In the first two parts of this series, we introduced the Winning the Moment concept in both philosophy and practice. With this third entry we’ll bring the idea to life, sharing examples of winning moments from the perspective of two different audiences: potential investors and the media. While these are distinct audiences, they are both vital to young companies looking to get a foothold in the market.
The fact that investors and the media are so different underlines the importance of the winning the moment concept. A focus on strategy and understanding the needs of your audience - whomever they may be - is critical to your communications efforts.
Winning the VC Moment
At times, over the past 15 years, it can seem like VCs are more like ATMs, doling out sums of money to anybody with an idea and a website. But for every great new business that gets funded, dozens, if not hundreds, fail to secure funding. Many of those fail because the idea is bad, or they haven’t found a product-market fit, but many good ideas disappear because company founders simply haven’t crafted their messages in ways that are most likely to resonate with potential investors.
Brad Feld is managing director at Foundry Group in Boulder, Colorado. He invests in software and Internet companies and works with startup CEOs to help them with their pitches. He’s seen firsthand how challenging it can be to have a pitch that resonates with people like him:
Recently I was on the receiving end of a description from an entrepreneur, who has a great idea that I love, that had the emotional impact of a TSA inspection at the airport. He was going through the motions with almost zero emotional content. At the end of it, I said one sentence – “Don’t get sick of telling your story.”
That idea of telling your story, and telling it with real emotion, is echoed by others in the VC community. Carmine Gallo, author of The Storyeller’s Secret, relayed the following anecdote recently in an article in Entrepreneur:
“Storytelling is the most underrated skill,” says Ben Horowitz, general partner with venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. “The company story is the company strategy. If you don't have a clearly articulated story, you don't have a clear and well thought-out strategy. The story must explain at a fundamental level why you exist.”
In the same article, Barbara Corcoran, one of the featured stars on the show Shark Tank, says, “Show me an MBA and your sales numbers, that’s fine. But tell me a great story about how you got started and your vision, and we’ll talk.”
Winning the Media Moment
The story you tell to the media may not seem as pressure packed as an investor pitch, but it’s a critical touchpoint for connecting with potential customers. The media landscape has changed considerably during the Internet and social media eras, and as a result, reporters think differently about what stories they are going to write.
“Will this story get views/clicks/shares?” is a question every journalist must consider when making choices on what they are, or are not, going to cover.
Veteran journalist Michael Humphrey writes for a variety of outlets, including Forbes, The New Yorker and Salon. His focus, online video, was foreign to him before he had interaction with a PR professional who understood how to win the moment. Michael commented:
“I was kind of poking around for six months in the digital video space when a P.R. person pitched an idea that changed my career. She saw a piece I had written and she was representing Google at the time. She could tell that I was interested in digital video as a disruptive technology and how that gave viewers a new kind of agency. That led her to pitch me a series about emerging YouTube stars, which was still pretty undercovered in early 2011. That series dominates my most-read list and led me into the field I cover now.”
“I tell this story because she understood that I needed content and access to good stories. She read my work and figured out how to shape her clients’ needs to my beat. Then she approached me with a newsworthy idea. We tweaked it some, but really we both were amazed at how successful that relationship became.”
We hope we’ve made clear what meaningful engagement can look like with well thought out, planned and rehearsed preparation. Focusing your strategy and efforts on successfully delivering your message, ahead of everything else you do, can make all the difference. If you’ve been inspired by this series, have questions or would like to explore the idea of winning the moment for your brand, get in touch with us to set up a meeting.