You’ve heard it a million times: to win grants, venture capital, pitch competitions, or even first customers, you have to tell your story.
Of course, it’s much easier said than done. While there’s no “one size fits all” solution, there is a formula for sharing your story in a way that wins over others. Here are four practical tips for telling your story in a way that sells.
Pair Numbers with Narratives
If someone offered you a million dollars to tell them the first three statistics you read this week, could you?
What if someone asked you to tell the story of Little Red Riding Hood? Or Goldilocks? Even if you didn’t remember it verbatim, you could probably remember the order of events, all the characters involved, and the feeling you were left with. You’d go home a millionaire.
Make Statistics Human
People remember stories, not numbers. That’s why storytelling is so effective. It can be tempting to list off 50 statistics that illustrate why your business is poised for success, but your audience will forget them just as quickly as you forgot all the statistics you saw this week.
Pair numbers with narratives. Tell the story of a customer whose life was changed by your business, or a theoretical customer who faces the problem you intend to solve. Then use that to lead into statistics demonstrating how widespread the problem is and how your business provides a solution.
Demonstrate confidence in your word choice. People are much more hesitant to fund– or even patronize– organizations that sound unsure of themselves. If you don’t believe in your venture, why will anyone else?
Instead of saying “We think we can” (or similar language), always say “We will.”
Timid: “With the infusion of capital from this grant, we believe we will be able to capture 10% of the market.”
Confident: “With the infusion of capital from this grant, we will capture 10% of the market.”
Emphasize Timing to Trigger FOMO
When appealing to funders like venture capitalists or pitch competition judges, it’s important to address timing. Funders may feel that you’re a good match for their criteria but think the need for funding isn’t urgent. If they can say, “We could award them next year,” they may grant funding to someone else instead.
Always address why right now is the moment to fund you. Is there a market trend you can ride better than the competition, like rising demand for wine delivery or school supplies? Is there an untapped niche market where you can establish yourself as a leader before other ventures move into the space?
In short, give funders FOMO– fear of missing out.
Tell What Makes You Different
Imagine that ten other businesses in your industry or vertical are vying for the same opportunity. What makes you different from them?
Are you better at customer service? Do you serve a market that competitors have left untouched? Are you faster? Higher-quality? Do you have a unique background or personal experience?
If you answer this question clearly, you’ll stand out in the mind of funders and customers alike and increase your chances of getting the “yes” you need.
The Bottom Line
In the words of the great poet and activist Maya Angelou, “People don’t remember what you said or what you did. They remember how you made them feel.” As a business owner, you’re selling more than just a product or service; you’re selling the story behind it too.
Understanding how to tell your story effectively can open the door to countless opportunities. By using these tips, you’ll have a much easier time winning over customers, partners, potential funders, and other key advocates who can help you achieve success.
Want Help Crafting Your Story for Grants and Pitches?
EnrichHER’s Business Financing Accelerator can help you craft the perfect pitch to sell your story, win over judges, and inspire venture capitalists to action so you can increase your chances of capturing more capital. You’ll have access to weekly office hours with experts who will give you personal coaching on how to put your best foot forward, how to design your slides most effectively, and take other steps to create “pitch perfect” presentations. Click here to learn more and enroll.
EnrichHER is a financial technology platform that matches revenue-generating companies led by women and founders of color to individual and institutional sources of funding. Since 2017, EnrichHER has deployed upwards of $4 million through its platform and matched business-owners to $13 million in working capital through its Accelerator. By providing capital, coaching, and connections, we are fueling the fastest-growing demographic of business owners. Our network has engaged with over 23,000 advocates through its digital community and in-person activations.