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Pitch Deck Positioning


We are the Uber of...

Positioning your pitch deck is a lot like art.

Some people can paint and draw masterpieces, while others can just about draw a stick man.

When it comes to positioning, you either have an innate ability, or you don’t. I’ve seen some of the best entrepreneurs in the world fall flat on their faces when it comes to getting their positioning right.

If you’re struggling with this part of your pitch deck creation, this article contains some helpful hints and tips that will help.

Just think of me as your positioning fairy godfather. Watch my tiara.


What is positioning?

Positioning is telling the story of your business or brand as concisely as possible. Your soundbite, your mission, your elevator pitch… even the anecdotes you share with investors.

Think of your favourite film. Could you explain the plot to someone who hadn’t seen it in a single sentence?

It’s a lot harder than you might think…


Think of when you go to the supermarket, and the store gives out free crisps or ice cream samples. They want to give you a little taste, so you’re tempted to buy the whole product.

That’s precisely what positioning is all about. Small and mighty pieces of text that will get your investor’s attention and encourage them to want more.


How to nail your soundbite

Your soundbite is a short sentence or phrase that tells your audience what you do best.


I’ve spent weeks, possibly months, of my life trying to write strategic soundbites over the decades, and I’ll be honest with you, I don’t like all the ones above. It’s incredible to think that a handful of words can take so long to put together.

The main thing is that your soundbite is memorable, original and customer orientated. Not a lot to ask for, I know.


Use your vision for inspiration

If you have a vision in place, it makes it a lot easier to work on your soundbite. What’s your ambition, and how will your soundbite reflect this.


Keep it short and simple

How long should a soundbite be? As short as possible. Anything more than 12 words, and you’re stepping out of soundbite territory.

Every single word needs to count in your soundbite. Do you need that ‘very’ or ‘really’? Take it out.

Similarly, your soundbite isn’t the place for complicated words or jargon. Would a 10-year-old understand it? If the answer is no, it needs to go.


Make it catchy

It’s essential to ensure your soundbite is catchy. The rule of three works well here. It gives your soundbite rhythm, structure and makes it easy to remember.

Is it a coincidence I gave you three reasons there? You be the judge.


Access alliteration

Inspire your investors and attract your audience to your sensational soundbite with the added allure of alliteration.

Was that overkill? Probably. But you get the idea. Alliteration strengthens any soundbites you use, making them easier to remember.

Rhyming words provide a similar effect but don’t go nuts. You’re an entrepreneur, not Dr Seuss.


Make your soundbite distinct

Your soundbite needs to be uniquely you. Don’t bring other businesses into the equation, like saying you’re Amazon for used socks or Airbnb for chickens.

Seriously. Someone did pitch me Airbnb for chickens once. It sounded delicious.

It’s okay to say things like this in your voice over, but don’t commit to it in your presentation – it doesn’t go down well.


Don’t be a martyr

Unless you’re a charity, don’t lead with a soundbite that tells your audience you want to save the world. VCs are all about the bottom line, and this type of approach won’t wash with them.

Want to pitch something that matters, like helping the environment or reducing inequality? Go for it. But don’t say doing good is your sole purpose.


Align your team (but don’t ask them to get involved)

Everyone at your scaleup must understand and appreciate your soundbite as it will shape so much of your marketing moving forward.

However, don’t ask for feedback. Many excellent soundbites become mediocre when the whole team wants to have their say.


Don’t write a mission statement; write a mantra

I will leave you in the safe and dependable hands of entrepreneur extraordinaire Guy Kawasaki.

Mission statements are typically derided as being too long, too dry, too corporate. Instead, you should have a mantra – something short and memorable.


How to uplift your elevator pitch

Aah, the elevator pitch. Try and convince me to invest in your business in three minutes or less. No slides, no imagery. Just words.

Every entrepreneur should have a solid elevator pitch on standby. Even if we don’t talk to each other in the lift anymore.

There’s a lot to cover in your elevator pitch. You need to

  • Introduce yourself

  • Introduce your product or service

  • Outline your customer pain points

  • Sell your solution and USP

  • Talk about how your business is doing and what you’ve achieved

  • Provide a call to action

Sounds familiar? The structure is a lot like a classic pitch deck, so the good news is if you’ve perfected your narrative, you’ve got a head start.

