I often notice that when asked about the sport, most orienteers will go into a long description of what the sport is rather than a short sales pitch. The long description is inevitably boring. I've noticed effect several times lately and this thread is an attempt to encourage everyone to develop their own 30-second 'elevator pitch' to convince people that orienteering is fun.
Here are some recent examples from AttackPoint...
* in the Some Success in Club Growth
thread I explain my 90 minute intro course to orienteering in which there is no use of compass and no description of map symbols - just an attempt to get people running and punching controls as much as possible on their first contact with the sport.
* in the SOGO job posting
thread ndobbs writes that "Orienteers are too intellectually honest to claim exponential growth on data points" - which is correct and why we hired a marketing company to generate copy for us. Because we're not trying to describe the job, we're trying to sell it
* years ago in a thread I can't find several people offered up descriptions of orienteering, and they were general exactly descriptions rather than sales pitches. They were given from the point of view of the speaker rather than that of the listener
The why (as Simon Sinek puts it in that talk)...the feeling of coming up over a ridge and dropping into a control where you expected it, the feeling of flowing through the terrain, the feeling of being part of the natural landscape, rather than an observer...is far more compelling than the mechanical aspects of the event. Muddy, sweaty, navigational chess with the feel of the marsh between your toes and the sense of the landscape around you. But it's tricky to convey a feeling or experience as opposed to facts. (And I suspect that the why varies a good bit between orienteers.)
Great video - Why / How / What. Present it that way an people will make an emotional attachment.
(I'm thinking my first post in this thread was backwards - it was a What/How/Why approach so I gave an example of the problem in posing the question) (maybe someone brighter than me can rephrase it in the proper order)
I think a big problem with selling orienteering is exactly that "the why varies a good bit between orienteers," as JimBaker put it. Orienteering is navigation+nature+off-trail running and which of the three appeals more initially is different for different people. So a sales pitch intended for a general audience has to somehow include all three aspects in 30 seconds, which is hard to do and is, ultimately, less appealing to any particular person who is only interested in one of the three.
The president of a small startup company that I worked for said that the key to selling someone on something is pressing all the right buttons, and not any other ones. It requires knowing your target.
@MChub: So a sales pitch intended for a general audience has to somehow include all three aspects in 30 seconds, which is hard to do and is, ultimately, less appealing to any particular person who is only interested in one of the three.
For sure! The key is to switch your thinking to that of the audience. You need a number of pitches, depending on what will appeal to who you're talking to. But I think two or three pitches will cover a lot.
For example, when selling SOGO Adventure Running junior program we focus on selling to the parents, and have picked those things that GordH mentioned as being the key selling points. We are always telling parents "your kids active and outdoors".
So, any suggestions for what I should tell the people in my mountain town? Mix of semi-retirees, hunters, fishermen, commuters to the city down on the plains, miners. What's my pitch when I meet people in the local café or taco shop? Mostly outdoorsy people who know maps already, and already get into the forest regularly. Do I talk about racing, to distinguish it from the navigation they do to get to their hunting spot, or when bagging a peak or biking some single track?
@Jim, you've described what these people are, but who are they? What do they want? What drives them? I don't think you can answer your question until you know the answers to those last kinds of questions. You need to know they're motivations before you can consistently talk to them in a way that appeals to those motivations.
So you are saying you need to understand your market segments before you pitch. I have been playing with a segmentation analysis of our own club members. My starting point is a scattergram which shows how many local and how many more distant events people attend. Even this small diagram shows some very clear segments. And each of these orienteers was once a non orienteer. Different desires brought them into the sport, and more importantly, kept them there. Now I have to start talking to archetypes of each group.
Thread from years ago: I vaguely remember this, but also cannot find it. However, if you scroll to the bottom of any page in AP and follow the link to 'about orienteering' there is a pretty good and concise description by Ken, as well as a link to Wikipedia which also has some useful short descriptions.
I think we all over-describe. I suspect the key is to listen first, and find something from our encyclopedic knowledge that has a link. Then say something short. Then listen again. There IS no universal pitch.
Let me offer an example - competitiveness. Some people are in the sport because they are competitive, some because they are not. The things that bring in the former actually get in the way of the later. Both are fans.
Thankfully most orienteers understand that the same thing can be used in multiple ways;-) (as long it isn't presented as an exclusive aspect...)
I wonder if it is true that there is no universal pitch or if we are giving up too easily looking for it. In the video of Simon Sinek he gives the example of Apple who've been able to find a universal pitch for their computers and phones, which makes me think that perhaps there is.
I don't claim to have any idea what the universal pitch is, but I do like to think we should try a bit harder. Not that I have - another recent example from me that uses ccsteve's "competitiveness"... Last December I had all of Red Bull Canada's staff doing an orienteering event. I got ten minutes to talk to the 120 staff - from CEO to receptionist - and I chose "competitiveness" as the hook I was going to pitch. So I loaded the volunteer team with national team members, filled the presentation with images of intense athleticism, and gave them a mass start race after the presentation. It worked, I think, in creating a positive image of the sport to Red Bull staff. But it always bothered me a little bit that this pitch would not have worked for some people in the group - still, in this case it did work for the vast majority and the key was talking about it with my liaison ahead of time to figure out what the proper pitch would be.
I've just watched that Simon Sinek video. I think we may be asking the question wrong. I suspect the more important why question is not "Why do we orienteer?" but "Why do we sell orienteering? Why do we volunteer for orienteering?" "Why do we dedicate our lives (ok some of us more than others) to orienteering?"
We need to communicate our passion not communicate our sport. People connect with emotion they don't connect with fact.
To follow up on my last statement... "Why do we orienteer?" is equivalent to Apple asking "Why do we use computers?" In Simon Sinek's video Apple explains their philosophy as a company not as computer users. We as a community of people that organize orienteering events and programs need to explain our philosophy behind that.
We believe that everyone should have a chance to get outside and use their brains in an engaging, interactive way with nature. We want to share our passion for this sport for life with as many people as possible because we love the community of orienteers and we love the feeling and challenge of running through the terrain with complete control over where we are going and not just going where the trail takes us.
"think different ... while running"
"Adventure" might be a theme that spans the wayfarer to elite gamut (which might be why it's worked so well for ARK and for adventure racing). This ties in slightly to the excitement that newcomers feel every time they punch in somewhere...you write about how you use that early in all day beginner clinics, Adrian.
Adventure is a word I try to use a lot in Facebook messaging for that reason that it means something similar to different people without being intimidating or, the opposite, not cool enough. And, while it might be commonplace to the orienteer, it really is quite the adventure for a newcomer.
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