(By Stan Polit)
Some small business ideas are born great. Others take a bit more effort to get off the ground. Often the most important first step in jump-starting your business is putting together the perfect pitch. The stakes are high. You know a well-thought out pitch can create buzz, help you gain capital and turn your vision into a reality. You know a bad pitch can stop your business in its tracks.
Too many client and investor pitches go poorly just because the presenter lacks a clear plan. You wouldn’t run your business without a business plan, so why approach your pitches differently? Creating a pitching plan can be a powerful first step in crafting a message that is cohesive and impactful. No two pitches are the same, but there are some big ideas points which every successful pitch should cover. Here are the four Ps to consider when putting together your pitch.
Product: Context matters. To capture a client or investor’s attention, you need more than just a great business idea. You need a great story—a story that shows you have a clear sense of your business’s past, present and future.
Spend some time thinking about the larger narrative behind your business. Build your pitch around the kinds of questions the client or investor is likely to ask. What problem or challenge motivated your business concept? What growth strategies are you currently using? What does the future of your business look like? By preemptively answering these questions within your pitch, you can help your audience transition from being risk-focused to opportunity-focused.
Price: Talking about your business is exciting. Talking about pricing can be awkward. You don’t want a scenario where the potential client or investor loves what your business offers, but not what it costs. If this happens, an otherwise successful pitch can quickly go off the rails.
Remember, pricing information is just data and numbers unless you give it context. Spend some time building a narrative around your pricing rationale. Use storytelling to show how this price is not arbitrary, but a figure based on a thorough understanding of your business and the market. Building a framework around your pricing strategy will signal to investors that you have the business skills needed to use capital to make informed, data-driven decisions.
Promotion: No one likes a hard sell. That doesn’t mean you should be afraid to showcase the best parts of your business. If your client is listening, it’s safe to assume they already value your idea. How much they value that idea is up to you.
When promoting your business to a potential client, focus less on selling and more on framing. Be future-focused. Frame out for your client what this collaboration would look like. How does the future of their business fit with the future of yours? Embracing a future-oriented approach signals to the client that you’re organized and poised for growth.
Perspective: Listening always comes at a cost. Hearing your pitch requires a client or investor to sacrifice time, resources and a piece of their ever-shortening attention span. Investors and clients are busy people. Therefore, every part of your pitch must be tailored to provide only the most vital information they need to make an informed decision.
When preparing your pitch, put yourself in the shoes of your prospective client or investor. What distractions do you think they’re facing? What are the kinds of pitfalls they likely encounter in their everyday work? Thinking about these answers helps you refine your pitch so it only includes the exact information they need to hear.
There is no single recipe for creating the perfect pitch. A successful pitch is as unique as your business. Luckily, by having a clear pitch strategy, you can feel confident that you’re presenting your business in the best light possible.