It’s something that’s becoming increasingly hard to do. We’re living during a time when inflation is rising, and economic growth seems to be shrinking.
Despite all that, investors raised over $621 billion for start-ups globally in 2021.
If you’re looking for funding, it’s essential that you clearly articulate why an investor should put the capital and resource into you and your vision. There is still opportunity but less room for error.
Getting your pitch right is not only about having the right idea or technology. It’s about telling your story better than anyone else out there.
That’s how you break through the noise.
So, how exactly do you do that?
First, remember the eight-second rule.
The average attention span is only eight seconds long, so finding the story that resonates immediately is essential when keeping an investor engaged. It’s harder to create a short pitch than to write a long one. It’s your job to distill–not the investor’s.
Eight seconds isn’t a lot of time– you’ve got to be concise and transparent in the problem you’re solving with your tech, the team you have (or are building) to make it a reality, how you’re going to scale and delivery, and the impact your business will have on the market and the world.
The Three Components of a Great Pitch Deck
You know that elevator pitch you practice in the mirror? The one where you have 30 seconds to sell yourself and your idea that’s what your pitch deck should be. Your language should be accessible and clear. Your message should be direct. And the ask shouldn’t be buried.
You need clear language, a strategic structure, and a compelling story.
1. Is your message clear?
Reid Hoffman, VC and LinkedIn co-founder, said, “In a single year, the classic general partner in a venture firm is exposed to around 5,000 pitches … and ends up doing between zero and two deals.” This means you need to make an impact quickly.
The best way to do that is to simplify. Meaning, cut where you can. Get down to the bare bones of your story. Use strong language to relay that story without running up your word count.
And once you think you’ve simplified your message enough, we suggest going back, re-reading, and attempting to cut once more. In doing this, you get clarity.
For us, there’s a big difference between the two; in our experience, simplicity and clarity often go hand in hand. Clarity boils down to effectiveness. It’s succinct writing that gets directly to the point. Simplicity means as little as possible. Minimal. Let what you say matter.
Even if you’re pitching the most complex, innovative technology, this pitch needs to be understandable to the layman walking down the street. It will be an easy pass if you make an investor work too hard to understand what you’re doing and what you’re asking for.
2. Is your structure strategic?
The structure of your pitch deck is just as important as the content itself.
Each slide holds its position, not as a placeholder, but to build a message. When structured correctly, the message by the end of your deck does not ask the investor if they want to invest but forces them to ask themselves why they wouldn’t invest.
We suggest starting simply.
As an example: can we all agree that global warming exists? The obvious answer is yes. Great, can we all agree that something must be done to combat climate change? Again, an obvious yes. Here’s where you now introduce your solution: what if I told you I have the technology to help corporations lower their carbon footprint? And then, the rest of your pitch breaks down how you systematically plan to do that.
Once you have that buy-in, everything else is ten times easier. Your audience member is already committed to what you have to say. And then, the rest of your story and structure further validate this idea you presented at the beginning.
You should include case studies, your ask, how your tech works, what your team looks like, and your use of proceeds. All of these details further support the idea you introduced at the beginning.
Not all narrative structures are the same; therefore, not all pitch decks should follow the same design or pattern. Your pitch deck is as unique as your business. The narrative should reflect that.
When writing, keep in mind: you can’t be everything to everyone. So, it’s not worth trying. You need to know who you are and who your target audience is. Then, do your research. What kind of technology do they invest in and why? What about their backgrounds, their belief systems? How are you meeting their needs? Speak to them directly.
Preparation (including making a powerful and strategic presentation) is 95% of the work.
3. Is your story compelling?
Your story is not a summary of the company and its genesis.
It’s so much more than that.
The nuts and bolts offer support and validation. They’re necessary, but the inspiring, action-catalyst, emotional driver is something else entirely.
It’s the ethos of your existence. Why do you exist? What problem are you solving? And why are YOU and your team the best people to solve it? When the nuts and bolts are stripped away, your story should feel compelling and make your audience sit on the edge of the seat, eager to find out more.
Consider a story you love. It doesn’t have to be investor related. It could be Harry Potter. It could be The Shining. It could be an essay from The New Yorker. Whatever it is, take a moment to reflect on it. The author, thoughtfully and intentionally, created a moment right at the beginning to connect with you. To get your buy-in and commitment. To get you to care. Think of a story you love, and about that moment you decided to go all-in on the characters and plot. Think about the moment that got you.
That same rule needs to be applied here. That moment needs to get your reader. It’s how they stay on the hook. It’s why they care about you and your product/service.
Now the obvious question: what is that moment? What is it made of?
Heart. Be authentic. That’s how you tell a compelling story. Mean it. People don’t just buy what you do; they buy why you do it.
How One Company Created a Pitch Deck that Landed
Late last year, we partnered with a company focused on providing companies with agility software. They worked in an industry desperate for technology that supported efficiency and agility.
The CEO knew how to tell the story with intrigue and conviction, and simplify and clarify the complex technology. Still, he had some trouble negotiating story structure in a way that would make the most significant impact.
We gathered information about specific use cases and case studies for which this software worked. With that in mind, we focused on clearly stating the company’s purpose, the problem they were solving, and demonstrating the massive value of the underserved market.
The story’s impact and tech were emphasized in how we told the story. We created a deck that hooked investors and showcased that the CEO understood what the company did, its place in the market, and how it could penetrate an underserved area for incredible gains before the deck even discussed product functionality, business model, or financials in depth.
A few months later, they had an additional twenty million sitting in the bank.
If you have clear language, a strategic structure, and a bold story, you can’t help but create a competitive and compelling deck.
Find Your Investors with Your Strategic Competitive Advantage
Your advantage lies in your ability to tell your story strategically and clearly.
Whether looking for a seed round or ready for IPO, we’re excited to be your partner as you reach the next phase in your company’s journey. We’d love to talk about how CREATIVE BLUE and our STRATEGIC STORYTELLING methodology can help you create deliverables that stand out.