I recently read “The Art of the Start”, a fascinating book by Guy Kawasaki. Guy has had an amazing career ranking from Chief Evangelist at Apple and is the co-founder of Alltop.com, an “online magazine rack” of popular topics on the web, and a founding partner at Garage Technology Ventures.
Originally, I read “The Art of the Start” to help me with planning for a start-up company I’m working with, and the lessons I’ve learned can be used in so many ways I thought I’d share them. This process can be used to define marketing activity, sales pitches, investor pitches or for gaining partners. I’ve taken inspiration from Guy’s book but have adapted in certain places. If you can get this process in to a 10 slide presentation, then great!
It follows a very clear process based on the following 10 steps:
1: The introduction
Detail the name of your organisation, who you are and introduce what you’re going to be talking about. Tell people what you’re about to tell them.
2: What’s the problem?
This is absolutely critical to any kind of planning you’re trying to do. If you don’t know what the pain is that people are feeling, or the difficulties they may be having, how can you appeal to them? This step sets the scene for the rest of the presentation.
3: What’s your solution to the problem?
Explain what it is you have or can do to address and solve the issues identified in step 2. Do you have an amazing product, piece of content, strategy, person or something else that can overcome the problem? This isn’t the time for in-depth technical explanations, moreover a summary of what you can do to help.
4: Who needs your solution? Who’s your target audience?
This could be your business model or a marketing plan of what you can do to turn the solution in to the problem into meaningful results for your clients and your own organisation. Who are you going to sell this to? Who do you want to communicate with? What will mean your solution is working?
5: What’s the magic behind your solution?
This is where you can go in to more depth. If possible, a video or diagram that demonstrates the process, product or campaign will work well here. Back this up with further written information or links to more content. Think “why would people be interested in this?” and “why would people want our solution over a competitors?”.
6: What can you do to back this up?
If you can give a demo of your product or an example of a previous campaign, or another client that has had the problem you’re addressing, and can demonstrate how you’ve solved it, put this in now. If you can’t back up why your product or plan will work, then perhaps you need to think a little more deeply about the problem and your proposed solution?
7: Who’s the competition and what are they doing?
Think about your competitors and what they might be doing to solve the same problem. What will it mean if they solve it before you do? If you’re selling your solution to a client that is using a competitor then discuss this. However, be careful not to disparage your competitors. People don’t want to hear why others are bad; they want to hear why you’re good.
8: Who are the Team?
This is your opportunity to let your audience know who will be working with and for them. Introduce the people that created the solution and why they’re the right people of the job. This doesn’t need to be full CV’s, just some top-line achievements and, even better, a couple of reference comments from satisfied customers they’ve worked with before.
9: What have you achieved so far?
Use this section to explain your key achievements in developing the solution to date. Give examples and milestones. Tie this in to how it all has contributed to getting to where you are today.
10: Recap and next steps…
This final part is to recap what you’ve been talking about (tell them what you’ve told them) to engender further action and commitment from your audience. It should include clear, easy to understand tasks that need to be undertaken to realise the goals and is a great opportunity to answer any questions that have arisen and to take feedback from the floor. This can all then be fed in to the rest of plan!
This reminds me of some advice I once received about the art of presenting in a very simple way:
- Tell people what you’re going to tell them
- Then tell them
- Then tell them what you’ve just told them
I know it sounds a bit silly but reinforcing this simple thing goes a long way to ensure there’s no confusion in what you’re saying.
And that’s it. This approach has helped me no end over the last few weeks and is something I wished I’d learned years ago! I hope it helps you.
Guy’s book is a great read for anything trying to start something and I urge you to read it. You can buy it from Amazon: Guy Kawasaki – “The Art of the Start”