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Age Old Marketing Technique Improves Business Plan Executive Summaries

Every business plan book tells you how the Executive Summary is your opportunity to provide a brief overview of your business plan; capture your readers' attention and imagination; and, summarize the plan's highlights and key selling points.

So, why am I telling you these 3 things when you probably already know them?

Because it's useless advice unless you employ one, not so obvious, age old marketing technique to make these points come alive.

This one technique is the key to the ultimate success of your business plan and its ability to attract potential investors. More importantly, it will help you raise money for your business?potentially a lot of it.

Best of all, it costs nothing to "do" and can save time finding serious investors.

The not so great news is it's rarely found in "business plan" books or on most business plan websites.

It's one thing David Galdstone doesn't tell you how to do in his popular "Venture Capital Handbook."

You won't find it in David E. Gumpert's book, "Burn Your Business Plan."

In fact, the Small Business Administration, Business Plan Pro, and other popular business plan web sites never mention it.

A Wall Street Favorite

This ONE marketing technique is used by the most prestigious investment bankers on Wall Street to raise millions of dollars in equity and debt financing for their clients.

It's how major newspaper publishers trigger the public's curiosity and sell newspapers.

So, what exactly is this powerful marketing technique that single handily can unleash the value in your business plan? It's writing interrupting and engaging headlines.

See, I told you it was simple.

Marketers and news people have always understood how effective, well-written headlines make it easier for readers to scan for information. Through experience and testing, they've learned that the public reads little else when deciding whether or not they are interested. And, I'm telling you that busy investors are no different.

Why Isn't Everybody Using It?

Good question... see, most people providing advice about business plans are lawyers and accountants. People who get marred in legalese and make their money by making things complicated. They also tend to confuse headlines with hype.

The truth is that you can use headlines to provide a more powerful overview of your business plan, capture your readers' attention and imagination, and better summarize the plan's highlights and key selling points -- all the things they say your Executive Summary must do, without resorting to hype.

Moreover, well thought out headlines, when taken collectively, succinctly tell your business plan story. Just by scanning the headlines in your Executive Summary, your readers will be able to know exactly what your business plan is all about and whether or not it fits their investment strategy.

The success of your entire business plan may stand or fall on what is said in the headlines of the plan's individual sections. These headlines must arouse the investor's curiosity and self-interest.

I have seen time and again, cases where business plan writers, both professionals and do-it-yourselfers, struggle writing content for hours, for days-fixing it, polishing it, rearranging it. Yet, when it comes to headlines, they put in no thought or effort, often resorting to the same old "information-less" sub-headings used in every sample business plan or template.

So let me ask you this: What good is all the painstaking work on content if there are no headlines to first stop investors and make them want to read your plan?

How To Give Investors A Reason To Want To Read!

Absent any previous knowledge of your business venture or plan, investors have little else to spark their curiosity and self-interest. In the absence of headlines or the presence of poor ones, the best writers in the world can't write content that will sell the venture. They haven't a chance. Because if the headlines are poor or lacking, the business plan will not be read. And business plans that are not read do not get funded.

Before starting on possible headlines, review the content in your Executive Summary. Somewhere in this content you are likely to find the four or five key selling points of your plan on which to base your headlines -- not the exact words for the headline, but the concept on which your headlines will be based. Now spend all the time you need to get the best headlines possible, then rewrite and polish your content till it flows naturally from headline to headline.

Remember, headlines decide whether or not investors stop a moment and look at your business plan, or even read a little of it. And, headlines that appeal to investors' self-interest, give news, or arouse curiosity in this order are often the most successful headlines.

Go take a look at the Executive Summary in your business plan. Do you use headlines to capture your readers' attention and imagination and better summarize your plan's highlights and key selling points? If not, you're missing a great opportunity. Go ahead, step away from crowd and write headlines that offer investors something they want. When you do, they will take time to read the content in your business plan.

Mike Elia is a chief financial officer and an advisor to venture capitalists and leverage buyout specialists. His business plan ebook "Business Plan Secrets Revealed" shows how to make your business the most appealing investment choice to venture capitalist, bankers, and other business investors. For his free business plan guide click here.

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