This presentation was delivered to an audience made up of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and company advisors who were preparing to present at the Mid-Atlantic Venture Association's 2009 Capital Connection.
Audience: CEOs, Entrepreneurs Goal: They want to get funding. They want to generate some visibility. They want to find partners. Challenge: Simplify how they explain their technology Tend to be too technical and provide too much information Often highlight features instead of benefits Talk for too long on certain sections and run out of time Use too many bullets on each slide Try to cram too much information Recite facts and figures instead of telling stories to connect with your audience Given our background in technology marketing for venture-backed companies I’m excited to speak with you today. At CreatiVerge, many of our clients have already completed the process you are just now beginning and have gone on to achieve significant growth and have successful exits. With this is mind, I thought it would be helpful to share with you some tips and tactics for getting the most of your Capital Connection experience.
As a marketer, the natural way for us to look at an event like Capital Connection is using a sales funnel like this. I thought it might be helpful to frame our discussion around each activity throughout the process that will lead you closer to a meeting with a investor and eventually a term sheet. The main Media Announcement as well as your media outreach efforts will be your first opportunity for added exposure This will generate traffic to your web site where some investors and attendees will try and learn what you do. Goal is to generate some excitement ahead of time and recognition later at the event. Once the event begins your company profile will be the most referenced material in making a decision to attend your presentation Your presentation itself will determine whether or not an investor is interested in learning more about your company at your booth. And an impressive demo and interaction with your management team is your best chance at landing an initial meeting with a venture capital firm or private equity fund. I’ll quickly visit each area and provide some tips and suggestions for how to improve each one while preparing for Capital Connection.
After the press release is dropped and the announcement has been made your own media outreach will be important to increase your visibility If you want to leverage the announcement to generate momentum around your company Knowing who to contact and how to do so effectively.
“ Editors and journalists agree that e-mail pitches should be more relevant to their beat/area of interest” Problem: As anyone who has handled media relations will tell you, it’s simply a waste of time to take a shotgun approach to pitching Story: Knowing which key messages are most compelling to reporters, bloggers and Twitter followers will increase the success of your story appearing in print or online. it’s important to realize that the media are just like venture capitalists They each have their own background, technology focus and expertise. You wouldn’t pitch your cleantech startup to a fund that specializes in new media And you wouldn’t pitch a life sciences reporter about your latest higher education software release
Know who writes about your industry Whether in Newspapers, business magazines, trade publications, blogs and social media Read their articles. Comment on their blog posts. Follow them on Twitter. Be a part of their community. Someone in your organization needs to know who they are and what they write about This is what you’ll use to build the list of reporters, publications and bloggers that you want to reach out to
Topics Once you have your list, it’s important to know what topics they care about. Depending on which reporter or publication you’re targeting, you’ll tailor your pitch a different way General business reporters might be interested in a unique local angle, such as job growth or an interesting fact While a trade magazine reporter might be interested in an in-depth product review or customer case study It helps if you are familiar with the the topics they write about and can position your story as newsworthy and relevant Nothing frustrates a journalist more than getting spammed with press releases about stories they care nothing about Be sure your story angle is tailored to that reporter, because when it comes to the media, one size does not fit all. Your goal is to build long-term, trusted relationships with the media and respecting their time is the best place to start
Overall Media Strategy Build Momentum Story Type of coverage Once you’ve tailored your pitch it’s time to start spreading the news. It’s important to think how your selection announcement might fit into your overall media strategy. The key is to use this announcement to build momentum for your company and other news announcements. From product launches and customer wins to analyst reviews and executive hires The right news can be of interest to reporters, bloggers or Twitter followers. By releasing a steady stream of positive news, the industry to take notice of your continuous activity Once you have a relevant story to share, begin your outreach by issuing a press release, submitting blog comments, posting on Twitter and updating your LinkedIn or Facebook status. While not every reporter will be interested in your story, it’s important to set up Google Alerts to monitor any coverage you do receive. This is equally important for keeping tabs on the competition. Typically selection announcements receive very little pickup. Funding announcements receive a more targeted response in venture newsletters, business journals and mentions in industry publications. Knowing this ahead of time will help you set your expectations accordingly.
