This post was contributed to VentureApp by David Mandell, CEO and co-founder of PivotDesk, a company that specializes in helping businesses — big and small — make smart real estate decisions by matching them with flexible office space solutions.
When it comes to selling your business (or selling yourself), you need to start by admitting one key thing to yourself:
No one actually cares what you do until you show them why they should.
And the best means to engaging with your audience — whether your audience is investors, press or even a prospective hire — is to connect to whatever “pain” they are experiencing, with a simple and compelling message: your pitch.
But getting to simple can be incredibly complex.
In our case, we made the pitch priority #1 from the very beginning.
It’s instinctive for me to want to solve the pitch first (my entire career has been focused on message!). Couple that with the fact that we were part of Techstars ‘12, we had no choice but to narrow in on our message.
We worked on our pitch nearly all 3 months of the Techstars program.
Here’s a look at how our pitch evolved. On the left, you’ll see what our pitch could have been. Everything written there is technically accurate, yet the message is utterly forgettable.
The version on the right connects with the true pain our target audience is feeling, while also providing our service as a differentiator.
|A Bad Pitch||A Good Pitch|
|My name is David Mandell and I’m the CEO of PivotDesk, a technology enabled real estate platform that enables monthly transactions based on a thirty-day renewable agreement between hosts and guest companies.||Real estate is static. Businesses are dynamic. When you’re out there busting your ass, the last thing you want to do is bet your business on a five-year lease when you don’t know how your business will be doing five months from now. When you do have to commit to a long-term lease, you should be able to offset your unused space to drive value for your business to hire another developer or invest in marketing. That’s what PivotDesk does. We help you grow your business the way it should grow, not the way real estate dictates. We pair you with companies that are a good cultural match and put you in a relationship where you can share space as long as it works for both sides.|
As you can see, it’s not about buzzwords, but rather about developing a meaningful and relevant message. Below is a chart that lays out all the components of a strong pitch, using PivotDesk as an example.
Can you divide your pitch into these key sections? If not, it may be time to go back to the drawing board.
|Target audience||Be specific about who you matter to most. If you’re good for everybody, you’re good for nobody.||Entrepreneurs struggling to grow their business within a static real estate structure.|
|Address the pain||Pain connects you emotionally to your audience. Find out what they’re struggling with and call it out.||Entrepreneurs who want to grow their business, but don’t want to commit to a long-term lease or want to offset unused space to drive more value for their company.|
|Provide a solution||Tell them how you’ll make their pain go away. This is your unique value proposition.||PivotDesk helps businesses focus on growth and culture instead of costly office space by enabling them to work outside traditional CRE parameters.|
|As opposed to||Frame what you do against your competitors or the pain point that’s challenging them for their time.||Engaging in costly leases for office space you can’t effectively optimize or monetize.|
|Differentiation||Explain why your are unlike the competition.||We pair companies with extra space with companies that aren’t ready for a long-term lease with a solution that works for both parties as long as it needs to.|
Make it count
Once you’ve nailed this structure, it’s time to focus on incorporating your pitch into everything you do as a business.
One other critical thing to remember is that too many people think the pitch is just about ‘the pitch.’ In reality, the pitch becomes the basis of many things that are critical to the overall company. When you’re starting out, keeping everyone focused is critical. The best way to do that is to make sure everyone on the company knows the pitch because it gives them a lens with which to focus their activities. When you’re planning around product or marketing, the pitch becomes the guidelines against which you can make priority development decisions as well as filter marketing spend or activities.
So, it’s not just about giving a presentation. Remember, a proper pitch can act like a backbone for your entire business early on. Don’t overlook its strategic value and spend the time necessary to get it right from the start.
Iterate or die
No matter what stage you’re in, it’s never too late to perfect your pitch. Fact is – if your current pitch isn’t causing investors to look up from their phones and sit up straight in their chairs, you’ve got more work to do. If customers aren’t registering in droves or your employees aren’t paddling in the same direction, it may be time to rework that pitch. What you started with may not be where you end up. That’s okay. Business is dynamic. Nailing your pitch is one way to keep up.
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