Beg to Differ on how to answer “spotlight questions”.
Yesterday morning, while doing client work in my “second office” (the local Bridgehead), I ran into a friend, an acquaintance, and a former colleague. In all three cases, I gave them a “spotlight moment” by asking: “so, what are you up to these days?” Trivial question? Not at all. The answer to that question – or others like “what’s your company all about?” “how does your product work?” or “what do you do?” – is something I call a “spotlight pitch”.
When I asked my coffee shop question, in all three cases, the answer was initially a vague “oh this and that”, or “getting by”, or “the usual”.
Sound familiar? That’s certainly what I want to say when someone turns the spotlight on me (and I’m a performer in my spare time). It’s like a moment of stage fright: uncomfortable, vulnerable, it makes us feel exposed, and we want to get it over with as soon as possible.
But those awkward spotlight questions are some of the most valuable opportunities any of us ever face. Because in that one moment, a person is asking you: “How are you relevant to me?” How can I remember you?” “How can I help you?” Or one step further: “How can this meeting become more than just an exchange of pleasantries?”
That’s a lot to pack in a short encounter I know. But essentially a spotlight question is the quintessential branding moment for products, ideas, or professionals. It’s your chance to either shine or be ignored.
Intrigue them. Wow them. Don’t settle for jargon, cheese-ball marketing speak, or pat answers. Most importantly: start a conversation.
In my coffee shop encounters, after probing a bit, it turned out that in all three cases, there were synergies between what they were doing and what I do for a living, and it turned out I could help each of them out. But that’s only because I kept asking questions. Most of the time, one spotlight moment is all you get.
So how about you?
Think about your answers to simple questions like that? The spotlight’s on. What’s your pitch?
I’d love to hear examples of Spotlight pitches that worked for you, or completely failed, in the comments below.