TURNING PITCH DECKS INTO PROFIT
Look closely into the eyes of new entrepreneurs and you’ll see the spark, the gleam in their eye, the potential they see in bringing their idea to life, their mission to the market. They live and breathe the idea and work tirelessly on their dream toward the goal of transforming it into a reality.
Of course, it’s not so easy to do.
Enter, the pitch deck—the critical ingredient that helps present the vision and plan in the entrepreneur’s eye—and brain—into a cohesive story that can be received and evaluated by potential investors. Good pitch decks contain a mixture of optimism and realism to share both vision and a well-grounded plan with tangible steps and a realistic approach to engaging the market that ultimately translates to revenue and profit.
When developing the plan to take a new investment and apply it to revenue generating activities to engage and grow a list of new customers, there are a couple of key questions to answer.
What is the size of the market you will target with this investment?
A quick Google search reveals numerous articles and blog posts on strategies to develop and get a clear understanding of your target market size. Top-down and bottom-up strategies take the forefront, with the common conclusion that top-down offers quick and satisfying big numbers at the expense of accuracy, while bottom-up offers a more thorough process that ultimately leads to higher accuracy.
The two key numbers in a top-down analysis are total market size multiplied by the estimated percentage market share you hope to acquire. This results in your potential market.
Bottom-up numbers include a realistic estimation of the number of potential customers in a market area multiplied by the price point. This is then compared against other factors like competition, and publicly-available market statistics to drive toward a realistic calculation of forecasted revenue in a given location.
Other factors, when market sizing, include trending or evolving markets (up or down), parallel markets to be taken in succession, new market development vs. stealing customers from competitors, etc. With a bottom-up approach, which is my suggestion, you’ll have the better foundation on which to build your go-to-market strategy.
How will you generate interest from potential customers?
Generating interest in a new market is a complex challenge with numerous variable and initiatives to address. The following list of best-practices reflect lessons learned and optimal strategies to make the most of precious resources early in the game:
- Create a calendar
- Even a simple monthly calendar will deliver benefits here. Place months at the top and channels down the left, then fill the intersecting cells with initiatives, to-dos, proposed dollar spending amounts, leads expected and lead generated. Keep it up to date and refer to it routinely during internal strategy meetings.
- Take an iterative approach
- A cycle consisting of small, frequent repetitions works best to make efficient use of money and time. Find and correct problems, improve messaging and strengthen what’s working with a simple plan > test > evaluate > revise > repeat cycle for taking your marketing messages to prospects.
- Test with early adopters, but plan for the early majority
- The traditional customer adoption bell curve begins on the left-edge with innovators and early adopters—the prospects who need much less convincing, like state-of-the-art, new, leading edge solutions. They help prove your concept and are a great source of market intel. But when planning your go-to-market strategy, look past this group to where the bell curve begins to rise sharply—to the early majority. This is where you’ll start acquiring harder-to-reach customers, that need more convincing and possibly consensus-building to buy your offering. Develop your strategy for this part of the market and you will establish the core of your lead generation strategy.
- Understand buying catalysts
- Focus your pitch deck on the catalysts behind the buying drive. By this, I mean the top-of-mind event or situation that will cause the prospect to firmly connect with your marketing message and take steps to “open their wallet” and pay for your solution. What is the point where it’s suddenly painful enough—or attractive enough—for the prospect to commit to a purchase? Make sure your marketing messages go the extra mile to connect the dots at this level—and you’ll reach prospects on a personal level where day-to-day is impacting them, and your solution offers a potential improvement or opportunity.
How will you convert interested prospect to new customers?
One main point to remember once you have an interested prospect, is that you’re selling to people. Don’t forget that. People come in many different shapes and sizes. They also have widely varying ways of dealing with decision-making and change. Your business development strategy should be well aware of this and address it head on.
Your strategy should include a way to recognize that certain prospects are taking a circuitous path through your sales pipeline and will need multiple touch points of engagement. Plan to drip a series of messages that speak to different points of push-back—price, competition, implementation, disruption, change, training, risk of failure, etc. Depending on your market of course, this multi-touch phase can “unblock” a pipeline of early prospects who show interest then go radio silent, never engaging you after a first call, and not responding to emails.
How will you extend your customer lifetime value?
Most every type of solution offers at least some level of post-sale customer lifetime value. Taking care of your customers has several benefits and an important step not to be overlooked.
Keeping customers happy is paramount. Establish a routine of staying in touch with your customers to assess their satisfaction with your product or service. Once through the early, honeymoon phase and the use of your product or service settles into daily life and routine, the need for customer satisfaction remains high. Here, you can evaluate the long-term benefits of your solution—how it changed their daily life, how it improved, streamlined, enhanced their day-to-day tasks, workload, planning, etc.
Happy customers can deliver benefits for months or years after the original date of sale. From ongoing payments in the form of subscriptions, add-on purchases or upsell opportunities, to endorsements, case studies, referrals and reference calls (used sparingly of course), legacy customers can be an important ongoing contributor to business growth that can help drive toward your revenue growth targets.
In closing: stay focused on your market
The transition from pitch deck to profitable business contains a host of decisions and planning activities, internal collaboration, communication, strategizing, market engagement, feedback analysis—and a considerable amount of time, energy and money. Throughout the process, the company leadership will help guide toward the long term goals while battling day-to-day issues, incorporating support network suggestions, responding to market changes, and capitalizing on unexpected opportunities.
With a continued focus on understanding your target market prospects, what makes them tick, how, when and why they make decisions—you’ll be much more prepared to translate your vision into reality and transform your pitch deck into a growing revenue stream that delivers ROI, improves your market share, and supports your strategy for continued long term growth.