As soon as the selection announcement is made, your web site will be the first place potential investors and attendees will look for details on your company, management team and products. Before they visit, there are a few things you’ll want to do to make sure your web site is ready for the attention.
“ The first paragraph of your homepage should explain concisely what you do. The next paragraph should set you apart.” A lot of technology web sites do little to fix this problem let alone articulate what makes their company different or better than the competition. This is such a common problem that Robert Scoble in his Scobleizer blog gave a harsh tongue-lashing to many of the companies participating in Demo last Fall. His complaints ranged from mild annoyance to downright confusion and he ended up scolding individual companies by name. Kris Colvin highlighted a company called “Usable,” whose web site was anything but. Don’t let the same thing happen when visitors come calling on your web site.
Your initial site visitors may spend as little as five seconds on your homepage before deciding whether or not to move on. Make sure the headline, text and graphics (or video) quickly explains why your company is one to watch. The goal is for your web site to make a positive first impression prior to the event So that when they see your company’s name in the program guide they have a reason to attend your presentation Aside from your homepage; your company overview, management team and board bios are typically the next most visited pages on your site, which is consistently followed by your contact page. Visitors simply want to know where you’re located. Similar to your company profile, you want to make sure that your web site content builds a compelling case for why your company is qualified and capable of capturing a growing market. Technology companies have a tendency to focus on the many features found in their products and solutions instead of explaining how this benefits their customers. By taking time to review this content up front and making any necessary changes you’ll increase the chances that a visitor finds what they’re looking for when evaluating your web site
For those visitors that do spend time on your site, give them a reason to come back for more. Make it easy for them to subscribe to your e-mail newsletter, product announcements or blog updates. You can even encourage them to follow your updates on Twitter, become a connection on LinkedIn or become a fan on Facebook so your company’s status is always well known. Think for a moment how powerful it is to be able to reach out to your stakeholders on a consistent, informal basis without filling up their inbox. Micro-blogging and status updates are a terrific way to promote blog articles, whitepapers and other company announcements to your network while increasing the size of your distribution list at the same time Many sites, however, have no way of capturing contact information And once a visitor leaves your site you have no way of reaching them again. If your company hasn’t yet committed to a content development strategy You’ll at least want to provide a basic contact form so they can send you a message with any questions they might have.
If you’re not doing so already, you’ll want to add Google Analytics to your web site in order to monitor how many new visitors your site is receiving because of your involvement in Capital Connection. It also identifies the most popular pages and keywords, as well as which sites are sending you the most traffic. This will help you gauge how successful your media relations efforts have been as well as the overall impact that Capital Connection is having on your company’s visibility. Another valuable tool called LeadLander allows you to know which companies are spending time on your web site. Imagine being able to know if more than one venture capital firm or private equity fund is researching your company That might make term sheet negotiations go a little differently. You’ll also know when customers, prospects and competitors are visiting your site, along with which pages they spent the most time on. It’s also helpful for the inside sales team to see if any of their outreach has resulted in any customer or prospect interest. This level of detail was very valuable when our clients were trying to get acquired because they could see which firms were the most serious and which firms generated little activity in comparison.
Your company profile is referenced by investors and attendees throughout the conference to determine whether they are interested in watching your presentation. A well written overview and executive summary helps put the odds in your favor.
A positioning statement is not a tagline. It is the process of creating an image or identity in the market for your product, brand or organization. It is a focused, concise description of your customers, their problem and the solution your product offers them. The strategic purpose of positioning is to increase your relevance to a market segment by choosing where you can win.
Your company’s recent successes are only part of the equation. Investors want to know the expected size of your market and why your company is strongly positioned to take advantage of that growth. This can be challenging if you are competing in a relatively new or rapidly changing market, but this uncertainty might be why such a large opportunity exists in the first place.
Don’t just list the competition, explain how your approach to the market is unique and different. Too many technology companies sound exactly the same instead of articulating what makes them better. Whether it is your intellectual property, experienced management team or tight market focus, your goal is to highlight your competitive advantage and industry expertise.
