Karen Young | CEO The Young Group
I was on the phone with a passionate entrepreneur this morning and it took him 22 minutes to explain his concept to me. Not only did he lose my attention, but I was convinced he hadn’t thought through the product story. In an era when everyone has ADD, multi tasks, doesn’t listen and refuses to read, this is not a good start. Executive summaries have replaced concept decks. Acronyms have replaced conversations. Text messages are practically considered full blown dialogues. That USP (acronym for Unique Selling Proposition) had better be strong, concise, clear, compelling and immediately understood.
By now, everyone has heard the adage that you have 4 seconds to connect with
the consumer. She is being bombarded with upwards of 5k messages of some
Take the time to really think through all aspects of your idea/concept. Have you
done your homework? Do you know what’s on the market? Do you understand
your competition and why they are successful or not? Are you up to date on
consumer trends? What’s driving them? What problems are consumers trying to
solve? Does your idea solve any of them?
All this sounds so basic, but with 80% of new products failing within 2 years of
launch, obviously, these questions aren’t being answered.
Strip the concept down to its simplest, most basic structure and build on it
carefully, step by step. Is there a need? Is there a consumer base that will really
want this product? What consumer trends are feeding into this concept? Will it
have life in 2 years? In 5 years? How many channels of distribution are realistic
The list of questions is endless. The important thing is to be able to convincingly
explain your concept in 25 words or less. That’s right: 25 words or less. This
is your elevator speech. This is your private equity opening comments. This
is your telephone introduction to the retailer with whom you’re hoping to land a
Now, rehearse it endlessly. Stand in front of the mirror and repeat this USP (with
a smile on your face), until it’s second nature. Make friends and family listen,
question and challenge.
Getting to market today is not for the faint of heart. It requires passion, stamina,
perseverance, not to mention time, money and expertise. Getting this piece right
is an important beginning.