Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Entrepreneur's Pitch: Keep it Tidy

Keep your pitch tidy.
I've mentored many entrepreneurs over the years – they usually come from a "maker" background in that they make things. Typically, they make physical products or they are software engineers. Most of them are in the midst of their careers as individual contributors. They usually work quietly at their desks without much interaction with others. While this is great for their productivity, it doesn't give them the soft people skills to communicate clearly when interacting with other people.

I've listened to some entrepreneurs take 15 or 30 minutes to explain to me what their product does. That's 60 times too long. For a conversation opener, it should take a couple sentences to tell someone what your company or product does. Longer than that and people lose interest and they're not going to want to work with you.

If you don't know how to do this then practice. Start off with telling the listener if your "thing" is a product or service. "We manufacture an LED light that's an alarm clock for your nightstand which is more effective at waking you up compared to an alarm clock."

That single sentence is how I'd describe TheUplight. Most importantly, it leads with the benefits, not the features. From that sentence, the listener can follow up with their own questions, i.e., "Why is it more effective?" which the entrepreneur behind The UpLights responds with, "The UpLight gently prepares your body for waking up to reduce morning stress and increase productivity throughout the day."

The problem with listing a litany of features is that customers then have to figure out how those features would be of benefit. I know this sounds simple, but it can be very difficult to focus on what's marketable. For example, "it's patented" isn't marketable. While that tidbit is marketable to venture capitalists, it's not a buying decision factor for consumers. I don't care if I buy a patented or patent pending product. Big whoop. So, knowing your audience is important, too. But, regardless of your audience, make your point succinctly. There's a lot of noise out there.

Here's one of the best example I know of about succinct marketing, "1,000 Songs in your Pocket."

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