No, this isn’t going to be a how-to about kissing. The K.I.S.S. Principle has been around for decades, but I am amazed at how few entrepreneurs apply it to their business. In case you don’t know what K.I.S.S. is, the acronym translates to: Keep It Simple, Stupid. Or, for those of you who want to be nice, Keep It Short and Simple.
Though this concept can be applied to almost any situation, for entrepreneurs it is especially important to be focused and not add complexity when it’s not necessary. Through my experience leading IdeaCrossing, I’m regularly amazed at how many entrepreneurs don’t apply this principle to something as basic as how they describe their startup in their elevator pitch.
Often descriptions are filled with industry-specific acronyms, technical terms, and things anyone else would need a Ph.D. to understand. These entrepreneurs get so passionate about their idea and showcasing what they know that they aren’t thinking of their audience. Truth be told, their idea could be the greatest thing since sliced bread, but if investors don’t “get it” they are going to pass and look for the next opportunity. So how can entrepreneurs simplify?
Start by writing out your current Elevator Pitch.
How long is it (words and seconds to say aloud)? If it is more than 60 seconds and about 250 words it is too long. Where can you cut it back? Is there technical terminology in it? Take it out.
Sanity-check your content.
Are you answering the fundamental questions? Answer them and then cut back your answer by half. Questions to answer as you construct your elevator pitch:
- What is your product or service? Whether you craft it like a subject line of an email or the headline of an article, it needs to get across the overall message in a quick sentence.
- What problem does your business/product solve? What are the benefits? If there is no problem solved, you won’t be able to show there’s a demand for it.
- Who is your target market? Be focused. Even if the entire population could benefit, start with the easiest/smartest sell and establish a customer base. Then expand from there.
- How does it compare to the competition? Be up front about your competitors, the market share possibilities, and how what you offer is different/better.
- Share early success. Revenue? Important customers? Tell us.
- Leadership. If the leadership team is remarkable make sure it’s known.
Take the mom test.
This one is easy to do and can be very enlightening. If it is not your mom, that’s ok. Maybe it’s your neighbor or friend. First, ask them what you do. You might be amazed at the answer and learn about some common misconceptions people have about your company. Then, tell them what you do – use the elevator pitch you’ve been honing. Last, ask them again what it is that you do. Can they reiterate it back to you? If not, it needs more work.
As your startup business evolves, so should your elevator pitch. Plan to revisit it again and again. And keep it simple please.