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How to create a killer pitch

Firstly your presentation, supporting document or deck, whatever you would like to call it. Many people create one version with all the necessary info, but experts recommend making three versions. Spending a little extra time doing this can lead to being funded much more quickly, or being given more funding.

The three versions are as follows:

 
  • The Teaser. This should give investors everything they need to decide if they want to look into it further, not too in depth, and as attractive as possible. Similar to a brief marketing brochure.
     
  • The Presentation. If you are to give a live pitch or presentation, this is what you’ll present in front of. It should include mainly images, as text will detract from you as the speaker. You shouldn’t be reading from a presentation at any point, and neither should the audience.
     
  • The Leave-Behind. What you leave with a potential investor after a meeting to refresh their mind and give an overview of your main points. 
     
Tell a story.

Yes, your pitch should include all the facts and figures needed, and investors won’t make support you if the numbers don’t predict success, however they are human, and humans respond to stories. If your numbers and plans are good, telling the narrative of your brand can create empathy for the investor, and make them more likely to say yes. It also quite simply makes your pitch more interesting and have more depth, rather than a flat presentation on business forecast and stats.

Think from the investor’s perspective.

This is a fundamental in marketing but is so often forgotten by even the biggest brands. Marketing text should always talk from the customers’, or in this case the investors’ point of view. As you write the document, ask yourself ‘why should the investor care?’. Each and every paragraph should be from this perspective and should focus on the benefits and effects for the investor, not just why your business idea is amazing.

Make it readable.

Once you’ve written your deck, read it back out loud. For some reason reading it aloud makes it easier for your brain to process, and to notice mistakes. As you’re reading it, think about how it sounds. If it reads like a corporate document, you will probably find that the reader will lose interest or struggle to engage with it. Ideally your text should sound like a conversation.

On the same note, don’t use long words and jargon for the sake of it – only if it makes it read well. Using shorter sentences and well-chosen words will have a far greater impact, so try and refine your paragraphs as much as you can.

Personalise

In the same way you would research a company before going for a job interview, you should research the investor before you send your document out or meet them. Although it will take time, it has a high payoff when done well. Consider whether the investor tends to choose companies analytically or emotionally, then arrange the order of your deck pages to focus on that first. You can even consider adding their name to the front cover, addressing the deck to them. It shows a level of care and might lead to them reading a little more carefully.

Okay now you have your deck, how do you go about finding investors to pitch? There are a few ways, and Google will be your best friend throughout this process.

Introductions

Do you know anyone that knows an investor? Your network is a key instrument here – if someone you know dan provide a warm introduction to an investor you’re already on the front foot with them. You’ll still need to provide a great pitch but you’ve got your foot in the door.

LinkedIn

As we all know, LinkedIn has come on massively over the last two years and is now a key place to research within the business world. Read about the investor’s interests, contacts, businesses and past investments to get a feel for them. Then, consider sending a message to them with your Teaser Deck.

Networking groups

You might be lucky enough to meet an investor at one, but more likely you’ll grow your network and find someone to refer you to an investor. Aside from the fact that growing your business network is highly valuable in itself!

Business schools/universities

Look at those closest to you geographically first, and give them a call. They often have a network of investors or successful entrepreneurs they might be able to refer you to. At the very least they will be able to let you know who they are, and then you can use Google to find out more!

Keep track of your industry

Find the right time to pitch. Stay up to date with what’s happening in the industry your business is in by reading news and updates consistently. You’ll soon get a feel for the right time to contact investors.

Now you’re ready to pitch, so here’s some tips to make sure you’re successful!

Write it out, and practice, practice, practice!

It’s easy to forget points when you’re speaking in front of someone, so write out your entire pitch and practice it until you know it back to front. It’s much much easier to think on your feet and make it engaging if you’re not worried about forgetting what you’re saying. 

Consider asking friends or family to hear it and give you honest feedback. You’re first time presenting to someone shouldn’t be in front of an investor, as most people find it surprisingly nerve-wracking speaking in front of anyone!

Know the answers

Do some research and work out what investors are likely to ask. There’s plenty of Dragons Den and Shark Tank to keep you going, and YouTube has an endless amount of pitching videos for you to learn from. If they ask you a question that you don’t know the answer to, it’s likely you’ll come across as unprepared and not ready to run your business.

Know when to stop

Your presentation should be concise. No one wants to listen to a 30 minute pitch, so keep it short and simple. Investors will know which questions to ask if there’s anything they specifically want to know, and when you know the answer it can help you to look knowledgeable.

If an investor asks no questions, then your pitch was too long or they had no interest.
 
What’s in it for the investor?

Similar to writing your deck, consider what’s in it for the investor. Throughout your pitch, always refer to what the investor will get out of your business if they invest in you. 

What’s the pain point?

Your business offers a solution to problem, otherwise it’s not going to be successful. What pain point will a consumer feel for your product/service to appeal? This is a really key aspect, especially if the pain point is a commonly felt one across a wide audience. The investor will see this as having an appeal to a large market, which will help the business to be successful.

What’s the solution and what are the benefits?

The expression ‘sell the hole, not the drill’ sums this point up pretty well. It’s based on the concept that people don’t buy a drill because they want a drill. They buy a drill because they need to make a hole. Consider what your product or service can give the consumer – beyond the obvious. For example, if your product saves time, come up with examples of what that time saving means. If it saves money, think about what that money could be spent on.

What’s your USP?

What is it that sets you apart from others in your industry? Why are you different and what will make you stand out to your audience? Particularly key if you’re pitching something that is in a crowded marketplace.

Be enthusiastic and engaging

This should go without saying, but if you’re not enthusiastic about your business then why should the investor be? Record yourself pitching and see how it sounds from the listeners perspective, or ask for feedback from trusted friends. You might be surprised at the result!

Don’t argue.

It’s easy to take offence when investors comment negatively or don’t like something. You’ve put endless hard work into your business idea and plan, and it’s never nice to be criticised. However, investors will often tell you what don’t like about your business plan. Sometimes it is to test you and see how you respond, and sometimes they are just honest as they see so many pitches.

Remember there’s a fine line between being confident in your vision, and standing up for that, and being unable to take feedback. Investors will want to see that you are coachable and can listen, no one wants to work with someone who is completely inflexible.


So, get planning and good luck with finding investment! If you follow these helpful tips you will be much better placed to pitch and win investors hearts and minds!

If you’d like even more info or to see this in practice, come along to the Northern Business Expo on 17th & 18th March at Manchester Central. It’s free to visit, and you can attend masterclasses on winning funding, as well as meeting a variety of funding companies. 

Aside from that, why not enter the £5k Pitch? It’s a competition that’s free to enter, and successful entrants will have the opportunity to pitch live at the event and one outstanding entrepreneur will win £5000 cash! Simply get your free ticket today, and enter online!

 
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