhone users are unique and exclusive is all that much more powerful.

Comparing Apples and Armies

At first blush, “Be All You Can Be” and “Think Different” actually share some commonalities. They both focus on the individual—achieving marks of your best self, innovation, moving forward, growing and advancing are descriptions that might be applied to both of these pitches. However, they also have some very clear differences. The Army’s pitch can imply physical as well as mental and emotional action. It suggests that there’s a finite cap, since all you can be isn’t quite the same as anything you want to be.

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With Apple, there are no limits, but there’s a clear push away from following the status quo. Is “different” better, worse, weird, or just plain out there? That’s up for you to decide. No matter the similarities or differences, there’s no denying that both pitches are effective. They’re both calls to action, use an active voice and get a point across quickly. They’re also easy to remember, which is crucial when you want your pitch to become part of your overall brand image.

How do I Create My Sales Pitch?

This isn’t a writing exercise, so don’t reach for that pen or keyboard just yet. It all starts with research—you need to get a solid grasp on your competition and audience. Not only will this help inspire you, but it also shows you what’s already out there, what’s working and what’s not, and what your audience wants. Nobody is every 100 percent satisfied with an industry or business. How can you give target demographics what the competition isn’t dishing up?

Next, plan your communication strategy. This will include your sales pitch, but also the outlets you’ll be approaching, online reputation management, social media campaigns and other aspects of marketing. Identify how your audience likes to be reached and approached, what’s panning out for the competition, and use that information to drive your strategy.

Testing, Re-testing and Refining

Don’t be upset if your first (several) sales pitches aren’t sheer gold. It’ll take several drafts to get it right—which can mean many late nights. During this stage, get as many hands in the pot as you can. Ask opinions, welcome feedback and always put a pitch to bed before publishing it in any manner. Once you’ve narrowed down the pitches, test them out in sample groups. You can set up focus groups yourself or rely on a professional agency to do it for you.

Finally, remember that your pitch—much like a book in every famous writer’s dreams—will be refined over time. Audiences change, competition changes (in regards to their web hosting, marketing strategies, niches served and everything else), every landscape changes and your products or services may change. Just as Apple urged customers to “Think differently” and the Army told audiences to “Be all that you can be,” your business can find ways to connect with customers in a memorable, lasting way.

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