After 2 days at TC50 running through the DemoPit gauntlet, I was surprised by how many people have a hard time communicating their business idea. To make the most of a PR opportunity like TC50 your Sales team, community, and product all need to be in lock step with a great message.
Here are a few steps to help out:
1) Keep it short
The startup world is booming and with so many companies out there its really hard to get anyones attention. Investors, possible partners, and acquirers are looking at new ideas all day long, so they need to know what you do in 30 seconds or less.
Angelsoft has this nailed down with their "one line pitch". Lead with a very short, comprehensive explanation of what your company does and why its different.
2) Make it visible
Once you have this perfect one line pitch, put it out there so everyone can see it. On your website, make it stand out. Get marketing, sales, and product all using the same vocabulary, so you're customers see one consistent message.
At your booth in the DemoPit make it visible so someone can see what you do before coming in for a more detailed discussion. Investors and other interested parties don't want to waste their time or yours, so help them find you. This last part is KEY! A half dozen investors mentioned how difficult it was to approach companies without knowing what they did. Make it easy for them to find you, and you'll have a lot more highly relevant conversations.
3) Keep it simple
Use words that your customers, or your mom can understand. Here's a great example from Get Satisfaction, a community based customer support site, where they ask their customers how they would describe the service to their mom.
Leave out the buzz words and stick to common sense descriptions that a wide audience can understand
4) Know what your cutomers are hearing, not just what you're saying
This is the all so important feedback loop. Even once you get your message nailed down, you may not be spreading the right message. Theres a big difference between what you think you're saying, and what the customers are hearing.
The example by Get Satisfaction above is one way to get feedback on how your customers see your product. My buddy Dan Martell , suggested that investors just ask their users what 3 words come to mind when they think of XXX company.
You need to be describing your company using the same words that they would use, and you know you have a problem if they describe something completely different than what you built.