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How to craft a compelling business pitch

 

BY OLIVIA OWENS, HEAD OF PARTNERSHIPS & GM OF IFWOC, IFUNDWOMEN

NOVEMBER 22, 2019


A day in the life of a founder: Wake up, turn off your alarm, and ask yourself something along the lines of the following questions:

Where are my customers and what are their needs?

Where can I find mentors who can help me navigate my startup journey?

How am I going to ensure my business stands out in my market? 

And that just represents one minute of your day. 

Sound familiar?

But here’s the deal, no matter the question, what it all boils down to is: What is the story that you are telling? Whether you’re trying to increase lead generation, seek someone out to be your mentor or differentiate yourself from your competition, the key to your success is your ability to tell an engaging story.

FUN FACT: Women are better crowdfunders than men because they’re better storytellers. You could have a superior product, but if you’re unable to explain to someone why they should buy it, you’re not going to see the numbers you know your product deserves.

So what are the components of a great story? It’s not as simple as a beginning, middle, and end. It comes down to delivering the right piece of information at the right time. A perfect example of this is this video from Intentionalist Founder & CEO, Laura Clise.

 

What makes Laura’s video stand out to us? It’s all about the story structure. As a result of coaching hundreds of entrepreneurs through crowdfunding, pitch competitions, raising VC and more, we’ve developed a story structure that we know works.

  1. Open with a one-liner: Holding someone’s attention is near-impossible in the digital age so, don’t bury the lead. Make sure within the first 15-seconds you tell the listener what your business is, who it helps, and why. Leave out your personal story here, or your motivations. You’ll have time for this later and your listener needs to know where this story is going in order to pay proper attention.

    i.e. IFundWomen is a startup funding platform that provides female entrepreneurs with access to the capital, coaching and connections they need to launch and grow better businesses.

     

  2. Now, identify the problem you’re solving: You want to make sure that anyone, whether they’re in your target audience or not, understands why your business needs to exist.

    This means taking a two-pronged approach: 

    1. Tap into the pain points that your customer feels to help the listener identify as your customer.

    2. Use data to show the scale and larger impact of this problem.

      i.e. Only 1% of founders regardless of their gender will ever raise venture capital, so what are the 99% of startup founders supposed to do to fund their business? (DATA) That typically means maxing out your credit card or trying to take out a bank loan and we firmly believe that you should not go into debt funding the earliest days of your startup. (PAIN POINT)

       

  3. Then explain how your product or service solves this problem: At this point, you’ve drawn in your audience and now they want to know what your product or service is going to do for them. This is where you want to tell them what makes you different from your competitors, how you are addressing the problems you just outlined and how your product or service is going to make their lives so much easier.

    i.e. IFundWomen drives funding to female entrepreneurs through a flexible crowdfunding platform with a pay-it-forward model, expert coaching, professional video production & creative services, and a community for our entrepreneurs. As a result, our entrepreneurs are exponentially more prepared than the entrepreneurs who use other platforms to raise money, to the tune of raising 27x the crowdfunding industry average.

     

  4. Demonstrate the importance of your target customers/audience: This is particularly useful when you’re talking to someone who isn’t within your target audience. You want to help them understand the vastness of this problem and how many people are impacted. This is also known as your TAM (Total Addressable Market). When you’re talking to investors, it’s so important to portray the larger opportunity that’s ahead of them if they invest in you.

    i.e. Our customers are every single female entrepreneur who is ideating, building, launching, pivoting, or marketing a product or service. There are 111 M of us globally, 12.3M in the US alone, and the US market is growing 2.5x faster than the average.

     

  5. Show them why you are uniquely qualified to start & run this business: Often times when we ask female entrepreneurs what their business is they’ll start with, “Well, five years ago I was…” and you might be a minute in before you get a clear picture of their business. This is what we mean by don’t bury the lead. There is absolutely a place for your personal story within this larger story, but it’s all about timing. This 5th step is your opportunity to show why you chose to start this venture, why you’re so passionate about it and why you’re the person to lead this business to success.

    i.e. The IFundWomen team is uniquely qualified to support our customers. We bring product, brand, and monetization expertise from Google, YouTube, JPMorgan. We are also our own customers and know first hand what it's like to struggle to raise debt-free capital to start a business.

     

  6. Close with a call to action: A compelling story is one thing, but you need to also create the hook. Any time you’re talking to someone about your business you want to make sure you have a specific and time-bound call to action geared towards that person. Whether you’re raising funds through crowdfunding or you’re talking to a potential mentor, make sure your audience walks away with a very clear understanding of what you want them to do and when you want them to do it.

    “Check it out!” or “What do you think”? are vague calls to actions. For crowdfunding, highlight a specific reward that you think would be perfect for them (i.e. “I recommend you buy my Spotify playlist, its great for your morning run”). For a mentor, outline how much of their time you’re looking for and what exactly you need (i.e. “Are you available for a 30-minute call where I can review my plan with you?”). Don’t leave them guessing or any room for them to suggest an answer that is outside of your question and need.  

This structure isn’t meant to limit you either. Once you have a draft of your story down, make sure your brand voice is coming through. Think about your audience and what language is going to resonate with them. Ask yourself what’s going to get them to engage. We love this video from SheFly for exactly that reason. They were able to incorporate each key piece of information while maintaining their brand’s quirky personality.

You don’t have to be an expert marketer to tell an effective story that closes deals. With the right tools and resources, you can craft the story your business needs to achieve your goals. Make sure you download our IFundWomen Method Playbook to get access to our pitch script template. 


Once you have the story down, it’s about getting it in front of as many people as possible and the best way to do that is through video. People retain 95% of the information they receive through video versus 10% through text. Why do you think most pitch decks start with a video? A video is a no-brainer and our video production team is here to help and if you hit a wall our coaches are standing by to give you the support you need!