I know that when I am telling someone what I and my company do I am fighting a battle of diminishing attention from my audience. Unfortunately, not paying attention to commercials is something we all learn to do just from watching TV and listening to radio our whole life -- and our business pitch is simply a first-person commercial.
Many TV advertisers understand the psychology of this conditioning and have gone to great extremes to create 30-60 second entertainment experiences.
I was at a networking event a few days ago and emcee's recited brief commercials about sponsors as the sponsor came to the stage to introduce award recipients. But before handing out an award each sponsor reiterated the commercial for themselves we had just heard. You can imagine the audience was not very interested and had to be hushed several times as they talked among themselves.
So how can my personal or company commercial overcome the instinct of my audience to not listen?
Well, especially at networking events, your commercial needs to be sharp, concise and maybe even entertaining.
For years the title on my business cards read, "Marketing Catalyst". You can imagine the title alone got people interested in hearing more about me. "Well," I would reply, "I am a connector for business professionals." I help people like you to connect to the referral relationships they're seeking to drive new business." I would finish by asking, "Whom can I help you meet?"
One lawyer I know would introduce himself by stating, "I make millionaires." OK, tell me that statement wouldn't grab your attention.
Think carefully about your commercial and create something that starts a conversation -- not finishes it.