I know, it’s hard to prioritize marketing when you are trying to get your early-stage company going. Marketing is an investment which takes time to pay off. It doesn’t necessarily get your product to market any faster, and unless your product or service is a marketing one, it’s also probably not the core competency of your team.
That being said, if you need to raise money, then marketing to investors, not just selling, is critical. You don't have to get fancy, but you want to influence and persuade potential investors, not just share facts and detail. Marketing is about clarifying and managing the messages to be as persuasive and relevant as possible to your audience.
So, here's a list of the 5 most important tools to market your early-stage company to an investor audience.
1) An Elevator Pitch
- A clearly articulated and succinct essence explaining your product, the market, the target consumer, and your competitive point of difference is required for helping investors understand why they should continue to talk with you. Without a polished elevator pitch, investors won't hear your idea and its merits - they'll be overwhelmed by details. This blog post by Geoffrey James
does a nice job of comparing two pitches - one which is very factual, one which is a marketing pitch.
2) A Well-Crafted Executive Summary
- This almost always starts as a business document. To use this as a marketing document also, think about not only what you are saying, but how you say it. Formatting and layout, legibility, choice of fonts, and overall clarity of presentation really matter even in a business document such as this. You want to make this appealing to read and persuasive. This blog
points out other marketing considerations for your improved executive summary.
3) A PowerPoint Presentation
- The same principles I pointed out for your executive summary also apply to your PowerPoint presentation. In particular, don't put too much information on your slides. Nobody wants to listen to someone read slides, so present some of the information you previously might have included on the slide. Consider practicing your presentation out loud, thinking about what information you'd want to highlight on the page, and what information you'd rather say yourself. Check out guru Guy Kawasaki's blog
4) Communications With Your Internal and External Audiences
- This is about the combination of good writing and a disciplined process. The good writing tells your messages and news in a compelling and attention-grabbing way. The disciplined process is about communicating regularly with your target market. I'd suggest using communications you manage (such as an email newsletter) as well as those you don't (using press releases to publicize milestones, for example). I'm doing these rich topics a real disservice here, so for more thinking on this, the internet is chock-full; some of the best include Send2Press
for press releases and Web Marketing TODAY
for email newsletters.
5) A Basic Website
- It's the first place people go to find out about your company. Developing it now not only demonstrates that you can do some basic marketing, but will provide you a foundation upon which you can expand your messaging. SCORE Chicago
offers an easy-to-use portal to help you with all your startup questions.
The thinking you will do in the process of putting these marketing elements together will leave you in an excellent place to continue to build out additional marketing executions, as your capacity increases.
Cathy Belk is the Chief Marketing Officer of JumpStart. She specializes in branding, marketing communications, and business management. She brings 16+ years of experience in a variety of marketing and business roles, but gets her energy from working daily with entrepreneurs and their growing companies.