This is article #8 of “180 Days to Startup” series documenting my entrepreneur journey. In case you want to start from the beginning, please click HERE to the first article. You can also check out what Nodis.io is looking to accomplish HERE.
I remember spending hours creating a clear marketing pitch for our website on how our platform works and why it is valuable. I confidently sent out the message in the form of a survey to research on what people think about it. To my surprise, 95% of the surveyee either required further explanation or didn’t understand anything. In fact, I asked my wife, who knew about the idea from day 1, to read it and she gave me the TL;DR face. I knew that this wasn’t going to work, especially if most of the people in the world will only understand Nodis.io from content of our website
Explaining an idea and getting people to see the same vision is hard. Explaining an idea with blockchain and cryptocurrency is even harder. The reality is that when we try to put decentralization into a solution, it often comes as “weird” or “needing more explanation”. Explaining how our decentralized voting mechanism is going to work is challenging.
Below are the 3 top lessons I learned through that survey and other researches:
Avoid Techy, Trendy, or Buzzword Jargon at all Cost
Yes, that includes words like “blockchain” and “cryptocurrency”. Our target market are small businesses owners/managers that are often lagging behind the technological trends. Using jargon will alienate our target market and derail the focus from the core idea.
While there is a hype in cryptocurrency (in good ways and bad ways), but anytime the word comes up, it takes center stage and everyone forgets everything else. It often comes down to questions like: “what can cryptocurrency do?” or “how much will it be worth?”. It almost feels like the product idea is to support the growth of cryptocurrency, rather than the other way around.
Buzz words cannot be the center of our pitch. As Peter Thiel said in his book “Zero to One”…
“Customers won’t care about any particular technology unless it solves a particular problem in a superior way. And if you can’t monopolize a unique solution for a small market, you’ll be stuck with vicious competition.”
The human mind works in a funny way: we naturally try to grasp everything we hear. Anytime a technical jargon comes up, it can potentially cause the audience to blank out for a short period of time or even become disengaged completely. I had to modify my message so I can avoid all tech-ish words possible. I needed to build my message by layers so by the time I have to say “cryptocurrency”, they will already have a good grasp of our goal and how it’ll benefit them. Instead of saying cryptocurrency, I decided to use the simple words like “rewards point” that general public can relate to.
Help Them to Visualize the Message
Most people grasp ideas better in visual contents. After the first survey, I immediately recruited a designer to help me design a diagram showing how the Nodis.io Challenge mechanism works and how it can benefit businesses in marketing.
I sent this image out to the surveyees that had questions and the response rate was much more positive. They were finally able to go from “trying-to-understand” phase to “tell-me-more” phase.
Show Them the Value
Audiences need to clearly understand the problem and what we are looking to achieve BEFORE anything else:
We are on a mission to help local small businesses to get noticed online, increase traffic in store, and differentiate from the competition.
As I said in my previous article, I personally took a vacation week from my 9–5 job and visited 150+ small businesses with our prototype. I modified the message to center around the above statement. It’s a simple line that all small businesses can relate to.
As a result, only a handful of decision makers had trouble understanding our pitch. In fact, the response was overwhelmingly positive with 60% decision makers signing up to be Founding Partners. This was a MAJOR improvement from the original message that I sent out for the survey.
With the above 3 major changes in the way we deliver our pitch, I have been much more successful in explaining the solution both directly in person and indirectly through the web.
Internal communication is just as important. There is no point in having a world-class pitch but no product to offer. Motivation of the team is extremely critical in the process of development and execution. There are so many books and philosophy out there on how to do that but every team is different. My next article will be on what we did to keep everyone motivated and also the lessons learned.
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