"Finally a way to follow-up, without me."
In person pitches are probably one of the best ways a startup can gain exposure and feedback in the shortest amount of time given a qualified audience.
Anybody can pitch.
Not everybody can pitch well. I’ve had some painful pitches in the past where I’ve walked off and felt like Sloth from the Goonies could have done a better job.
Pitching, and public speaking in general, takes practice. It helps when you can find someone who can give you honest feedback.
My someone has been DonnaLyn Giegerich of DonnaLyn Giegerich Consulting. She is a tremendous professional presence and speech empowerment coach among many other notable roles (i.e. non-profit advocate, wellness strategy coach, etc.).
Aside from focusing on slowing down my presentation - I credit DonnaLyn with giving me the idea for my openings and closings: “My name is John Genovese, I’m a Co-Founder of PolitePersistence, LLC. I help entrepreneurs and business owners put the ‘Muscle in Their Hustle’ by being politely persistent in business, leadership and life.”
This is important since I was invited to pitch PolitePersistence at the ever popular New Jersey Tech Meetup.
The following is the deck I pitched. I included notes specifically for SlideShare at the top of each slide.
One of the most important questions you have to ask yourself when pitching at an event like this “What do I want to get out of my pitch?”
Generally, there are three broad answers to this question:
3) End Users (i.e. Customers/Beta Testers/Subscribers/etc.)
My goal = Beta Testers and Subscribers
Here is a quick breakdown of how the deck is structured to attain maximum interest from potential beta users and subscribers:
1) Open With a Story That Expresses The Problem
2) Drill Home The Pain Point
3) Show The Solution Benefit
4) Show How It Works
5) Show Social Proof
6) Price Framing
7) Relate to Your Market
8) Call to Action & Close
At first glance it might seem like we are cramming a turkey in a tuna fish can but we’re not.
Having a strict five minute time frame actually forces you to clean up the fluff and get to the point. Here are some notes behind each of the steps in our pitch deck:
Stories help bring your audience into your world.
Your world is where you face your problem every day.
Without your story your audience may not even realize that they have the same problem as you.
The story should close with the character in dire need of a solution - your solution!
My story slides make up about 44% of my deck. This is because having a captivating story in your first minute is probably one of the most important elements to having a successful pitch.
Without a story to grab onto, the audience may not be able to properly frame the problem.
Takeaway: If you think you need help with crafting your story in your presentations Udemy offers a few classes on storytelling for presentations.
What is the culmination of your story? Why does your character realize he or she needs a solution? This point needs to be made blatantly clear in a visual way.
Having an anchor can help solidify the pain point in your audience’s mind. An anchor is anything for which your audience can already relate. You want your audience to “Get It” quickly. This is why you generally hear people describe their start up like this, “My business is like Pandora plus Facebook.”
An even better way to get your pain point across is to have two similar images, similar to slide 10 and 11. Your first image should display your pain point and when you flip to the next slide it should show how your solution alleviates the pain point. You’ll notice we show how PolitePersistence removes an additional step in someone’s workflow by eliminating the need for a follow up reminder.
Takeaway: Using our How-It-Works page as a template, draft your user story. Share it with us in the comments below and we’ll let you know if we ‘Get It’ quickly.
The solution benefit should be just that - a benefit. Lead with benefits first.
We make it very clear how PolitePersistence replaces an entire step in a workflow for the user. This is further emphasized in the actual presentation by stating that we save users: Time, Energy and Resources by never having to manually follow up ever again.
At the end of the day people want you to either save them something or make them something.
If you ever get stuck coming up with your benefit statement use Apple’s “1,000 Songs In Your Pocket” benefit statement for the iPod to help stir your creative juices. Short, sweet and to the point is what you want.
Takeaway: Having trouble coming up with your solution benefit? Finish this sentence about your product or business… “The Fastest & Easiest Way to ________”. This doesn’t have to be your benefit statement per se but it will help you identify your core value.
4) Show How It Works
It doesn’t matter how complex your product is - be able to articulate how it works with one slide. Remember 5 minutes is all you get.
If someone in the audience finds your offering intriguing they will seek you out to learn more.
Focus on showing the primary, happy path, flow or home base screenshot (if a software product). Of course, if a physical product then possibly showing a 10-15 second video would be equally effective.
If there is time allotted for questions then leaving some of the secondary details out of your “How It Works” slide will invite questions that you are ready to answer. For instance, I’ve found that when I forget to state that PolitePersistence has an auto turn off feature when someone replies, I will inevitably get this question.
Takeaway: For a real challenge, try to show how your product works in a seven second Vine video. Being forced to condense your process into 7 seconds will leave you with only what matters.
5) Show Social Proof
Social proof includes things like: Coverage from publication / blogs, awards and testimonials.
Remember “People Are Busy”. Even watching a five minute pitch might be a drain on some attention spans.
Because people are busy you need to qualify yourself within your pitch. Show that others have given you the ‘greenlight’ by highlighting testimonials or a “As seen in…” slide.
Takeaway: Attend local meetups that relate to your product or business and share what you’re working on with real people. Statistically, if you’re solving a problem and your MVP is clear then anywhere from 5-20% of the people you meet will want to know more about your product. Build relationships with these individuals and ask them for testimonials.
6) Price Framing
In most business / product pitches, the audience will want to see how you make money. Price framing is a soft way to deliver your pricing information.
Obviously, price framing does not work well for service oriented businesses like consulting, etc.
Price framing is the technique of taking the price you charge and comparing it to something which your audience can relate. We compare $4.99 to non-essential items in daily life. Think Frappuccinos.
Even if your product was, for instance, $49.99 you could say something like, “For the cost of buying yourself a fancy dinner you could have ____.”
Takeaway: How much do you charge for your product? What can you compare it to? Let us know what you come up with in the comments below and we’ll let you know if we “Get It.”
7) Relate To Your Market
It’s crucial to know your audience. Let’s say, you have a new innovative water bottle. Then water drinkers are your target audience. Obviously, there will be people in the audience who hate drinking water. Forget about trying to convert them in your pitch. This is an intimate moment between you and people in the audience who like to drink water.
Don’t be afraid to state who is your target audience. Doing so will let the qualified individuals know you’re talking to them.
We like to say that our qualified audience is anyone passionate about getting things done and see email as a tool to help them get there.
Putting a lot of emphasis on a closing statement like the following helps “Tie Up” your pitch with a nice bow: “Let PolitePersistence help you accelerate your growth, exposure and user base by never having to manually follow up by email ever again.”
Takeaway: Develop your Tie Up statement. Come up with a powerful statement that you’ll say at the end of your presentation to bring it all together and leave your qualified audience members wanting more.
8) Call to Action and Close
This is where the ‘PolitePersistence’ comes in.
When closing your pitch try and be able to give something away to your audience.
The more unique you can make it to that specific audience the better.
We offered the audience a free month of PolitePersistence by simply emailing me or signing up using the link on the last slide.
This was the goal from the start - to build up enough emotional and logical attachment to our product that by this last slide the qualified members of our audience would want to email us for that free one month beta access.
Takeaway: What can you give away to your audience? Maybe it’s a coupon, free access, limited promotional products, access to a private beta, etc. Make it unique and limited when possible.
Let us know in the comments below what other tips you have for pitching to get beta users or subscribers.