Pitching is a potentially challenging process and can be especially intimidating if you are a relative rookie. Of course, if you want to grab the attention of investors, it is also entirely necessary.
One of the best ways to improve your chances of securing funding is by setting out the culture of your organization as part of the pitch.
So what is company culture and what is the best way to express yourself clearly, concisely, and compellingly to investors, without making your intentions too transparent?
A quick introduction to corporate culture
The culture of your company is both an inward-facing aspect of the organization that covers the environment in which employees operate on a daily basis, as well as the outward-facing presentation of the business and brand as a whole.
The culture should encompass everything from the values which the business represents and the attitudes that it expresses through its work, to the targets it sets and the processes it puts in place with the aim of achieving them.
Because the culture of a startup may be fairly nebulous during the early stages of development, it is necessary to actively attempt to define it sooner rather than later. Only by having a formalized definition of these central tenets that best represent your business will you be in a position to share these with third parties, including investors.
Once you have prioritized and completed this, you will be ready for the next step; actually gearing up for pitching.
Laying the groundwork
First and foremost, it is important to appreciate the need to plan thoroughly before any pitch meeting. If you go in blind or are only partially prepared, this will be very apparent to experienced investors, and could seriously limit the likelihood of securing their involvement.
From the perspective of conveying corporate culture effectively in this context, it is vital to take a bespoke approach. This will involve scrutinizing the portfolio of any prospective investor, determining the kinds of businesses that they have shown an interest in previously, and leveraging this information to your advantage.
Indeed you can harness this research to pinpoint the investors who are most closely aligned with the values of your fledgling company, while also identifying those who might be less interested in the industry you occupy and the ethos you exude. If you want to save time, money, and hassle, narrowing down your list of investors to pitch to in this way is sensible.
It is also worth noting that with the right pitch speech, personalized according to the portfolio of the investor in question, you should still be able to sell your firm successfully. It is simply the case that this tailoring of your pitch should be your weapon of choice, in combination with the right strategies during the event itself.
Communication techniques to implement
As you might expect, it is not just what you write in your pitch speech, but how you communicate the words that count most. Furthermore, your corporate culture needs to be something you embody in your presentation style since this will allow you to implicitly expand upon and add to what you are saying, augmenting the meaning further through gestures, tone of voice, and body language.
For example, if your organization is intending to be vibrant, youthful, outgoing, and socially engaged with customers and clients alike, it is worth reflecting this in your pitching style. Likewise, if you are hoping to portray your company as focused, cutting edge, and committed to a particular core product or service, you should adjust your speech accordingly, while also taking into account what you have learned about the investor from your prior studies.
It is also worth saying that while being well prepared will be to your advantage, you also need to be flexible and adaptive, responding to the situation at hand, rather than sticking rigidly to your plan if it seems like the strategies you have put in place are not having the desired effect. There is only so much you can learn about an investor via research; once you get in the room with them, you may realize that an alternative tact is needed or minor adjustments should be made to convince them that your corporate culture is one worth engaging with.
Exploring the power of neuromarketing
Although a relatively new field, neuromarketing is quickly becoming an essential tool in a number of contexts. The right techniques can even help anyone who is preparing a pitch speech and hoping to blow investors away with the way they portray their corporate culture. This is because behaviors extrapolated from consumer studies are just as applicable to pitching since this is essentially a sales situation in which your brand personality is under intense scrutiny.
One example of neuromarketing’s relevance to pitching your corporate culture is the concept of anchoring. This hangs on making your company more attractive by presenting the most appealing information upfront, before making any comparisons with established companies with a similar ethos or even outright competitors. By anchoring your business to a positive idea, this link will be indelibly etched in the mind of the investor, thus giving it the edge in the subsequent comparisons you make as well as any follow-up questions they ask. If you handle it right, this strategy could even mean that the investor does not get as far as considering the alternatives in the first place, which would be a major win.
Another part of tailoring your pitch to demonstrate and exemplify the culture of your company is to consider the aesthetic impact of your pitch materials. If you are presenting through the use of slides, handing out documents for investor perusal, or issuing digital materials to support your proposition, these not only need to contain key data points expressed in a comprehensible way, but also in a layout and format that is connected to this culture.
What investors actually care about
In amongst all of this, it is a good idea to take stock and consider what actually makes a difference to investors in terms of corporate culture, and more specifically what hard evidence you can supply to back up any claims you make.
Employee retention rate is a great example of this; as much as you might say that your company is keen to invest in team members and guarantee job satisfaction unless you are willing to prove this on paper, investors might doubt your authenticity. Conversely, if you can show them an impressive retention rate and link this to the cultural environment you have stewarded, they will know you are serious.
Likewise, if you have examples of employee feedback processes and sessions that you run to make sure that there is an open dialogue with workers that shapes your corporate culture as well as being defined by it, investors will be impressed. At the end of the day they care less about the culture itself, and more about the results it delivers and the benefits it brings outside of all the pitch meeting hyperbole and marketing fluff.
Final thoughts on pitching corporate culture
Hopefully, you now have a few ideas about how to begin building your next pitch so that it clicks with investors rather than leaving them cold. The last thing to bear in mind is that you need to write a pitching speech that does not bludgeon investors over the head with the values of your business, but rather indicates subtly what these are and shows the investor that they are already aligned with them.
In short, it is not an act of convincing someone to come over to your way of thinking, but rather one which should suggest that they are already on the same wavelength, and so should be in the best position to get involved with your enterprise.