You’ve probably forgotten Greg Smith. If I provide the context of a resignation letter, banking sector and Muppets, you may well be smiling in recollection (or grimacing if you work for Goldman Sachs). Mr Smith, as you may now recall, was the executive whose 14th March resignation letter went viral and created an interesting (and ongoing) reputation management issue for Goldman Sachs. Well you try explaining to clients why they were referred to as Muppets!
One month later and The Muppets are implicated in another piece of viral content, this time a video of the 1970’s pitch to CBS to buy a new prime TV product, The Muppet Show.
Take a couple of minutes to watch the video, it’s hilarious. Don’t forget that to the CBS executives in the audience this was just another pitch by a couple of creatives for a new series.
35 years later the key messages contained within this video still apply to CEOs, Entrepreneurs and Key Account Directors who are pitching Banks, VCs, Angels or Clients for funding or that new contract.
Here are 5 moments that encapsulate timeless elements of a successful pitch. There isn’t a Powerpoint slide in sight, mainly due to the fact that Powerpoint didn’t exist then!
1. Get attention early on: The opening two words “in conclusion” set the scene that this is going to be different, humorous and punchy; something the audience should listen to.
2. Show an awesome product: Next up is the elevator pitch, “it’s time for a revolutionary new look in prime time variety television”. The pitch IS the product in this case and , well, you’ve got my attention.
3. Present a great team: “the Muppets with two giants of the industry”, are presented together with their respective pedigree of earlier shows and technical excellence. This may be innovative and TV puppetry, but the team has done it successfully before.
4. Define the addressable market and key segments: “A show that will be loved and adored by every Nielsen home in the country, small children, young people, college kids, intellectual eggheads and freaky, cynical hippies”. Customer segments you may not be used to dealing with, but the message is that this series will appeal to all sorts of consumers in different ways.
5. Make your request clear: “you should buy this show and put it on the air and we’ll all be famous and we’ll all make a lot of money”. That’s some close!
History does not record how quickly CBS signed up Henson and Schlatter. My suspicion is that Kermit’s mother was really happy at the way things turned out!
Oh and by the way, you might like to check out how The Muppets reacted to the furore caused by Mr Smith.