So, you’re ready to hire a pitch deck writer. Let me tell you a story that is all too familiar.
You’ve thought up an amazing business idea, built traction, and scheduled a pitch with an angel investor. As you’re ticking off the many boxes on your investor pitch checklist, you realize something is missing. Uh oh, you completely forgot that you need a pitch deck.
Immediately, you open PowerPoint on your laptop, with sweat dripping down your face. After three hours, the only progress you’ve made is typing the company’s name on the Title slide. With tears in your eyes, you give up and type “pitch deck writer” into the Google search bar.
Unfortunately, many founders share your experience. Thousands of entrepreneurs contact pitch deck writers every year in a panicked frenzy. But, if you know what to look for, you can find the optimal professional to create an investor pitch deck.
There are a few things you need to know before contracting a pitch deck consultant. With that investor meeting approaching rapidly, you may only have one shot to get your deck right.
What is a Pitch Deck Writer?
A pitch deck writer is an individual, agency, or company hired to write and design a startup’s pitch deck. They develop the tools that startup teams need to approach investors and raise capital.
The pitch deck writer’s job is to assist startups by performing market research and developing the brand’s messaging. Furthermore, they prepare financial projections, analyze competitors, write content, and design the final presentation.
Preparing to Hire a Pitch Deck Writer
Creating a pitch deck is an extremely involved process. Despite what most entrepreneurs believe, writing and designing are only small pieces to a much larger puzzle. Unfortunately, finding a capable writer or designer doesn’t guarantee that you’ll end up with an investor-ready pitch deck.
According to statistics, only 1% of pitch decks attract investors and land investment money. Finding the right person or company to create your deck is crucial for your success.
Preparation is key to hiring a capable consultant. There are three preliminary steps you should take to prepare for the project and maximize your success potential.
1) Define Your Goals and Objectives
Startup consultants have varied skills, backgrounds, and experiences. The company may have more experience in one industry than another. Or, they may have more success creating one type of pitch deck over the next. The best pitch deck writer is one whose experience aligns with your startup’s goals and objectives.
Start the process by defining your goals.
For example, you should know what type of audience will view or read your deck. A pitch deck for presenting to a VC firm may vastly differ from one used to impress a startup accelerator program. Likewise, a presentation deck will look much different than one prepared for email.
Defining your goals and objectives early on makes evaluating startup consultants easier and quicker. Ultimately, your goal shouldn’t be to simply hire someone to create a pitch deck. Anyone with PowerPoint experience can toss a slideshow together. Unfortunately, very few can successfully help your startup reach its desired result.
2) Outline Key Messages
Your pitch deck must capture more than just information about your business. It encompasses your brand voice, tone, and personality. It communicates the specific messages that form the foundation of your brand.
Too many entrepreneurs expect a pitch deck writer to create magic without any guidance or prior exposure to the brand. You know more about your startup than anyone, and your insights are important in the process. If you want your writer to stay on brand as they communicate your business, spend time creating brand guidelines.
In your project spec, answer the following questions:
- What key messages do you want to display in your pitch deck?
- What personality should the pitch deck reflect? Young and fun? Mature and professional?
- What is the tone of the pitch deck? Happy? Stern?
- What feeling do you want the audience to take away from your pitch deck?
Remember that the more information you provide to your pitch deck writer, the better the outcome you can expect. Knowing the goals beforehand gives you clarity in the evaluation process as you choose the right professional for your project.
3) Assess Existing and Required Resources
Finally, evaluate what resources you already have and what you actually need from your hired professional. Hiring a pitch deck agency gives you access to professionals who can help with different parts of your deck. For example, they can provide market research, financial modeling, branding, content development, and design.
Yet, if you have some of these assets already, there’s no reason to duplicate them. That would only require you to pay for them again and lengthen the time required to complete your deck. For example, if you’ve already written the content, you may only need a designer. If you’ve already modeled your financials, it can save time and money to have the company use your existing asset.
How To Evaluate A Pitch Deck Writer
The difference between a successful and failed pitch deck comes down to the experience and ability of the person creating it. You’ll likely interview several startup consultants, but you also need to know how to evaluate them. As you evaluate professionals, agencies, and companies, you should analyze their experience, industry understanding, and track record.
