Posts filed under ‘maple ridge’

Clarifying your value proposition… and your elevator pitch

Forty-seven minutes. That is how long it took me to drive home from Downtown Vancouver to back here in Maple Ridge. Through the fog every mile of the journey… that is until I got to my front door.

You see, I live out here on the edge of a Mountain, slightly elevated above a very scenic commuter community. For those who are not local and would not know, there is a low pressure inversion blanketing the Lower Mainland. Our home is above it. When people ask me why I live out here, I often have standard answers: more affordable housing, a small-town feel, wider parking spaces [which is great for small children]. However, I now have another answer to give.

“Living in the suburb provides you with more opportunity to clarify your value proposition, practice your elevator pitch, and come out of the fog.”

You see… I had one of those days of meetings and networking. I met a former colleague for lunch to catch up and talk about the latest business projects, what’s new, what’s different and how we are going to change the world. A quick hop into Starbucks [London Fog Latte… it seemed appropriate] to work on a business plan that I was preparing for the late afternoon’s First Round Capital’s Office Hours. Then a meeting with a business partner to discuss development plans on one of my ventures (TeeTimes.net). Followed by the aforementioned Office Hours [I pitched an angle of Texts.com, not the business plan I was preparing earlier]. Followed by a quick dinner (responding to a day’s worth of emails while eating). Followed by networking at the Vancouver Entrepreneur’s Meetup. Followed by a late night coffee with a few other entrepreneurs and genuinely nice people that I met tonight (here, here, and here). And then the drive home.

All day long, I practiced my elevator pitch (or on a day like today I should say, “pitches”). And all day long I listened to others explain their business models and communicate their value propositions. Some were well done, and others like the presenter from the Investor’s Group who must have misread the 30 second pitch guidelines as 3 minutes… not so much.

But the drive home provided me with 47 minutes to rehearse my pitch and think about what resonated with my day’s companions, and what left people in a fog. Well actually it was only 45 minutes. The first 2 minutes were spent listening to the radio to hear that the Canucks blew another game.

So here is what I learned from tonight:

  1. Texts.com –  One of the things that I like about good quality generic domain names, especially when it is your company’s name, is that it leads your audience into your pitch before you open your mouth. At the Entrepreneur’s Meetup on my name tag, I scribbled “John” and beneath it I wrote “Texts.com“.  From here, depending on the audience, I could adjust my pitch to one of the following:
  • Texts.com provides international text messaging and SMS Marketing services. With our international text messaging service, we save money for those who wish to send an SMS message internationally. Rather than paying your standard carrier a message rate that reaches as high as  $0.50 per message, we can deliver a text message to your overseas friend or family for as low as $0.10 per message. In other words, we simplify international text messaging.” … or…
  • Texts.com provides international text messaging and SMS Marketing services. Our SMS marketing services focus on the smaller local merchant. A typical short code that is required for mobile marketing campaigns costs anywhere from $15k to $30k per year and takes 12 weeks to set up. This is not practical for a small business. Likewise, a merchant could lease a shared short code, and while this is more affordable, if a person unsubscribes from a campaign that happened to be on the same network, you lose that customer. Instead, we are implementing technology to let a person “Call-to-Subscribe” to a mobile marketing campaign at rates that are much more affordable than the cheapest shared short codes. Small businesses now have an affordable option to participate in mobile marketing.”

So in hindsight (and one 45 minute drive later), how did I do? I think it would have been better to simply lead with a single message around local SMS Marketing. Next time I would start off with the key value proposition of our SMS marketing and how we differ from existing systems. Full stop.

  1. TeeTimes.net – A few times tonight I had the opportunity to talk about another one of my ventures, TeeTimes.net. Once again, the domain name says a lot about the business. A person who has any sort of understanding about golf, would know that this business has to do something about TeeTimes and they would probably even conclude that it is a place for online golf reservations. So how did I do?
  • “We operate a web-based golf reservations business that allows golfers to book their tee times online for more than 1,000 golf courses across North America.”

People got this. They understood what we did. It was simple. In some instances, I delved deeper into the business model and our execution strategy that made us unique, but for the most part, I stopped it after the first sentence. In other words, to paraphrase Jerry Maguire, “You had me at Hello”.

What other messages did I hear tonight that I liked?

  • Elizabeth Southall of PowerhouseCopy (a direct response copywriter) — “I specialize in direct response copywriting for the web that helps you convert more of your visitors into paying customers.” Cool. Sounds good. I could use that.
  • Tom Gibson of OutsideIncredible (a product marketing consultant) — “I’m a product value specialist. I help companies make their products and services resonate instantly with buyers.” He even had that exact pitch written on his business card. Nice touch.
  • Derek Bell of Tynt“We enable people to Graffitti  up the web, sharing their thoughts via the social web”… At least I think that was it. In any case, I got it right away… but perhaps this is just because I have always been a fan of the website PostIt note model since I came across Third Voice many, many years ago.

For everyone else that I met tonight… I look forward to seeing you again real soon.

John

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January 16, 2009 at 2:35 am 1 comment

Paid Search Advertising Course in Maple Ridge?

I am considering conducting some sort of paid search advertising clinic for small businesses here in Maple Ridge. My motivation for this is two fold:

First, I bought a few good domain names the other day that are highly relevant in MarketingClinics.com, AdvertisingClinics.com and BrandingClinics.com. And while I am focusing the Marketing Clinics website on a new venture focused on paid search marketing for chiropractors and dentists, it would be a shame to just sit on the AdvertisingClinics.com domain.

Secondly, I truly enjoy sharing knowledge about search marketing, paid search advertising, and some of the techniques that I am using. Am I a teacher? Well, I haven’t taught anything ‘officially’ since about 1995 when I was teaching some adult literacy courses. But I do sit and coach/mentor people one-on-one about these opportunities on a weekly basis.

What I am pondering aloud (and in the oh-so public forum that is this medium), is if there any interest in a hands-on course geared towards the small businesses owner/manager that would run for about 4 evenings over the course of a 4-week period? Is there a market for this? I figure that the course would entail some hands on campaign development so at the end of the session, you would have your advertising campaigns built out for your business? I would think I should be able to talk Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft out of some vouchers to sweeten the pot. Hmmm….

Let me know your thoughts and if there is any interest.

J.

November 12, 2008 at 2:21 am Leave a comment


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