Pitch and sell your services as a creative – use the brain to your advantage – part 2

Hot Cognitions! How to use them to your advantage!

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Hot cognitions makes the croc-brain hijacks all our brain functions and no analytics get done. Hot cognitions are primal – use them to your advantage. Welcome to the second part of the Pitch and sell your services as a creative – use the brain to your advantage – series. In the first part I talked about how the brain process new information in different ways and how you can format your pitch or presentation for it. All this content is coming from me reading Oren Klaff’s book, Pitch Anything. I can’t recommend this book enough if you want to step up your pitch or presentation game. This book was also a part of my list of summer reads.

The thing with frames

The thing about hot cognitions is that the croc-brain hijacks all our brain functions and no analytics get done, meaning the information is not sent all the way up to the neocortex. Hot cognitions are primal. You have probably experienced it yourself. Where all your racial thoughts get tossed out the window and you just need something really bad! This is also the way someone who is good at charming others work. For example, in the dating world, the pickup artist (as read in Neil Strauss The Game) target your primal cognitions and creates a need, even if the person is considered way out of your league. 

The thing with hot cognitions

As I wrote in the first part the hot cognitions are being used in the dating world as well. You see people that are good at picking up others excel in using the cognitions. When we stumble across people that just create this need in us are playing your hot cognitions in their hands. Because winning a pitch for your creative services and succeeding in romantically charming another person is in the primal ways, the same things. We create a need for our creative services / us as a person and a romantic partner.

When you have passed the first barrier, witch is the pitch for your services / created a need in the other person, the information that we then communicate can by no problem pass on to the neocortex. But the first goal is to create the primal need.

Let’s jump strait back into it!

Timing is everything

How many pitches, classes and lectures have you sit through where the slide-count is as long as your phone number? NO ONE can pay attention for that long, nor keep someone’s attention. Especially in your first icebreaking pitch where the croc-brain is the receiver.

In 1953 molecular biologists James Watson and Francis Crick introduced the world to what is called the double-helix DNA structure, the so-called secrets to life. The presentation earned the two gentlemen’s a Nobel Prize – and it took 5 minutes. Think about that for a second: 


Your pitch should be maximum 20 minutes, for several reasons. After about 20 minutes we start to forget things and our attention span tends to wear off. When you are starting you pitch, start by saying “this will take 20 minutes”. By setting a timeframe you client know how long he or she needs to keep attention and will probably be at ease that the pitch isn’t a 1-hour presentation with 200 slides.

  1. Introduce yourself and your big idea 5 mins.
  2. Explain the secret sauce and budget 10 mins.
  3. Offer the deal 2 mins.
  4. Stack the 4 hot cognitions! 3 mins.

The 20 minutes pitch

Drop it like it hot! The hot cognitions

You want the person on the other side act on their hot cognitions! Not the cold analytical ones.

Have you decided you don’t like someone before meeting them? Or decided you like something before even experience it? That is what is called hot cognitions – when you decide before having all the details. Oren has created or identified 4 different hot cognitions that you need/can use to seal the deal of your pitch.

  1. Hot cognition 1 – Intrigue
  2. Hot cognition 2 – Prizing
  3. Hot cognition 3 – Time frame
  4. Hot cognition 4 – Moral authority

These cognitions may sound advanced or tricky, but they can be very easy to use and clear to perceive (croc-brain friendly). This is what each cognition can look like when pitching, as a creative, to a marketing manager:


Is just as it sounds. You need to wake the emotions that creates a desire for you and your services. This can be that you can offer a certain location for a photoshoot, have connections with a certain celebrity or some other value that only you can bring in to the deal. A good trick to spice up the intrigue a bit is to do a bit of teasing. Hint of something the client wants, but might not be able to get.

“What makes this campaign series so unique is that I can give you access to this antique apartment in the old parts of Stockholm, that is otherwise a very private property. I also have my own team of art directors and graphic designers. The art style we deliver is something you can’t get anywhere else.”

 “I like your company, I believe we have the same values and would be a good match. If we decide to partner up, I might be able to get my partner in crime in on this project as well. She is a film maker and you have probably seen her award-winning films for American Vogue.”


You need to flip the coin – you are the price of the deal, not the client. You have something that the marketing manager and the company needs. It can be a specific service, a product of some sort that will benefit them. By flipping the coin, you create a need in the marketing managers head. Because we want something that might be out of reach from us. Remembering being a child and you wanted something just because you couldn’t get it. It also shows that you are strong, confident and not needy (which is a huge turn off)

“I care very much for the clients I have and that I can make a great job for the. Everyone I work with feel trust in what I produce and the ideas I come up with. We are all a perfect match. If I don’t feel I can do an outstanding job, they aren’t the client for me. This require a lot of dedication from both ends and I want that every single one of my clients to feel this way. I like your values as a person and it seems like we are working towards a common goal. 

How do you think this can be one of these nourishing relationships that I’m talking about?”

An image of hands holding up a prize.
The prize frame. You are the prize not your client.

Time frame

The time frame is pretty strait forwards You set a deadline for your services. But, you can’t time pressure the client. Just be real and reasonable.

I just want to be transparent with you that I’m meeting 3 other brands in the same field as you later this week. I only have room for 1-2 new clients of your size at the moment. So, if this is something you feel is interesting to start up together, I would need and answer from you by Friday.” 

Moral Authority

The moral authority frame is a bit trickier (for me). In the book Oren explains it as there are professions and professional (and personal) statues that are hard to take down. His example is the doctor, who has one of the highest of moral authority frames. He points out that even the president of the united states listens when the doctor gives orders.

In a real-world example, he describes a conversation he had with a business acquaintance, where he basically gets told not to screw around and do his job. He describes the following line as the moral authority frame:

“We do things right over here, so no games, no missing deadlines, just clean and fair paper.”

What I think is the purpose of using the moral authority frame is to make the opposite part feel a bit guilty. Like when you are helping someone move, even if you don’t want to, but it’s a friend so you do it anyway. I haven’t figured this one out yet to a 100%. But I will make a new blog post about it when I do!

All this content is coming from me reading Oren Klaff’s book, Pitch Anything. I can’t recommend this book enough if you want to step up your pitch or presentation game. This book was also a part of my list of summer reads.

Do you find this post useful? Let me know by leaving a comment below or reach out on my Facebook page or Instagram or share it to a friend!

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