Master the Art of Writing An Investor Pitch Book
April 23, 2023
How to Write a Pitch Book for Investors – and pitch deck mistakes to avoid
When you want new investment, you need to create a great investor pitch book. That’s because the best investor pitch deck will make it easier to impress investors and to get the results you want.
Investors tell us they want clear, simple pitch decks, but many are the exact opposite. Too long and too complicated. This is equally true for private companies, private equity funds and public companies.
It’s not easy to write a killer pitch deck.
– Every business is different.
– Every investor is different.
– Every pitch book is different.
Despite this, people repeatedly make the same mistakes when writing pitch decks. This expert guide, drawn from our 15+ years’ experience of creating great investor pitch documents, will help you impress.
So that you can write a great pitch books, we have here…
How to write an investor pitch deck: Eight rules
1. How to write a pitch deck for investors: Start with the big picture
To build on the Eurythmics song: Behind every great pitch is a great message. Make sure you have one big clear message underpinning your pitch. And one clear message for each slide. Writing these is the hardest part of putting an investment pitch together, but it is also where the most valuable work is done.
When you have clear messages throughout your pitch, clear messages underpinning your pitch and clear messages in all your headlines, it’s much easier for your investor to understand your pitch. When we work with clients in writing investor pitch books, this is the toughest part of the process, but also where we add greatest value.
A strong start to your pitch deck engages the investor and sets expectations. It immediately demonstrates that you can communicate key facts concisely and get to the heart of the matter quickly, all of which shows respect for the investor’s time and attention. How strong is your cover page and your page 2? Do you know how the best firms structure the start of their pitches?
2. How to write an investor pitch book: Decide how you will use it
Are you creating:
- A handout to be read after a meeting?
- Something to be projected on a screen?
- Or a pitch document that you go through page by page?
These three uses require three different documents. So, design your pitch document for the use intended. One size does not fit all. This is possibly the biggest mistake made in pitches. We see it again and again, especially when we coach investor pitches or business pitches. Remember: a pitch deck to be read at a desk vs a pitch deck to be presented should be as different as a book and a movie.
3. How to write a pitch deck for investors: Tell your story in your headings
Think like a journalist. Make your headlines count. Your pitch deck headlines need to grab attention and inform. Weak pitch deck headlines like ‘Strategy” or “Our Team” are not good enough. Your slide headings need to be interesting and push your story forward. The headline writer at a newspaper is one of the best-paid jobs in journalism. Great pitch headlines make it easier for others to understand your pitch and will make it easier to tell your story.
Work with someone who can write great headlines for you.
4. Have a strong narrative running through your Pitch Book
Do you share your journey with prospective investors, to show how your business or fund’s strategy has evolved over time? Perhaps you no longer invest in a certain sector, have chosen to focus on just a few core sectors or are expanding to additional sectors.
However your strategy has changed, crafting a simple yet strong narrative helps investors understand what you do, why it works and how you’re uniquely positioned today.
It can be hard when inside the firm to see your pitch book as others see it. That’s where we can help you.
“If a GP has been around for a while and has changed their strategy and/or organisation, then I don’t want them to skip over that bit. It’s really important for us to understand the starting point of the GP and how their strategy and organisation have evolved.”David Punda, Director of Private Equity Investments at Nippon Life Global Investors Americas
5. How to write a pitch deck for investors: Make it interesting
That may sound obvious. But, we usually find extensive padding in investor pitches. Take out everything non-essential and keep only what the investor needs to know. Say less, and say it better is a good rule of thumb. Move pages to the appendix if you are not sure.
For example, recently we re-wrote the introductory pitch deck for one of the top regional private equity funds. We turned a 32 page pitch into an 18 page pitch. And each page had about half the content of the original. As a result, they ended up with a tight, compelling pitch that was easy for investors to read.
6. How to create a great investor pitch deck: Make it easy
Imagine you are your audience sitting reading your document. You are short of time, under pressure and lazy. So, does your pitch document pass these tests:
- Is the pitch document easy to read?
- Does the important information leap out?
- Does it answer all the top questions that investor will have?
Keep working on your document until it is as easy to read as a newspaper. And make sure you don’t make any of these common pitch book mistakes.
How to make your pitch deck easy to read: Strong, active headlines, regular sub-headings and supportive, relevant imagery make your pitch book more appealing to read. If it’s easy on the eye, investors will give it more time and attention.
Just like a news story, it also needs to be succinct. It’s far too easy to pack in potentially useful information, whether or not it’s relevant for this stage in the process. Instead, identify the key messages you want to get across, and leave everything else out. Remember that an investor pitch book is a marketing document that shows what the opportunity is. It is NOT a comprehensive analysis.