1) Experience & Expertise
Hiring someone with pitch deck experience isn’t enough to create a winning document. A well-written and aesthetically-pleasing presentation alone won’t attract investors. It is more important to find a company with funding knowledge, storytelling expertise, and a keen market understanding.
Are They Knowledgable?
Look for a writer who deeply understands the startup funding landscape. The optimal professional will understand various funding sources, including venture capital, angel investors, and crowdfunding. They will also have a clear understanding of the specific requirements of each funding avenue.
With their expertise, they can help you decide the right funding source for your startup, situation, and goals. Writers unfamiliar with the nuances of each funding channel will struggle to craft a pitch deck that aligns with investor preferences.
Can They Tell Your Startup’s Story?
Although your deck needs to communicate the right information, it should also be engaging. A well-written pitch will pull investors in and have them hanging on every word. Storytelling is the key to keeping your audience’s attention.
Storytelling is a powerful approach for conveying a startup and its potential impact. Make sure the writer you hire can create a captivating story that grabs investors’ interest. They should know how to present characters, follow a plot, and leave the audience wanting more.
Do They Know How Investors Think?
Your pitch deck writer should also understand how investors think in today’s market. The startup landscape constantly evolves. Today’s trends become outdated quickly, and markets shift rapidly.
A worthy consultant stays updated on the most recent trends and incorporates them into their work. As an expert, they can offer valuable insights to align your startup to current industry dynamics. Since they know how investors think, they can craft a deck that speaks to investors’ interests.
2) Industry & Niche Understanding
No individual or company has expertise across every industry. However, some elements of operating a business apply across every industry. For example, certain words or phrases may carry over from one industry to another. Still, each industry has its own nuances, jargon, and challenges.
With enough time, a competent startup consultant can perform the necessary research to learn your niche. But, if your team is in a hurry, there may not be enough time to understand the nuances of your industry.
Ultimately, the less experience they have with your niche, the more they will rely on their research capabilities. Someone with a strong research background can quickly grasp and understand the intricacies of your particular niche. The best writer will find market reports and customer studies, analyze the market, and use insights to learn quickly.
Furthermore, a capable writer should know what questions to ask and who they should seek out for an answer. Sometimes, they will engage you as the source for certain information. Other times, they may reach out to industry experts, leaders, or influencers to learn more about the industry.
The ideal consultant will have a proactive approach to research. They will welcome the opportunity to research and learn about a new market.
A lack of experience in your particular industry shouldn’t always be a deal breaker. Consultants with no industry experience can still be effective if they’ve created decks for the same target audience.
A consultant skilled in creating pitch decks for real estate tech companies can likely make one for a crypto startup. While these industries are vastly different, they share similar target audiences – investors. Therefore, the consultant may already be familiar with the target audience, its situations, needs, and language.
3) Track Record
A consultant’s track record is another important consideration. Ask about the successful pitch decks they created in the past and the results of those projects. If they cannot produce case studies or success stories that align with your goals, it could be cause for concern.
As you interview consultants, don’t fall into the trap of setting your expectations too high. A pre-seed startup shouldn’t require its consultants to have a portfolio full of clients that raised millions in funding. A very small handful of startups raise millions of dollars in the seed stage.
Instead, have realistic expectations of how much your company has the potential to raise. Then, look for consultants who have helped similar companies raise seed capital within the same range.
It is also important to realize that the pitch deck isn’t the only contributor to fundraising success. A startup can have the best pitch deck, but other elements can still cause it to fail at raising capital.
There could be a reason that the consultant can’t deliver million-dollar success studies. It is possible that they created great pitch decks for teams in industries that investors aren’t interested in. Another possibility is that they designed amazing pitch decks for mediocre teams that couldn’t pitch them properly.
Sidenote: Don’t go into your pitch unprepared. Check out our article on how to deliver a great pitch to attract investors.
As you interview consultants, ask about companies they have worked with previously. Don’t focus all your attention on huge numbers, but look at their overall impact.
Seek to understand where the client started and the outcomes they achieved as a result of the pitch deck service. Spend some time looking through their portfolio, if they have one available. Focus on the entire package, not just the pitch deck design.
