If you’re a senior person at a startup chances are you are pitching a lot of people including investors, business partners, customers, prospects, media and analysts. It might be tempting to build one pitch and re-use it for each of those meetings. Don’t do it! Recycling is good for the environment but it’s very dangerous for your startup. Each of those audiences are very different and therefore require very different pitches.
Key elements of a pitch that vary a LOT depending on who you are pitching to including:
- Value proposition - it’s obvious but the reason a person might want to invest in your company is different from why someone might want to buy your product/service. Why a company might want to partner with you is likely not related to why a reporter may want to write a story about you.
- Stories – Great pitches include stories to illustrate the points they are trying to make. Those points are different for each audience, therefore the stories are different.
- Call to Action – What you want someone to do as a result of the pitch is different for each audience as well. Convincing someone to take the next step to purchase is not at all like convincing an analyst you should be in their next report.
And here are some examples of different audiences along with some key things they need to hear in your pitch:
1/ Investors – care about things like your business model, the size of your addressable market, the alternative solutions in your market, your revenue/expense plan and your go to market strategy. They care about whether or not your company fits into their portfolio in terms of stage, market and technology. Unlike most other audiences, they care a lot about the team members and their experience.
2/ Partners – care about how you’ll make money together and how you will work together operationally. Depending on the partnership you may need to describe how the functionality of your product fills a gap in their current offerings or how you position yourself against other partners that they currently have agreements with.
3/ Analysts – care about how you position yourself against other offerings in the market, how many customers you have, how quickly you are growing, how disruptive you are to the market status quo and what target markets you are going after. They often care more about how you position yourself against very large and very small competitors than your prospects ever will. This is a key difference between an analyst pitch and a prospect pitch – you often don’t want to point out obscure competitors to prospects. Analysts want to hear about your longer-term vision and how it aligns with the vision of other companies in the market.
4/ Media – care about what’s new and interesting to talk about and remember that what’s new and interesting to you might not be interesting for them or their readers. Better scalability in your latest release isn’t nearly as interesting as a story about how your service has transformed someone’s life or their business. Media cares a lot about what your success can tell them about trends or the future.
5/Prospects – care mainly about how you are going to solve their problems better than anyone else in the market. They want to hear about how other customers like them use your product and the value they see from using it. They care about how hard it is to use, how long it takes to learn it, how much it costs to buy and (sometimes, not always) whether or not you are going to be in business a year from now.
6/ Existing Customers – are the only group that cares about the subset of features that happen to be new in your latest release. They want to hear about other products in your portfolio, new partnerships and what it means to them and changes in pricing or support. Existing customers (sometimes, not always) care about your product roadmap and vision.
Lastly, don’t forget to do your homework on who you are pitching and fine tune it accordingly. For investors, for example, pay special attention to their current investments – it will give you clues as to what types of markets the have a deep understanding of. For analysts it’s extremely important to understand each analyst’s view of your market before you build a pitch. For customers, get the current status and in particular find out if there are open support issues. For prospects, where it makes sense, use customer examples that mirror their situation (in terms of business problem and/or industry) as closely as possible.