7. Does your Pitch Book make it obvious why this investor should choose your team?
Your pitch book should make it clear why this investor should pick you out of the hundreds of opportunities they have. What unique trait does your team have that enables you to consistently deliver? And how does your strategy align with this investor’s mandate?
And what value can you deliver to your investors over and above a financial return? If you properly understand what you can give an investor that no other firm can give, then you can create a compelling pitch deck.
“Funds need to prove that among the managers and the players there is something that makes this team and this opportunity more attractive and transactable.”Paul Manias, Managing Director at OMERS Platform Investments
8. Make sure your Pitch Book has a clear and compelling Takeaway Message
Imagine that a colleague asks a prospective investor what your opportunity is about. The investor has just looked through your pitch book; what do you hope they will say? We call this your Takeaway Message. An effective Takeaway Message sums up your value proposition in a memorable and succinct way. This message should be repeated or restated several times in your pitch book and fundraising presentation, including at the very end.
These eight golden rules will help you create great pitch books.
And, if you want help with your pitch deck, we would be delighted to discuss what we can do. Call Louise Angus, our Client Services Director today on +44 20 7018 0922 or email her below.
Why do you need a better investor pitch deck?
A compelling investor pitch book is at the heart of successful fundraising. You use it to make it easy for the reader to understand you.
These days, a great pitch deck is not a “nice to have”, it’s a “must have”. A better pitch deck will help you raise money faster.
Working with our clients we have seen, again and again, the positive impact a great pitch deck makes. And this is equally true in private equity, hedge funds and in publicly-listed companies.
Just to be clear, we are not just talking about having a well-designed investor pitch deck (although that will help). A great investor pitch deck has the right content, organised in an investor-friendly way. It’s a pitch document that’s a pleasure to read and that addresses what an investor needs – and wants – to know. And it’s a pitch document that properly reflects the heart of your business.
It’s the difference between a piece of music by Mozart and by Stockhausen: they both contain the same notes, but one is a delight to listen to; the other is hard work.
What every investor looks for in a pitch deck
Ten reasons you need a better investor pitch deck
1. A better investor pitch deck makes it easier to get first meetings
Just last month I saw this tweet by VC Nic Brisbourne of Forward Partners. If you make it easy to understand your investment proposition, then the reader is more likely to meet you. What this means is that you need to clarify your investment case, and then tell your story clearly and simply.
2. Writing a better investor pitch deck helps you stand out from the competition
If an investor gets ten pitch decks in a pile, what makes yours stand out? How can you get yours to the top of that pile? The good news is that there are tried and tested techniques that you can use. For example, when we re-write pitch books for our clients, we make them shorter and easier to read. Look at this collection of great early-stage pitch books for inspiration.
3. Writing a better investor pitch deck explains what makes you special
Does your investor pitch book really explain what makes you different? Can you equip your investors with the tools they need to justify their decision to take investment in you to the next stage?
This means finding the elements of your investment proposition that are distinctive and that underpin your success. For example, it could be your track record, your team, your approach or your investment strategy. You need to be very clear on this. Having one strong, distinguishing, memorable feature is more powerful than having ten.
4. Developing a better investor pitch book helps the investor talk about you as you want to be talked about
Imagine what happens after an investor reads your documents. They might discuss you, write about you, and share information with their colleagues. Have you written your pitch document so that it’s easy for them to do all of these things? Can they spread the word in a memorable and engaging way? That’s the sign of a great pitch deck. It means writing it so your words can be easily repeated.
5. Writing a better investor pitch document answers an investor’s immediate questions
Every investor will have questions. The easier you make it for them to get the answers they need, the more likely they will consider you seriously. But it must not say too much – it can’t answer every question or it becomes unwieldy. For example, in a teaser document, think of your pitch book as a CV or resumé. It should share just enough information for people to want to meet you, and no more.
6. A better investor pitch deck helps investors ask you the right questions
When you meet investors, you want to have an intelligent conversation. Well, what about writing your pitch so that it guides the conversation as you want it and stimulates the right questions?
For example, if you are raising money for a better mousetrap, and the key piece of evidence for the success of your business are the sales on Amazon, you want to write your pitch to encourage the investor to ask questions about that.
7. A better investor pitch deck weeds out those investors who are not interested
A great way to save time is to identify those investors who are not really interested. A ‘NO’ is the second best answer you can get. It’s the ‘Maybe’ answers that are often least illuminating. So, be clear, be definite and show exactly who you are and who your investment is best suited for.
8. Your investor pitch document should make life easy for the investor
Your pitch book could be the start of a wonderful relationship. If you make life easy for the investor from the start, they are more likely to want to work with you. A great pitch book is a great way to begin that process.
