Pitches, Plans, Etc.: Tell Your Story, Please 7

I’ve been listening to a series of investment pitches lately, most as parts of local contest events related to angel investment. As a reaction to several of these, I have a plea: Please, start by telling me a story.


Start with the story of a person who has a problem, and how your company solves it. Even if you’re selling to businesses and not consumers, even then you can tell a story.

“This farmer has to fertilize her crops every two months, and when she does . . . ”

“Mabel has to package snacks for her kids for after school . . . ”

“This big company spends tens of millions every year on compiling data about . . . ”

Then, after personalizing, so that I know what you’re selling, to whom, and how it solves their problem (or, in cases of non-necessity luxury items, why they want it), then you can tell me about your secret sauce, special offering, technology innovation and knowledge of the field.

I heard 10-minute pitches where even halfway through, fully five minutes after the start, I still didn’t know what the company was selling.

Everybody likes stories. Personalize. Start with a story. If you have only 60 seconds, then cut it down to 10 or 15 of them. Make the problem and solution come alive.

About the Author Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Bplans.com. Follow him on Twitter @Timberry. Follow Tim on Google+ Read more »

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  • http://www.kenpirok.com Ken Pirok

    In other words, sell the BENEFITS of your product or service, not necessarily its features. (This goes for both your pitches to potential financing sources and to potential clients.)

  • http://www.stepintothespotlightblog.com Tsufit

    Right on!
    All business is show business.
    Author, Step Into The Spotlight! : A Guide to Getting Noticed

  • http://www.radclarity.com Max Goldberg

    The human brain is hardwired to understand stories. Stories have been the way people communicated for thousands of years. Why should this be any different for businesspeople?

    As Tim points out, if you place your product/service in a story, the listener immediately has a context for all that follows.

    My firm helps companies create a strong core story. We never cease to be amazed how many companies neglect this basic building block.

    Max Goldberg
    Founding Partner
    The Radical Clarity Group

  • Anthony Hamberg

    Using a story isn’t about spin or selling, if done properly it conveys to the audience who your market is, your company’s role in it and the value you contribute. Stories in business are tools to demonstrate an applied example of your product or service.
    If you can’t do this then it’s also likely that you don’t fully understand one or more of those aspects of your business. Also if the story sounds contrived or illogical it’s likely the business plan is flawed as well.

  • http://PaprockiLtd.com Sherry Paprocki

    Telling a good, personal story is the way to bond with anyone’s emotions. A good writer will find the story and tell it for you and your company. But it takes skilled writers to do that, not necessarily ad writers who claim to be storytellers. A bland story that you’ve seen a hundred times before won’t do in today’s economic climate.

    S. Paprocki
    Paprocki Ltd.

  • Kelly

    The Mobile peer awards last week in Barcelona were another good example of this. Babajob told a fantastic story and stole the show (and the awards).

  • http://moneymgmt.blogspot.com Ninad Gujar

    Absolutely. One should also read the ‘Story’ chapter to get a better insight into why it works from the book ‘A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future (Paperback)’