Design is the least important element of a deck to investors. There are more important aspects to evaluate when you’re examining a consultant’s portfolio. Look at how well they researched the market, how they conveyed the startup story, and how they communicated product-market fit.
Contracting A Pitch Deck Writer
So you’ve contacted a consultant or agency, evaluated their abilities, and assessed their portfolio. You feel confident that they can deliver a professional pitch deck. They’ve proven their pitch deck writing skills and you’re excited to proceed.
Before you decide to move forward, it is important to understand the specifics of the project and contract. At a minimum, you should have a clear understanding of pricing, terms, and deliverables.
Pitch Deck Service – Pricing
Pitch deck services can vary from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. If you want to hire someone with years of experience and proven results, expect to pay a premium.
Different companies have varying business models, so decide your top budget before you begin negotiating. Price is simple to understand, but the pricing model may be a bit more confusing. Startup consultants typically use one of the following pricing models, including fixed-fee, hourly, and equity-based.
Most often, consultants use a fixed fee model for pitch deck services. The company will propose a price for the entire project based on your specific requirements. They usually request a 50% deposit upfront and require you to pay the remaining amount once they achieve certain goals.
Few companies charge an hourly rate for pitch deck creation. But if you hire freelancers, they will likely place bids with an hourly price.
Be careful when contracting a writer using this model. Make sure you understand how many hours it takes them to create similar pitch decks, on average. Pitch presentations may look simple from the outside, but they can prove extremely time-consuming. For reference, at ThinkLions, our pitch deck services typically require more than 80 manhours from start to finish.
It isn’t common, but some startup consultants may propose an equity-based payment model. An experienced pitch deck writer will only offer this agreement to a startup with traction and a high valuation. You should deeply consider the pros and cons of an equity-based agreement. You might pay more over time with equity than with a fixed fee.
Pitch Deck Service – Terms and Deliverables
The final step is to negotiate the terms of service. The output of your project isn’t the only thing you should consider.
Ideally, you want to experience a smooth and predictable process from onboarding to delivery. During negotiations, ask the pitch deck consultant about revisions, ownership, and confidentiality.
How Many Revisions Do They Offer?
Entrepreneurs often enter the project with certain expectations. Before starting a project, they already visualize how the deck will appear, including graphics and font selection. Even the best pitch deck writer may not meet your expectations on the first delivery. The project will probably need at least one revision along the way.
You might expect a couple of rounds of revisions to be industry standard. But, the contract terms may not state a specific number of revisions. Sometimes, consultants don’t allow for any revisions.
This situation is risky. You either have to live with the deck, make revisions yourself, or pay additional fees to the consultant for changes. An extra two or three rounds of revisions could end up costing hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Other consultants may have a defined number of revision rounds. For example, their contract may clearly state that they are willing to do two rounds of revisions with no additional fee. This method is definitely less risky than agreeing to not have any revision opportunities.
At ThinkLions, we offer unlimited revision stages. Our team sends numerous client updates at every step of the process. These updates allow us to collect and implement our clients’ feedback along the way.
Even with unlimited revisions, problems can arise. If the consultant doesn’t update you, the first finished draft might be far lower than your expectation. It may require significant and time-consuming changes.
Clarify how many iterations the consultant will allow. Also, make sure they define how often they will update you on the project’s progress.
A Note About Confidentiality
Confidentiality is an important factor to negotiate in your service contract. You may think your consultant will be careful with your information, but that assumption can be costly. Many companies and freelancers use their client projects as samples in their portfolios. If your competitors contact them, they may also be able to access your pitch deck.
Some teams encourage others to share their pitch decks. They want to reach the most people possible with their brand message and offer. However, this could lead to the wrong people gaining access to the details of their startup.
If you’re fine with a consultant using your presentation in their portfolio, make sure to state it in the contract. Better safe than sorry!
The Final Step Before You Decide
Follow these tips and you will certainly find a pitch deck writer that can help you achieve your goals. Remember the factors that matter and use them to assess prospective consultants as you go forward.
If you need help with your pitch deck, we encourage you to contact us. Over the last decade, we have worked with more than 500 startups. We’ve created pitch decks and business plans that have raised over $50 million from investors. Click to learn more about our pitch deck services!