A couple of months ago, I had the honor of being on a panel of top podcasters at a convention. Attendees at the conference were given an opportunity to give a 2-minute pitch about their work to the panel in hope of being chosen to be a guest on our top-rated podcasts. Ideally, their pitch would be close to one minute so they could receive feedback from the panel on how to improve their pitch in the remaining minute.

The panelists sat in swivel chairs with their backs to the person pitching who faced an audience of 200 people or so. If the person pitching got the attention of any member on the panel, we would turn around. Sort of a Shark Tank meets The Voice style.

After watching 150 or so pitches, I was reminded of how difficult it is for people to say all they want to say in a 2-minute pitch. In fact, many ran way over time and were cut off. So not only did they not get to finish their pitch, they weren’t able to take advantage of the valuable feedback they could have received.

Do you know how hard it is to develop an effective elevator phrase?  Have you ever asked someone what they do and they ramble on for what seems like hours?

Have you ever tried selling yourself in two minutes?

Short and concise is one of the most challenging parts of being a marketer. Yet, it’s critical to getting your message across and one of the main points in my book, LINGO: Discover Your Ideal Customer’s Secret Language and Make Your Business Irresistible. The objective of the marketing strategies in LINGO is to attract your ideal customers by speaking their “secret language” in a specific and concise way.

That’s why I’ve come to describe brand messaging as a 9-second pitch.

Why a 9-Second Pitch?

You have nine seconds, if that, to get someone’s attention. If you can get their attention in nine seconds or less, hopefully, they’ll stick around a little longer to find out more. But nine seconds at best is all you have to get their attention.

That’s why your brand message must be so spot-on for your website, email marketing, landing pages, etc. Everything you’re putting out there to let the world know what you do, how you can serve, who your ideal customer is, even your price point. All of this has to be accomplished in nine seconds or less. The goal is to stop prospective customers in their tracks who are more distracted than ever in an ever-increasingly noisy market. No challenge there!

I’ve actually thought that 9-Second Branding would be a great title for the follow-up book to LINGO. Then the revised version could be the 7-Second Pitch. Then the 5-Second Pitch. Because I certainly don’t see a time when our attention spans are going to get longer.

This is why I believe your brand message is more important than ever. And yes, it’s hard. Far more difficult than a 2-minute pitch. 

It’s a never-ending journey as marketers to get our point across more quickly and clearer all the time. I tweak the copy on my website at least weekly. Always thinking of a better way to say something. Often that means taking words out. To get the point across quicker.

Rule #1: Don’t get wordier — get LESS wordy

Hopefully, you are always learning more about what you do. And finding ways to talk about what you do in a more clear and concise way. Don’t ever stop.

You must work towards getting the core message of what you do across in as little time as possible. As I point out in LINGO, your branding is speaking on your behalf when you’re not there.

In today’s world of online marketing, I’d say most of the time, you’re not there. In fact, it’s even more likely you won’t have any idea about the opportunities you lost because the 9-second impression someone got wasn’t enough to convince them to take the next step.

You can spend all your energy driving traffic to your site, making sure it’s up to snuff with SEO and your ideal customers could be dropping off because your brand message didn’t grab them in nine seconds or less. 

Knowing this, review your website and all your materials all the time. Is there a shorter way to get your point across? Can you make what you do and who you serve more clear?

As a coach, I help entrepreneurs take their amazing ideas, stories, and concepts, and bring them down to Earth, and then wrap it up in an amazing brand message so the world, or more importantly, your ideal customer, gets what you’re trying to say in nine seconds or less.

Personally, I don’t think the journey to clarity can ever be done alone. You will likely need to talk it out in order to get clear about what you’re trying to say. It’s helpful to be guided in the process.

Keep working at it. Review your copy all the time and consider how you can say what you want to say in less time and with fewer words. In nine seconds or less.

Your brand message and promise, the impression prospective customers get when they come across your business, is your 9-second pitch.

Now, I wonder if this post should have been shorter?



Learn more about how your brand can connect with your customers with a compelling brand promise, gift and personality in Magazine Issue VI: