Don't Pitch Your Product Without Understanding the Worldview of Your Audience
A product has at least 4 different worldviews.
👋 Hi there - I’m Ash, and welcome to a 🔒 subscriber-only edition 🔒 of my weekly newsletter. Every Saturday, I share battle-tested recipes, strategies, and how-tos for systematically building repeatable and scalable business models.
How do you tell when an entrepreneur is pitching? Their lips are moving.
The problem is that most entrepreneurs spend a disproportionate amount of time discussing the uniqueness of their product features or its underlying technology breakthroughs. This is the story they tell themselves:
But Investors and customers don't care about your product (yet).
The more significant and immediate challenge is that others don’t see what you see. You have to frame your story differently to get them on your side.
In his groundbreaking book All Marketers Tell Stories, author Seth Godin defines a “worldview” as the rules, values, beliefs, and biases people bring to a situation. Good marketing is NOT about changing a person’s worldview, but instead framing your story in terms of their pre-existing worldview.
The same is true in entrepreneurship: All entrepreneurs tell business model stories. Good pitching is NOT about brute-forcing your solution on others but instead framing your business model/product story in terms of your audience’s pre-existing worldview.
In today’s issue, I will cover four different worldviews (investors, customers, advisors/co-founders, and competitors) and outline steps for creating a compelling pitch for each.
The 4 Worldviews of a Product
1. The Investor Worldview
Investors don’t care about your solution but a business model story that promises them a return on investment within a set time frame.
The business model is the product they are buying.
When investors want to invest their bags of money, they typically have many existing alternatives, e.g., other startups, the stock market, cryptocurrencies, etc. Why should they pick your business model?
This is what they want to know:
How big is the market opportunity? They don’t care who your customers are, but how many — your market size.
How will you make money? They want to understand the intersection of your cost structure and revenue streams — your profitability or growth potential.
And finally, they want to know how you will defend against copycats and competition who will inevitably enter the market if you are successful — your unfair advantage.
But what gets an investor’s attention, above everything else, is traction.
Investors care about traction above everything else.
If you walk into an investor’s office with the beginnings of a hockey-stick curve, you’ll trigger a Pavlovian response — they’ll sit you down and try to understand the rest of your business model story.
So, how do you get some of this traction?
Traction is nothing more than a measure of your product’s engagement with customers. And any traction is better than no traction. So rather than first chasing down investors, it would be more effective to chase down a few good customers.
2. Customer Worldview
Customers don’t care about your solution but the problems (or obstacles) that keep them from achieving a desired outcome or getting a job done. Customers typically have many existing alternatives when they want to get a specific job done. Why should they pick your product?
Getting a customer’s attention is the first battle.
That’s the job of your unique value proposition (UVP). If the promise of your UVP connects with a customer, you have permission to tell that customer more about your solution — typically through a demo.
A demo is a carefully scripted narrative that helps the customer visualize how they go from point A (riddled with problems) to point B (problems removed by your solution). If you deliver a compelling demo, the only thing left to address is what you want in return — the currency exchange captured under revenue streams.
In a direct business model, this may be a direct money exchange. But in multi-sided models, this may instead be a derivative currency (like attention) that is then converted to money through a secondary transaction (with advertisers).
The next conversation is a bit different.
3. Advisor/Co-founder Worldview
We all need people other than ourselves to guide us, call our B.S., and hold us externally accountable — aka advisors and co-founders.
These people bring a unique worldview to the conversation, but unlike the others, their worldviews are driven by their past experiences and interests. That is why it is essential to surround yourself with complementary advisors and co-founders and be as open and honest with them as possible.
Practicing “success theater” with them (where you only share good news) may result in a pat on the back, but it misses out on a tremendous learning opportunity. Communicating effectively with this group requires using a learning frame versus a pitching frame.
There is one more worldview…
4. The Competitor Worldview
We also have conversations with competitors. These are not your lovely “sit downs over coffee” types of conversations. Instead, these conversations test your marketing, pricing, and positioning stories in your business model — your unfair advantage.
I put this one at the end because I find that too many entrepreneurs prematurely pay attention to “competitors” too early. This is predicated on the fact that your supposed competition has a clue. What if they are as clueless as you are?
Simply positioning against your competition guarantees a different approach, not the right approach.
Your true competition is NOT determined by who you think they are but by who your customers think they are. You uncover this from your customers, not through some SWOT analysis but through customer/problem discovery.
Crafting Pitches For These Worldviews
So, where do you start?
The investor pitch and customer pitch are the two big stories to tackle first. You always want to lead with your strongest foot forward. With investors, this is with a strong traction lead. With customers, this is with a strong promise lead.
But like any good story, you first need a good setup. Let’s dive in.
1. Crafting an Investor Story Pitch
The job of the Investor Story Pitch is to communicate your business model story clearly and concisely to an investor/stakeholder/accelerator in about 5 minutes.