Your fundraising pitch is your biggest opportunity for exposure and may well be the highlight of the event but don’t let too much text, too little focus and lack of preparation come between you and your potential investors. Make sure your presentation is polished and professional And that it doesn’t suffer from the many reasons that P
“ Restraint in preparation. Simplicity in design. Naturalness in delivery.” Your presentation is like a movie trailer. Its purpose is to get the audience excited to see the movie (your demo), but leave them wanting more. Don’t try to say too much.
The problem with PowerPoint: Too much text Too many bullets Too little connection
No matter your political view on climate change, Al Gore’s Academy Award-winning PowerPoint presentation about climate change also emphasized the importance of visual communication.
Investors are not your customers. They don’t want to know every detail about your technology. They do want to know which market opportunity your management team is chasing and why an investment in your company could deliver a reasonable return. Remind yourself of this while customizing each slide and resist the temptation to re-use your latest sales presentation. Text Photos Graphics Data Background At the risk of making all of the copyright lawyers in the room nervous, I always find it helpful to show examples of common slide mistakes and what you can do to fix them. Don’t worry, the majority of the companies I’ve chosen to reference have already been acquired and the information they contain is publicly available.
This is not the way to deliver a state of the industry slide.
Choosing one point per slide and using a picture to emphasize the main point is much more effective.
Presenters tend to fill every slide with information too “important” to exclude, often overwhelming their audience in the process. Your slides should reinforce your words, not repeat them. Try using a photo, graphic or chart in place of text where possible. And when you must use bullets, keep them to five or less, no longer than one line and no smaller than 24 pt. font size.
Financial data is commonly cluttered and includes additional information.
Simplify the presentation of financial information, remove the x- and y-axis lines and make the main point of the chart or graph the headline
The purpose of your presentation is to set yourself apart from the competition. Therefore your slide background should reflect your brand, not a default PowerPoint template. Avoid clip art and cheesy stock photos that weaken your positioning. Purchase professional images from iStockPhoto or Getty Images hire a designer to create custom icons and illustrations. Also avoid animations and wipe transitions. Signal vs. Noise Ratio Picture Superiority Effect Whitespace
When using graphics to convey what it is your technology does, try and simplify how it is presented.
By using clear illustrations, processes and concepts, it is easier to highlight the benefits of your technology.
Don’t try and convey too much information on one slide. Instead of showing every solution area and its underlying offerings on one slide ...
Consider only showing the main solution areas at once ...
And then highlight each area one at a time. The audience will have an easier time following you and will be less overwhelmed with detail.
In summary, a little less … this (Bill Gates)
And a little more … this (Steve Jobs)
Once you finish your presentation, interested investors will eventually make their way to your booth to see a product demonstration, ask in-depth questions and learn more about your company.
YOUR MARKETING MATERIALS SHOULD REFLECT YOUR COMPANY’S GROWTH POTENTIAL. CREATE A PROFESSIONAL DEMO THAT CONVINCES INVESTORS THAT YOUR PRODUCT IS WORTH BACKING.
Next to your presentation, an impressive product demo is a critical step in moving an investor closer to scheduling a follow-up meeting. Make sure your demo is designed professionally and that you highlight key features effectively, whether you build a canned demo in Flash or are prepared to do a live software demo back at the booth.
Anticipate the questions investors might ask and prepare answers in advance. Since this is not a traditional tradeshow, these questions may be less technical and more strategic in nature. Use this opportunity to reinforce key messages about your business model, market strategy and competitive advantage and continue building your case for investment.
This is not the time or place to experience equipment failure. Prepare a backup demo in case your software, video player or Internet connection doesn’t work properly. Bring extras of all equipment – laptops, power cords, USB drives, phones, whatever your demo requires. If all goes well, you won’t have to use it, but if it does not, at least you’ll be prepared. The old axiom that whatever can go wrong, will. So that way you’re prepared because you have a backup strategy. Investors will be impressed People spill coffee, airlines lose things, executives wear their USB drives around their neck until they get to the presentation
We’ve taken the time to prepare a marketing playbook for you to help your company get the most out of its capital connection experience.
Congratulations and good luck!
Venture Capital and Investor Conference Marketing Playbook
Company Profile Web site Media Presentation Demo
Spread the word through social and traditional media 0.1 Media
“ Editors and journalists agree that e-mail pitches should be more relevant to their beat/area of interest.” “ How the Press Uses and Values PR”