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🚀 3-2-1 Traction — a pitch too clever by half
The best thing to improve your pitch; creating compelling value props; making bad decisions; the danger of delegating early sales; comic relief from Coca-Cola; and crowdsourcing your insights.
Hey friend 👋
It’s another Monday, and I’m exceedingly well and exceptionally tired. I just facilitated an amazing 3-day startup competition, on the back of a talk and an investor panel at an out-of-town conference. And I have a 4-month-old denying me sleep.
If I make little sense, that’s probably why.
Anyway, here are 3 ideas from me, 2 ideas from others, and 1 question to help you focus in your journey to find traction.
3 ideas from me
Your pitch needs a headline.
I’ve given this feedback more than 1k times, so I’m just gonna write it down: your first words should be what the heck your business is. Not a long explanation — that comes later. Just 5 seconds.
A lot of founders want to do a big reveal. Start with mystery, intrigue, big problem… and introducing our amazing idea! 🤯
The problem is that it doesn’t work. We hear a lot of pitches, and we know why you’re talking to us. The entire time you’re being coy, we’re trying to figure out why you’re talking about what you’re talking about. And, when you finally reveal your solution, we have to go back and re-process everything you told us with that new context.
Don’t make us work that hard. Just tell us who you are.
Bonus tip: it’s not a tagline. Those only work after people know your product.
Clear beats clever every damn time.
The best way to design compelling value props? Experience mapping.
It’s a diagram that shows what your customer’s life looks like without you. It captures how they’re solving (or living with) the problem right now, before they’ve ever heard of you or your product. This exercise is a fantastic way to identify the pain points and opportunities that become central to your value proposition.
It’s 4 steps:
1/ Identify the need:
What’s the customer’s triggering event?
When, how, and why do they go from having a problem to taking action?
2/ Map out the process:
What are the specific the customer takes to try to meet that need?
Who is involved?
When does each happen?
Where does each occur?
3/ What are the pain points?
For each step in the process, what works and what doesn’t?
What are the opportunities to create value and delight?
4/ Craft a killer value prop:
What do you keep?
What do you improve?
What do you add?
It works so well because it looks at the value your product can provide to a customer from the same lens they will be use to evaluate it: their experience without you. You can’t create compelling value props in a vacuum.
By the way, if you can’t identify massive, severe, and urgent pains in the process… you’re chasing the wrong thing.
The most common cause of startup failure is making bad decisions — and, too often, those decisions look like they were only option.
Entrepreneurs who consistently see better results — who seem to just be more “lucky” — are those who organise their effort in a way that produces better options (rather than outcomes), and ensures they are never forced by circumstance into making bad decisions.
Make proportional bets, gather data, and iterate rapidly. Don’t let the market force your hand.
2 ideas from others
Founders make the mistake of delegating early sales to a VP of Sales, hoping they’d figure out how to acquire customers. You hire a salesperson when you’ve figured out your go-to-market motion.
When’s that? It’s when your sales calls and demos are boring and repetitive. You need to do 100-200 customer calls and conversions to know if your product is good enough. By the end of it, your answers to the converting prospects’ questions start sounding the same.
Stay founder-only until you can predict the flow of conversation — and the outcome.
“Coca-Cola is a $244 billion company, and it can keep launching limited-edition flavors that people don't like for as long as it wants. And if you agree with the notion that all publicity is good publicity, then perhaps this new soda that A.I. helped create is a success, as it certainly has generated some headlines. And given Coke's huge market, there are probably enough curious customers to buy out small batches of limited-edition sodas. But if you're an entrepreneur or small-business owner, something like this could be a fatal mistake.”
1 question for you
What is one important lesson about entrepreneurship that isn't taught in school, but that you want to teach your kids? Leave a comment and let me know.
That’s it for me. Have a fantastic rest of your week!
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