It’s hard to explain what your startup does.

I’m surprised to discover how hard it is to explain what Frozen Event does.

I find it hard to get past my limiting belief that the idea behind Frozen Event is is not only brilliant, but obvious too. Yet when I ask my friends (who have been listening to me for months) what Frozen Event is, they think it’s something different to what I think it is. This was driven home to me recently when I sat down with a few close friends to try and work out how I can communicate the core idea better. After an hour of deep discussion, it turned out each of them heard a different thing.

A few days later I sat down with one of them, and after two hours of discussion, diagrams, lists, and pure mental effort from both of us we finally reached a point where we both had the same understanding of what Frozen Event does.

When a potential new photographer visits my home page I suspect I get about 10-15 seconds before they decide if they are going to sign up or move on. Given that two or three hours is my benchmark for explaining my idea, I’m sure most people don’t get the right idea.

How can I get the message clearer? What specific activities can I do that will improve my ability to explain the core idea?

So far I have tried a few things with various levels of success:

  • Spending hours talking to friends, family, and anyone-who-will-listen. I explain what Frozen Event does, and carefully listen to them as I go. Trying to figure out where their understanding differs from mine. This is time consuming, and emotionally expensive, but provides lots of insight.
  • Writing out a summary of WHY Frozen Event exists , and what problem it is trying to solve (in line with this TED talk). Sending this out on Twitter resulted in many questions along the line of “but HOW does it solve these problems”. This seems to get people interested, though it leads to more work, as I now need to create a clear explanation for how I solve these problems.
  • Testing various different simplified explanations when talking to people. The one that gets the most traction in peoples minds is “Frozen Event uses Facebook to connect a photographer with people they have already taken photos of, and so sell more photos“. This is such an over simplification that it makes me cringe, but maybe I have to simplify it that much to get any communication started.

What I’m moving towards is a redesign of the Home page. The major success criteria for the new home page is going to be to communicate as fast as possible what Frozen Event does. I suspect that an explainer video is going to be involved, meaning my next step is going to be to write a script.

Have you had problems explaining your startup idea to people, or do you have a suggestions for how I can explain Frozen Event better? If so let me know in the comments below.


7 thoughts on “It’s hard to explain what your startup does.”

  1. To advise on how to explain it better, it would be helpful to know what misperceptions people have.

    *Sometimes* eliminating common misperceptions leads to more rapid accurate comprehension .

    1. It helps photographers sell more photos from an Event. It makes sure the people in the photos know the photos exist, and then deals with the details, like collecting money, and emailing photos.

  2. Try to narrow down your target audience. You list the following as examples of events:
    - sports competitions
    - weddings
    - talent shows
    - high school proms
    - university graduations
    and it dilutes the message. If you were targeting, say weddings, you could tailor everything around that experience and hopefully have better success explaining the concept.
    Hope this helps.

    - Gummi

    1. I have been thinking about that. Is “event photographer” a narrow enough target audience, or do people look at it and think “what does that mean”?

      One option is to be more specific about the target audience, like you suggest. Another option is to work on the biggest misunderstanding – which seems to be that many photographers don’t realise that there are a large number of people willing to buy their photos, who have no idea where to buy the photos from, or even that they are for sale in the first place.

      1. You should ask photographers how they self categorize themselves :)

        My gut tells me “event photographer” is too broad to begin with. If you want to catch someone’s attention in 10-15 seconds (as you mention in the blog post) the message has to be very specific so people can relate to it. Specificity also makes it easier to explain through examples that are real, not just generics – think about when someone told you a good story, what made it interesting? Probably the vivid details that you could relate to, and that’s what you should be aiming for.

        Also, this makes it easier for you to reach your audience. If you focus on, say, wedding photographs, you can work with wedding planners, wedding registries, and a whole slew of businesses that focus solely on weddings. The “event industry” isn’t a uniform group of companies that do anything events related.

        Now, the downside of being specific is that you might pick the wrong target audience to begin with, or it might be too small to be worthwhile, or… you get where this is going. You probably have to experiment with a few groups, get to know them and just wiggle your way to the right point. Not easy, but if you get that beach head, you can grow from there.

  3. If I can, I would suggest the following:

    1) Realise WHO is coming to the page and what they WANT. How they are getting there is irrelevant.
    I would suggest:
    Amateur Photographers
    Pro/Semi Pro Photographers
    People looking to buy pictures
    Everyone else

    2) Segment the homepage, with a short sentence about what your product does for them, and an icon that they will identify with.
    Their eye will be drawn to the icon, read the text and give them the ‘AHA!’ moment.

    3) Have the text/icon link to a separate page with increasingly detailed information. One paragraph overview, a clear call to action, and then as many as you need to detail further.

    One site I worked on that does this reasonably well is:

    Clear segmentation and target your message to each type of people.

    As a photographer, I don’t care about the buyer, I care about money.

    As someone wanting to buy pictures, I don’t care about the photographer I care about the pictures.

    I may be a bit off the mark not knowing your product as intimately as you, but feel free to grab me on any social media to discuss further if you wish :)

Leave a Reply to Gummi Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>