Many inventors and entrepreneurs are so excited about their concept that they neglect to learn, or practice proper business etiquette when soliciting marketing or investment assistance. This can ruin their opportunity, or at the least set prospects back sharply. The following are some simple rules to follow when making initial contact or presentation of your exciting new product or marketing concept.
Never Utilize Mindless Platitudes
My Company has been developing consumer products and marketing consulting for almost four decades. There is no bigger turn-off than to just meet a potential new client and hear something like: “I am going to put the Mattel Toy Company out of business with this new plush toy (or board game, or articulated doll, etc.)”.
Another golden oldie cold shower is, “This is a multi-billion dollar opportunity”.
We see this tried every day and it is a disqualifier.
Be realistic, humble and factual about the opportunity you present. Professional marketers and venture capitalists will appreciate and are more likely to reward the sober tone.
Always Tell the Truth, Never Embellish
The marketplace of ideas and new product ideas is huge, uber-competitive and non-forgiving. If you stretch the truth, embellish facts, or omit important facts that will affect your proposition two things will surely occur, they always do: You will be discovered. You will be dismissed.
Be absolutely clear and truthful about everything you represent as factual. I cannot tell you how many times we have met entrepreneurs with great product ideas and we dismiss them out of hand because of obvious methane in their story. It is far better to detail a competitive disadvantage your product might possess and offer a solution to overcoming the handicap than to gloss over and try to mitigate the flaw.
You Get One Chance to Make a Great First Impression!
I interview entrepreneurs for a living. I have certain screening questions that I use to separate the wheat from the chafe. Every venture capital firm, investment banker, consumer product marketing professional and licensing agent I know utilizes the same verbal qualifiers, or disqualifiers depending on how they are answered. The goal of your first contact is to get a face to face meeting with decision makers.
Do not try to close a deal on the first call. Do not hard or over-sell. Never attempt any type of sale or screening technique on an e-mail if you wish to be considered serious. Present yourself as a professional person who has a project that is well-vetted, serious, offers unique product features and benefits that will benefit consumers and retailers and that you would be appreciative of a meeting that should be of interest to all parties.
Do Not Detail Your Perceived Value of Your Project
Why? Because you do not have a clue what the REAL value of your project is. I have never read a non-professionally written business plan that offered an inkling of an iota of the true value, if any, ensconced in the project. You may have a wonderful idea. But without Execution, Cost of Goods balance, a customized Marketing Strategy that employ’s unique Branding concepts and Consumer Product Features and Benefits that can easily be conveyed to consumers in a cluttered marketplace even the best product will not succeed.
Have a Great Elevator Speech
You will need to be able to excite decision makers in a brief few minutes of time. An initial call is always cold. This is the time to plant seeds of interest, not reap a harvest from a virgin field. The same principles that apply to the Executive Summary section of your Business Plan should apply to the Elevator Speech. Respect the time of the decision maker. Interest him (or her) with product features and benefits, a very brief summary of your due diligence and be prepared to answer questions, hopefully, if you have excited a level of interest from you target these will come. Remember, your goal should be to meet.
After an introduction and a short, tight Elevator Speech, you will be asked questions if there is any level of interest from your target. Assuming you have done your homework and pass the screening exam you will have the opportunity to ask questions of your target. Do not get too detailed and specific. Save that for the time when negotiations commence, and that is still a long way off.
These are only a few of the most egregious flaws and shortcomings we see every day as our Marketing Consulting firm reviews projects. We get very interested in unique products. We only get truly excited when the entrepreneur is as good, or better, than the product they present.
by: Geoff Ficke