The tips I mentioned above work for your elevator pitch. It’s all about keeping it simple, brief, and engaging. Here are some extra things to bear in mind:


Use your soundbite to support your elevator pitch

You can use your soundbites to support your pitch and make it more memorable. The same applies in reverse too. If you already have a solid elevator pitch, you can use it to fine-tune your soundbites.

Multifunctional marketing tools for the win!


Practice makes perfect

Practice your elevator pitch as often as you can. Time how long it takes, see what parts people respond best to, and tweak it over time.

Your elevator pitch should be so well-rehearsed, it sounds like casual conversation.


It’s okay to get inspiration from other pitches

If you’re still stuck, it’s okay to take elements from elevator pitches you’ve heard before. Just make sure the final result is uniquely yours.

Looking to see some great elevator pitches in action? There are some noteworthy ones here.


How to fine-tune your anecdotes

Facts are great on pitch decks. They add credibility, and most investors love that.

However, anecdotes and personal stories give your pitch emotion and make your slides memorable. Your audience may forget you made $5.6 million in profit this year, but they’ll remember the person who loves your product so much; that they got a tattoo of it.

(Want to hear a stunning example of an anecdote? This is one that people remember years after hearing it.)

Here’s how to add sizzle to your stories with a well-crafted anecdote.


Tell your anecdotes at the start

In my experience, it’s easier to have your anecdotes at the start of your pitch. That way, you can use your story as a springboard for the rest of your presentation.

See what works best for you – it’s important to keep the flow going.


Consider the different anecdotes you can use


Typically, entrepreneurs use the same five anecdotes in their pitches. These are:

  • The founder’s journey. How you came up with the idea for your product or service

  • The user’s tale. The story of one of your users and how your product or service has helped them

  • The industry opportunity. How your industry has evolved and how your business slots right in

  • The tech deep-dive. The story of a clever innovation your product or service has been inspired by

  • The product demonstration. A demo of your product that brings it to life in a way you can’t explain. Just make sure any demo is well-rehearsed and has a contingency plan in place

You don’t need to use all five types of anecdote in your presentation – stick to the ones that add the most value.

If your dialogue doesn’t advance the story, you don’t need it.


Show, don’t tell

As with all the best books, you need to describe the story through details and actions – not exposition. Consider the following two sentences:

‘The man angrily sat on the couch holding his guitar’

‘He sat there shaking, his eyes full of venomous tears, cradling the guitar in his trembling arms like a long-lost lover.’

The second sentence is more emotive, dynamic, passionate. I’m welling up just reading it.


Rely on the universal anecdote structure

Your anecdote is essentially a short story. If you know you want to include that all-important killer anecdote but aren’t sure where to start, this structure will help.


Get your sentences down on paper, then edit and embellish them until you’ve got yourself a story.


Be honest

You may be tempted to make things up when it comes to anecdotes, but this is best avoided.

Firstly, if your audience disputes your story and you can’t back it up, you’re screwed. Secondly, if you get your wires crossed and tell the story wrong… well, you’re screwed again.

Unless you’re confident in your ability to tell tall tales, stick to the truth.


If in doubt… leave it out

A crap anecdote that is too contrived, too dull, or too salesy can tank your pitch deck, and we don’t want that.

When you have your anecdote, run it past someone (ideally not in your business) and see what they think.

If they respond by banging their head on the table or throwing things at you, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.


In summary:  Keep it short, keep it sweet

Positioning is one of the most elite forms of storytelling you can use when pitching for an investment. When you get it right, you increase trust by creating a bond with your audience as well as making it more likely that they’ll remember your pitch.

Is it hard to nail? Yes. But when done right, it can transform a good pitch presentation into an incredible one.


What's next?  How to deliver the perfect pitch

In my next PlayBook, we move on to the final piece of the pitch deck puzzle – delivery. Now you’ve created your pitch deck, how will you sell it to an investor? All will be revealed next.

Hacks on how to perfect your start-up pitch positioning and craft powerful strategic soundbites. From Jonathan Bullock, ex Google Chief of staff & SoftBank COO

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