I was there, I pitched and I was chosen!
My company, Subscribe To Delight (a surprise gift subscription service), was a 2007 Pitch Your Product winner - see the Country Living write-up here.
To be one of seven honorees out of the hundreds that applied to Country Living magazine's "Pitch Your Product" event was an incredible experience.
I have decided to post a series of hints & tips (from my perspective) to make your "Pitch Your Product" experience the best that it can be.
(Click here to read: Part One and Part Two)
Part Three: The Day of the Pitch
Pitches are in the morning and you will be assigned a time. Don't let nerves (or the nerves of others around you) freak you out. If you think about it, you have been telling friends, relatives and customers "micro-versions" of your company for ages. These sound bites are the bones of your story and should help you formulate what you are going to say to the editors. There may be up to 45 minutes of waiting before you actually get to pitch.
Others will be nervous, don't follow their lead.
I want you to realize that a lot of the women there will be highly nervous. Perhaps they are unprepared, or have talked themselves into being scared of the process. I noticed that a lot of women were trying to expend their nervous energy by "making friends" with everyone there. I don't recommend getting wrapped up in the other women and their products before you pitch. (There is plenty of time for that at the conference when you will both be relaxed and have a lot more fun). The other women are essentially "practicing their pitch" on those around them and it can be very draining - that won't help your pitch or focus. Other women will see your product and want to "size you up" by asking about your company. This is another distraction that can throw you off. Be polite, but you can respond to any direct solicitation with "I need to think about some things, let's talk afterwards." It worked for me and I can tell you that I walked into my pitch as calm as a cucumber.
Smile & Introduce Yourself
Part of your job is to assure the editors that they did indeed "call back" the right companies. Smile and the editors will be at ease. If you put yourself in their shoes, you'll realize that there are multiple rooms of editors listening to more than 100 pitches. Each team is hoping that they get to hear some of the creme de la creme pitches - a company that sounds so good that the other editors will be interested too. So be sharp, be happy and tell them how much you love what you do.
Once you have pitched, you can really mix and mingle. Attending a big event catering to women entrepreneurs is a really cool experience - one that you will look back on for years. Make the most of it by being prepared. Have lots and lots of business cards with you and take the time to meet and chat with other attendees. I like to carry a clipboard to events like this, it gives me a surface to jot down notes on and is handy for holding a pen. Meet other women entrepreneurs, find out about their businesses, (Do they blog? How do they communicate with their customers?) and share stories. I have made many friends at this event and still communicate with them regularly. The keynote speaker and entrepreneur panel will give tons of great advice. I recommend bringing along a notebook to record their suggestions. The websites and advice you hear may not apply to your business right now, but could be very valuable in the future. Capture it while you have the chance.
Most of all I want you to have fun...and tell me how it went! Good luck!