Daily Archives: November 26, 2010

You want to communicate “enough” – not “everything”

In my previous post, I talked about how some bad presentations try to define “marketing strategy” and put up “mission statement”

In the bad presentation, it tries to define marketing strategy as something that involves the activities of selecting and describing one or more target markets and developing and maintaining a marketing mix that will produce mutually satisfying exchanges with target markets. So here are some questions about the definition. What exactly are those activities? What other targeted markets? How do you define a marketing mix? Specifically what is meant by mutually satisfying exchanges? The list of questions can go on and on with each definition requiring more definitions. If you try to talk to somebody using language like that all you will get in response is a blank stare or ridicule. Normal people do not talk that way.

As for the mission statement – this is usually one of the first things that an entrepreneur does. And the result is a painful and costly exercise that ends in “exceptional mediocrity” as Guy Kawasaki put it in his famous book the Art of the Start. Every mission statement says the same thing.

Let’s look at a major soda company’s mission statement. It states that it “wants to be the world’s premier consumer products company focused on convenient foods and beverages. We seek to produce healthy financial rewards to investors as we provide opportunities for growth and enrichment to our employees, our business partners and the communities in which we operate. And in every thing we do, we strive for honesty and fairness and integrity.”

So who would not want to say all these nice things? My God – we have premier, healthy financial rewards, enrichment, honesty, fairness and integrity! The only things this company has left out in the mission statement are motherhood and apple pie. So it wants to be the best in the world and the one to make lots and lots of money and be nice to everybody. What else is new? Do we need to see and hear that in a PowerPoint presentation?

Another idiotic thing we often see in presentation is business plan. Every new business startup spends tons of money hiring consultants to draw up business plans. And every business plan pretty much says the same thing: we see this fantastic market in the world and we hope to make a gazillion dollars in five years’ time. What else is new? In order to attract investors, most of these business plans will of course assume an exponential growth. If you don’t believe me, just go and read some of the business plans of real estate developers written three years ago. Or the business plans of all those hi-tech start-ups written a year before the burst of the Dot Com bubble.

Business plans are nothing more than fantasies – pure and simple. It is like saying that you have this great product that you plan to sell to every single man, woman and child in China and India and by gosh if you can just make a profit of one dollar each, your annual profit  would be $2 billion. But please tell us what you plan to do to actually get every man woman and child to buy your product. And how much would that cost you? The success of any company is in the execution of the business on a day-to-day basis, not how fanciful a five-year fairy tale looks like.

99.9% of business plans read like science fiction after one year in operation –  assuming the startup has not gone out of business by that time.

So skip the business plan in your presentation already. Just talk about how you plan to run your business realistically. Forget about all the business buzzwords. Just tell us your story. Describe your dream in terms that normal people can relate to. Not a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing.

That is the essence of a good presentation.