By Adrienne Rose White
Making a memorable pitch can be both harder and easier than it looks. When I joined We Should All Be Millionaires: The Club, my big first test was actually talking about my big idea.
I’ve optioned or sold five TV shows to top production companies, studios, and networks. I named my company Something Truly Brilliant because I make projects that shine, I make content that educates, and I know the value of my work. So you might think I was very confident about pitching my course, How to *Actually* Sell A TV Show, Organically.
And you would be wrong. I was terrified.
In fact, when I went to Puerto Rico for ROI: The Millionaire’s Summit in January of 2023, I nearly pivoted to a whole new business idea, because I didn’t know what to say about this one! I knew how to pitch quirky comedies and sexy dramas, not online courses. Where would I even start?
Then, while I was snacking on chicharrones at the Airbnb with five other Shmillies, one of my brilliant new roommates told us about one-sentence summaries. Her name is Kat Yalung, and these days she’s an incredible well-being educator, business advisor, and Pek Pek power coach. But in a past life, when she ran a tech incubator, she had taught start-up founders to sum up what they did in just one sentence.
And a lightbulb went off in my head. Pitching a product for my business really wasn’t so different from pitching a TV show. Her exercise reminded me of one of the key principles I teach in my course.
I find that the best television pitches have three things in common – they’re short, surprising, and specific. The same is true for pitching a product or service.
Let me show you why:
- Short. The more you talk, the more you confuse people. Over-explaining has been the death of many deals. Sum it up in a sentence or two, and let the listener ask questions after.
- Surprising. Something should happen that the listener doesn’t expect. A twist makes them sit up, pay attention, and remember what you said.
- Specific. Vague asks get vague answers. When the listener is clear about what exactly you’re talking about, it’s easier for them to lock in and get as invested as you are.
This simple structure works. One of my favorite examples of it comes from the sale of a TV classic, Breaking Bad. When the former head of Sony Pictures Studios spoke about why he purchased the Breaking Bad script, he recalls the writer saying that the show turns “Mr. Chips to Scarface.” (If you don’t know Mr. Chips, just imagine he said Mr. Rogers from the kid’s TV show.)
More than 15 years after buying the show, the buyer still remembers the phrase because…
- It was short – just a few words.
- It was surprising – who would expect Mr. Rogers to turn into Scarface?
- It was specific – Mr. Rogers is a humble sweetheart that sings to puppets, while Scarface is a larger-than-life, trigger-happy cocaine dealer. We’re clear on the difference between the characters, and it’s intriguing to think a person could start as one and become the other.
So I applied that logic to talking about my service, and I encourage other entrepreneurs to do the same.
You might be wondering, what was the one-sentence pitch I used for my course?
How to *Actually* Sell A TV Show, Organically teaches clients how to turn their authentic stories into high-caliber TV shows, and get paid for it.
Rich and crisp, like that bag of chicharrones we devoured.
Now I’m launching a special edition of the How to *Actually* Sell A TV Show, Organically course.
It’s called Strike Gold, and it’s designed especially to support creatives during the strikes by the Writers Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild.
As creatives unite to demand better pay for their work, now is NOT the time to pitch a project to TV studios, streamers, and networks.
But on the flip side, now is actually the best time to learn how to develop the story that’s authentic to you.
That story is going to be the key that opens the right opportunities for you after the strike is over.
And once the WGA and SAG negotiate better TV contracts… you’ll be ready.
Readers of this blog get access to Strike Gold for 50% off through September 5th. Use the code SHMILLIE. Visit somethingtrulybrilliant.com for more info.
About the Author
Adrienne Rose White makes playfully epic TV that makes the world a better place. In addition to optioning and selling her TV projects to CBS Studios and Lakeshore Entertainment, she’s helped other creatives get yeses from Netflix and Paramount, meetings with their dream showrunners, and more. As an actress, she also recently shot a feature film with Amy Adams and Annapurna, to be released in 2023. (We hope!)