Marketing a Startup Business (2 of 3)

author’s note: 2nd of 3 parts of an essay first published in 2000. Check out part 1 here … jpm

Starting in the Middle

To get moving on step 1 – capturing the “vision” – we’ll start in the middle with the executive summary. This presentation will help gather the relevant “what”, “why”, and “how”, without going into too much detail or oversimplifying. A little structure now will allow you to quickly summarize the salient points into your elevator speech. In addition, the process of providing just enough information to make the summary presentation relevant will tee up a number of specific questions and issues that can and will be answered by the white paper.

Here is a suggested outline for your presentation. The first four slides are must-haves:

Slide 1) What’s the business situation – the “as-is”?

This can be an opportunity or a problem – but obviously, one that your “product” is uniquely able to address. Remember, this is not a complete business plan – you can focus on the short-term payoff for now; key thing is to establish relevance ASAP.

Slide 2) What is the proposed “solution” / alternative / new approach?

Here’s where you bullet / summarize your business idea. Note that you aren’t referring to your specific product or service, but an “amazing widget” that addresses this need.

Slide 3) What is (our new) Product X, and how does Product X uniquely address this problem / deliver this new approach?

It’s a good idea to put a name out there – a product / brand name, or a name for the service or process. This label serves as a convenient shorthand for your business idea, and neatly packages the idea in your prospect’s mind.

Slide 4) What is the Business Value?

No fluff here – you must provide examples of concrete, measurable business value that this idea will provide. You don’t have to go into a large numerical model – this could just be a tease for part of the white paper. However, you must lay out some salient examples, enough to whet a prospect’s interest in buying, or demonstrate to a prospective employee / team member that there is something to build on here.

Slide 5) Environmental Issues / Competitive Analysis / Alternatives

This slide’s contents will vary, depending on the product environment. You are primarily taking a little time to provide context for the audience, and to demonstrate you are familiar with the entire problem domain. It might be beneficial to do some environmental analysis, especially if regulatory or operational issues are changing the rules (note: do not repeat slide 1). You could talk about competing products or services, and continue with the differentiation theme of slide 3.

Slide 6) What Next?

The punch line; your call to action. Depending on the audience, you could be asking for money, a sale, another meeting, or a time commitment to work on some aspect of the new business. Whatever it is, do not waste the opportunity to get some commitment. The entire presentation should fit on 5-7 slides – you may need more than one to address some of the sections above. It is also critical to use the speaker notes feature of PowerPoint to augment the slide content with explanatory text – this becomes the stuff you give your audience for later, more detailed reading.

next … finishing it off

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