9. A better investor pitch book will give you more successful investor meetings
I am sure we have all experienced a meeting where you turned up to an investor and it was clear they hadn’t read your pitch documents. That might have been a sign that your pitch book was less than ideal. Your pitch book should be as easy to read as a newspaper or magazine. If it is, the investor can flick through it quickly and understand your investment case. We like to apply our ‘Flick Test’ to all pitch books to make sure the core messages are easily accessible.
10. Writing a better investor pitch document saves you time
As well as all the benefits for the investor, a better pitch book also saves you time. You get to speak with the right investors and you spend less time answering obvious questions. A great pitch book should also accelerate the fundraising process. That means you can get back to managing your business – where you really add value.
What Mistakes To Avoid in your Investor Pitch Deck?
When you want new investment, you need a great investor pitch deck. You want to be certain you have eliminated mistakes in your pitch deck, so that you know your investors will be impressed from the start.
So that you can write a great pitch document, we have here…
Eight mistakes to avoid when writing pitch decks.
Investor Pitch Deck Mistake #1 | Not talking about your investor
A good pitch is not about you. Instead, it’s about the investor, their needs, and how you can help them. Anything else is just a brochure. So, go through your pitch and work out if your investor will feel as if they are the centre of your universe. If not, get someone to re-write it.
Pitch Document Mistake #2 | Failing to engage from the start
Psychologists have shown that our unconscious brain makes decisions faster than our conscious brain. That means you want to appeal to the unconscious brain from the start.
- How does the front page look?
- Does it grab attention?
- Is it clear what you are offering?
- What about page two?
If your reader is not sold on you by the time they read page 2, then your pitch deck needs more work.
Great Investor Pitch Deck Mistake #3 | Making bad assumptions
A good pitch helps an investor with their needs. If you understand their needs, you can write a well targeted document. A badly written pitch document makes assumptions about what the investor might want. So, stop assuming and make sure your pitch is written to reflect what you know your investor wants to hear.
Investor Pitch Mistake #4 | Talking about yourself too much
Your investor should be the star of your pitch, not you. An investor does not want to read about how great you are. They want to know what you can do for them. Check your pitch and see how many times the pitch says ‘we’ vs. ‘you’. How many ‘we’ or ‘I’ can be replaced with ‘you’s?
Pitch Deck Mistake #5 | Not having a clear investor story
Stories are a powerful way to communicate. They link facts together into a logical sequence and they have a natural rhythm that makes them a pleasure to read. Even the driest pitch document can be told as a story. Does your pitch contain enough stories?
Investor Pitch Mistake #6 | Confusing features with benefits
The second rule of sales (after ‘know your investor’) is stress the benefits. Where features are listed it shows either laziness or that you do not understand investor needs well enough. Make sure every feature about your offer is turned into a benefit.
Pitch Document Mistake #7 | Making it hard for your investor
- Is your pitch a pleasure to read?
- Is it summarised well?
- Does each part push the story forward?
If not, you have not made it easy for the investor. Find someone to re-write, re-structure and re-edit until your document is as easy to read as a newspaper.
Investor Pitch Mistake #8 | Using too many words
It is easy to say too much. It’s tougher to be succinct, engaging and compelling. People like reading short, pithy, powerful documents. So get someone to re-write it so it’s all very easy for your investor to read.
How to create a great pitch deck
Video – how to create a great pitch deck.
If you have an important investor pitch coming up and you want a powerful pitch document, call us today.
Speak to our Client Services Director, Louise Angus on +44 (0)20 7018 0922. She’ll be happy to explain how we can help you win more investor
What can you do today?
We help firms and fund managers improve their pitch books.
From small private companies to some of the biggest firms in Europe, we create value wherever we work. We work on short-sharp projects that add huge value.
It does not cost much, and will repay itself many times over. Find out more today.
To improve your pitch deck, speak to our Client Services Director Louise Angus today or call her on +44 20 7018 0922.
Tell her what you want and we will help you improve your story to investors.
About Benjamin Ball Associates
At Benjamin Ball Associates, we help our clients to communicate better. You get presentation coaching for executives.
Over 15+ years the award-winning BBA team has coached thousands of senior executives globally to present powerfully. You get access to a transformational toolbox of presentation skills & techniques to help you become a clear, confident communicator.
We’ll help you create a powerful first impression that hooks and engages your audience immediately, and we’ll transform you to deliver clearly, confidently and with impact.
Speak to Louise on +44 20 7018 0922 or email email@example.com to find out more and discuss transforming your speeches, pitches and presentations.
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