It is surprising how many times social entrepreneurs fail to follow the simple steps to a successful and powerful pitch. I am often left scratching my head and wondering why. When you pitch, social investors want solutions, not problems. If they wanted an education on the issue, they could read a report or join a course. You’ve got to demonstrate that your venture not only has the solution but also a savvy and sustainable business model, all within a few fleeting minutes.
It is well known that we don’t like to leave our comfort zones, but repeating the same style and content for every social investment pitch will, as the old saying goes, only lead to one outcome: if we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll always get the same. So to get new results, new deals, and new investment, I have 10 top tips for all you budding social entrepreneurs- and maybe even the old pros that could use a reminder!
1. Practice, practice, practice.
Ensure that you have practiced the content, the delivery, the timing to a tee! Don’t hobble yourself by poor preparation. This is your moment to shine.
2. Have a powerful elevator pitch.
Within the first 2 minutes of the opening pitch you should have successfully provided a short, simple and memorable, ‘what’, ‘how’ and ‘why.’
3. Don’t spend too long outlining the social problem.
Outlining the social problem helps you establish emotional context, secure the attention of the people listening and share what provoked you to create your social venture. As important as this narrative is, it is the area that you should give no more than 1-2 minutes of a pitch. Remember, social investors are familiar and often all too aware of the problems society faces, what they don’t know (and more importantly, what they want to hear from you) is your solution!
4. Do spend time on articulating the social solution.
On the basis that my biggest tip is that you focus on telling your audience what they don’t know, and paying far, far less attention to what the audience will already know (i.e. the problem) it is key that you cover the following topics:
– How and why your solution is innovative
– Your place in the market and an outline of competitors
All good pitches should outline how it makes customers happy, how it’s better and different to the existing products/services out there. It’s important to recognise that maybe you’re not the best solution to ALL customers, but you might be the best solution to X customers – i.e. you offer a niche.
5. Articulate how you intend to communicate and reach your buyers and customers.
With the best idea in the world, you still need to effectively broadcast your message and win repeat business!
6. Convey your skills, expertise, contacts and passion.
The social entrepreneur is the driving force and passion of a social venture. At the same time, don’t forget to outline the staff, volunteers, board members and partners that you have in place to support your organisation to grow.
7. The crucial step – ‘The Investment Ask’
If you’re trying to pitch to people for money, have a clear frame of reference for how much money you’re asking for and how you would spend it. Ideally have three budgets in mind which cater for different investment opportunities – small, medium and large. You should be able to demonstrate that each amount of money will be able to get you to a certain milestone. i.e.
– I need this much capital to run operations
– This much to pay headcount/ staff and
– I may need this much to acquire customers.
Ultimately, you should demonstrate an understanding of exactly what you need the money for, what you’ll do with it and how you plan to make money on the back of it.
8. Never read the text on the slide out loud.
People can read faster than they can listen. Remember the last time you saw a presenter do this. It made you feel slightly awkward, didn’t it?
9. Answer EVERY question.
If you do get interrupted, what should you do? Listen. If they interrupt you, it usually means they care enough about your product to ask you something. So don’t go right back to your presentation, answer their question properly – you’ve got their attention.
10. My final tip is that fun is infectious. So try and enjoy yourself and good luck! You’re on your way to investment success.
This blog entry was part of the first Venture Network Newletter.