Marketing a Startup Business (3 of 3)

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

Address the Rest

The elevator speech follows rather quickly from the executive summary. The power of this “sound bite” is in it’s clarity and consistency – make sure that everyone involved in the organization can deliver it the same way. Remember, in a small company, everybody is a salesman!

Of course, the elevator speech should not be viewed as a static text that must be memorized by rote. It helps you deliver your message succinctly – but make sure to understand and leverage the context and the audience when describing your terrific idea.

The white paper, on the other hand, will involve a bit more work. The intent is to have a more authoritative, objective, and/or detailed treatment of key aspects of the executive summary. Specific items addressed in typical white papers can include (but are not limited to):

  • (for a statistical analysis process) A detailed technical outline of the theory and practice behind a complex cause-and-effect model
  • (for an innovative construction material) A technical analysis of the material properties of a new product, and a cost comparison to traditional materials
  • A competitive assessment of your competition, along with comparative cost models
  • A detailed cost-benefit model
  • Case studies of the product / process / service in successful implementations, complete with quantifiable results / payback
  • Detailed discussion / outline of a typical implementation project featuring your product / service (what might the customer expect)
  • (for a dot-com business) A treatment of the technical architecture of the solution, enough to prove the concept without giving away intellectual property

Next Steps

Armed with our idea-marketing tools, the next steps in our critical path can be addressed:

  1. Define and Engage a Team to flesh out your business plan. Convey the business idea to cautious, talented folks that can bring value to this new organization – and convince them to possibly invest time and effort for future returns.

Note: we have found an approach that it is less “politically charged” is to define team roles and responsibilities, and then identify people to take on the roles. This helps minimize cronyism (unless you want to start your business with your buddies).

  1. Capture and Resolve Critical Commercialization Issues. Before you get folks to quit there day jobs and start working full time on your ideas, you’ll need to resolve the inevitable critical commercialization issues – such as, who will we get our first sales from, and what will it take to close those deals?
  2. Create and Update the Business Plan. A good business plan is in essence a business-focused “white paper”, that lays out the content of the executive summary in greater detail, possibly accompanied by some of the business-oriented supporting detail found in the white paper.
  3. Drive to Commitment from investors and customers. When you have the compelling business idea, and you provide the idea-marketing tools to give your decision makers all the pertinent facts in a concise, complete package, it make the task of securing their commitment that much easier.

End Notes: For the Budding Entrepreneur …

As I mentioned in the beginning of this series, I was prompted to take the original essay out of mothballs by a high-energy entrepreneur who had found the original and wanted to pick my brain. Great fun to talk over the phone and work up a pitch; I’ve done this kind of thing for internal IT projects, startup ideas, and consulting work so often, it was quite easy to brainstorm up a fairly convincing “pitch”.

If you are looking for some help with a business idea, feel free to contact me; I’ve got years of old examples we could kick about.

Good luck with your great ideas!

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