How to know if your problem doesn't resonate, and how to fix it

February 27, 2024

Our CEO, Jonathan, recently attended an event where he watched nearly 100 startup pitches.

He shared his reaction (worth a watch), but a key takeaway was this: 

No matter how great your solution, if your listener hasn't bought into the problem, they're likely to tune out. 

But this doesn't just apply to pitches; it's relevant to any number of startup scenarios. 

Recognise when your audience doesn’t relate to the problem

If a potential client brushes you off, how you frame the problem lacks persuasiveness.

If a new contact struggles to remember what you do, how you articulate the problem lacks memorability.

If you’re not gaining traction in the market, how you present the problem lacks effectiveness.

And in the startup world, falling short on any of these fronts means missed opportunities, lost potential clients, and ultimately slowing your startup's growth.

So, how do you course-correct?

It's not just about stating facts; it's about tailoring a narrative to your audience's needs and interests and incorporating elements of storytelling to evoke emotion so they’ll care.

Whenever we work with clients on how to talk about the problem, whether for pitches, marketing materials, or sales presentations, we start by focusing on the following:

1. Who are you speaking to?

Forget the old-school demographics. Dig deep into who they are as an individual. What is their role in the organisation and what responsibilities do they hold? What are their primary objectives? How do they perceive success?

2. What do they actually care about?

Our golden rule is that all decisions are emotional decisions. Look beyond the surface-level problems and tap into the deeper needs and the tensions they face both inside and outside of the workplace. What are the underlying emotions driving their decision-making? What are their aspirations and fears? What goals are they striving to achieve and what’s standing in their way?

3. What is their world like?

Get to know the environment they operate in. Consider their industry, market changes, and other external factors shaping their decisions. How is the industry evolving and what are the latest trends shaping it? What regulatory changes or market dynamics impact their business decisions? What competitors are they up against and how are they staying ahead (or not)?

When you have a solid grasp on the answers to these questions, you'll better understand the problem through your audience's eyes, setting the stage for tailoring a message that is more persuasive, memorable, and effective.

If you want to see candid reactions to how startups present problems in pitches, check out our Startup Pitch Reaction video series.


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