Firm Narrative
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Firm Narrative

Want a Better Pitch? Play This Game.

Teaching pitch structure to CEOs, founders, and Uber engineers.

How to Play “Is it a Story Yet?”

We do healthcare analytics.

We’re going to disrupt payments.

I want us to switch to a new database for the XYZ application. (internal project pitch)

We all agreed that ‘There’s a lightsaber…’ wasn’t a story. And surely none of us, when asked to summarize Star Wars: Episode IV, would start with that. Yet when we look at our pitches, they’re all essentially variations on ‘There’s a lightsaber.’”

“Is it a Story Yet?” as a Roadmap for Emotional Pitch Narratives

  1. Main character
    Who is the person whose life will be transformed by what you’re offering? Usually this is your customer. If you’re a non-profit, it’s the people or communities you’re helping.
  2. Why now?
    Why is the main character compelled to act ? In other words, what is causing that person to struggle? In Star Wars, it’s the Empire hitting Luke where he lives, leaving him with nothing. For Zuora, the subscription payments platform, it’s what the company calls the “Subscription Economy,” in which many businesses are shifting from outright purchase to renewable service plans. (For more on this, read For Startups: The Power of “Why Now?”)
  3. Promised Land
    What will the world look like for your main character (customer) if he/she buys what you’re selling? In Star Wars, it’s the princess rescued and the bad guy defeated. For Airbnb, it’s that you’ll “Belong anywhere.” (For more on teasing the Promised Land, read: Master the “Move”)
  4. Obstacles and gifts
    OK, now it’s time to talk about that lightsaber. But do it in the context of the obstacles you’ll help your character overcome to reach the Promised Land. Luke has to overcome a bunch of bad guys and their weapons to defeat Darth Vader. What obstacles will your customer have to overcome, and how does your product/service help? You’re Obi Wan, furnishing your customer with gifts that will help him/her reach the Promised Land.
  5. Evidence
    The one element of a pitch story that doesn’t appear in the game is evidence. In pitch stories, unlike movies, the ending hasn’t happened yet. What evidence can you offer that you’ll make the story come true? (I discuss evidence in more detail in Want a Better Pitch? Watch This.)

For [MAIN CHARACTER], [WHY NOW]. So we thought, what if we could [HELP THEM REACH THE PROMISED LAND].

For travelers, it’s really hard to feel connected to the places they visit. So we thought, what if it we made it easy to find locals willing to host them?

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