“If you don’t know where you’re going; you’ll end up somewhere else.” – Yogi Berra

Thanks to Rhonda Abrams (small business columnist for USA Today and CEO of The Planning Shop – http://www.rhondaonline.com/ ) for asking me to conduct my POP! Your Pitch: Win Buy-in to Your Business in 60 Seconds workshop for the British Airways Face2Face competition last week. http://businessconnect.ba.com/contest/

What a pleasure it was coaching these 250 non-profit leaders and small business owners in the halls of the NYC event and at 30,000 feet on our chartered flight to London.

Our focus was on how to clearly, confidently and compellingly communicate the essence of your work so you can answer the question, “What do you do?” in a way that gets people’s eyebrows up (a sign of curiosity).

Check out these excellent articles which capture what great productive fun it was swapping best-practice tips with 250 smart, talented social entrepreneurs.

These articles also showcase the three finalists

Pencils of Promise is committed to supporting a world with greater educational opportunity for all.

Adam Braun Pencils of Promise is now a global movement.

Adam Braun of Pencils of Promise (the ultimate winner of the competition), Danae Ringelmann of IndieGoGo and Chris Eilers of Dunn Brothers Coffee.

All three are shining examples of visionaries who have built add-value organizations that are making a positive difference for everyone involved.




During one of our brainstorming sessions, several of the contestants weren’t able to articulate their competitive edge.

I told them, “It’s hard to have a competitive edge if you don’t know exactly how you’re different.”

One asked, “How do you figure that out?”

I asked her, “You’ve heard of having your ducks in a row? Well, before you can crisply communicate your competitive advantage – you need to have your ‘W’s’ in a row.”

“What are those?” she asked.

They are the W words journalists use to figure out where they want to go with an article or interview so they can stay “on purpose.”

Print out this blog post with the W10 Form below and take it to lunch with you. Or, print out several copies and ask key employees to fill them out so you can discuss these at an upcoming staff meeting.

POP! Create the Perfect Pitch, Title and Tagline for Anything

Hailed as one of the best business books of the year

Taking time to answer the following 10 questions (excerpted from Chapter 2 of my POP! book) can help you clarify where you’re first-of-your-kind and worth trying and buying.

W#1. What am I offering? What is my product, service or organization?

W#2. Who is my target audience, customer or decision-maker?

W#3. What problem(s) do they have that my business solves? What keeps them up at night? What worries them, frustrates them, confounds them?

W#4. What do my target customers want or need that no one else offers?

W#5. What specific, measurable action do I want people to take? Schedule a follow-up meeting? Visit our website? Buy our product? Hire us as their consultant?

W#6. What objections or resistance might people to have to my offering, products or services? Why will they say no or opt out?

W#7. What do I say/do to address and neutralize those objections so they’re a non-issue?

w#8. Who are my competitors and how am I different or better than them?

W#9. What do all my competitors have in common? How do I zig where they zag? How does our organization do the opposite of the obvious?

W#10. Who am I (or who is my organization) What are our strengths and unique abilities? What is our tangible track record of proven, measurable results?

When you (and your team) can answer each of the above “W” questions in a clear, crisp 60 seconds, you will know exactly why it’s in people’s best interests to do business with you.

And that, my friends, is a competitive advantage.

Tip #4 on How to Develop a Strong USP – Unique Selling Proposition: Cop an Attitude

One way to be on the cutting edge is to have an edge.

For example, Michael Jordan swished a 20 foot shot at a Chicago Bulls practice . Coach Phil Jackson called him over, exasperated because he thought Michael was hogging the ball. He said, “C’mon Michael. You had a teammate under the basket. Why didn’t you pass him the ball? You know, there’s no I in team.”

“Yeah,” said Michael, grinning. “But there is in win!”

Review your communication to clients – including your website, marketing brochures and sales presentations. Do they have common phrasing? If so, they could elicit a yawn; or worse, a groan.

Predictability is boring. If you’re using cliche’s in your sales material such as “It’s nice to be important but it’s more important to be nice,” or “The customer is always right,” people will conclude you don’t have anything new to offer. They’ll tune out and move on.

Don’t be afraid to cop an attitude. I was supporting a client at an Investors Circle event today. One of the best pitches was from a company called Better World Club – the first “green” auto roadside assistance company (trying to get a piece of AAA’s $25 billion in revenue). Their edgy newsletter is Kiss My Asphalt. Aother tagline is “Improve Your Car-ma.” Their fresh approach helped win buy-in from everyone in the room.

Look at your business communication. Does it have an attitude? An edge? People will be pleasantly surprised and more likely to pay attention if they don’t know what’s coming next.

Other examples of strong USP’s include Avon’s campaign for fighting breast cancer, “Good things come to those who . . . walk.” The clever slogan for Economist magazine is “Great minds like a think.” Jack McShane calls his lawn-mowing business Weeding By Example.

When developing your Unique Selling Proposition, remember what George Washington Carver said, “When you can do a common thing in an uncommon way; you will command the attention of the world.”