Ask the Customer to Describe the Value

Last week I was talking to an entrepreneur and I had a hard time understanding the pitch. After a few rounds back and forth, I worked to simplify and repeat the pitch back to him. It was OK but not great. Then, I realized the problem: he was stating the idea based on what he thought I wanted to hear. AI this, cloud that, etc. I wanted to hear the problem being solved, the value derived by the customer, and the prospects for becoming a large business.

My advice to the entrepreneur: go talk to 10 customers. Ask how they describe the solution. Ask what value they receive from the product. Do this in a way that doesn’t lead the witness. Be patient and quiet as they think through their answers. The point of the exercise isn’t to change the vision or mission of the company. Rather, the point is to refine the messaging and pitch to more accurately reflect the market. The market always decides no matter how hard you want it to be a certain way. 

Ultimately, the clearer the message, the better people will understand it and the faster they’ll be able to know if they need it. Messaging and positioning are harder than they appear. Entrepreneurs would do well to lean on customers and better understand the value from their perspective. 

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