At NATPE’s LATVFest I ran into Jason Sklar and Randy Sklar known as the Sklar Brothers and they told me about the time they pitched their web series to Ex-Disney Chief Michael Eisner poolside at his estate for his web video company Vuguru.
When pitching your web series there a few things you should remember.
1. Know Who You are Pitching.
Before you pitch your web series get an idea of who you are speaking with even if you have just met them at a conference or party. Ask them a few questions about what they do, what kinds of web series they are looking for, what they have done in the past, when they are looking to publish or distribute a new web series. Take five minutes if you can and research them online. In the sales world this in know as “Qualifying.” Make sure that the person you are pitching wants what you are pitching and has the power to fund and distribute your project. The last thing you want to do is pitch a funny, sexy web series to a mommy blogger site.
2. Know Your Pitch Inside and Out
Take time writing out your pitch and reading it out load while learning it. Make sure that it’s as short as possible and in a conversational tone before you memorize it. Remember, you are going to be telling this to someone not reading it so it should sound natural and be in your voice. Also keep in mind that the person you are pitching may have questions or want to change things. Practice your pitch on your educated friends and family before you pitch strangers. This will help you anticipate questions and prepare responses.
3. Prepare an Elevator Pitch
An elevator pitch is a short version of what your web series is about. It’s a pitch that should take as long as a short elevator ride. This is a great pitching tool to have at parties and events so that you can create interest in your project in order to set up a meeting where you will have your listener’s full attention. Again practice this on your educated family and friends as well. I say “educated” because the last thing you want is for your mom to say after listening to your pitch, “Oh, that sounds wonderful.” You need push back from someone who knows storytelling so you can make your pitch as strong as possible. After you give your elevator pitch 50-100 times you will learn where it needs to be tightened and where it needs to be expanded by reading your listener’s reactions and seeing what moves their emotions.
4. Know How To Play Emotions
Information, Entertainment and Storytelling are all about moving emotions. If people don’t care about what you are doing or saying in your web series than they won’t watch it. Know what the possible human emotions that will be in your series and bring them out in your pitch. When I interviewed the Streamy Award Winning Sklar Brothers they told me that if you are pitching a funny show you need to make them laugh in the pitch. The same is true for something sad or scary. Remember if you can give yourself goosebumps while telling a story you will do the same to your listener.
5. Don’t Pitch Past a “Yes”
When you hear the person you are pitching to say something like; “Let’s set up a meeting.”, “Let’s do lunch.”, “When can we get together to discuss this more?” , “I love it. I will have our business department call you.” … STOP TALKING ABOUT YOUR SHOW! Say something like; “Great.” Sounds good. What times work for you?”, “I look forward to their call. Are you doing anything fun this weekend?”
Many times inexperienced producers don’t know when to shut up and they will blow the deal by blabbing on and on. Remember every time you open your mouth there’s a chance you will say something that will make them question their decision. Once you hear a “yes” stop talking, wait to be asked another question but do your best to change the subject, get out of there and and run with your “yes’ to the ink drying ceremony of the contract.