Crafting Your WOW Statement

Getting someone to say "Wow! How do you do that?" is a matter of crafting a concise and evocative WOW statement.

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  • Founders School || Powerful Presentations || Crafting Your WOW Statement || Impact Guide (PDF).

  • Reichert, B. (2010). Getting to Wow! (PDF) Garage Technology Ventures.


    So this segment is how to craft your own wow statements.  Now why do you even need a wow statement?  Well, a number of years ago a very famous venture capitalist in Silicon Valley named Bill Reichert was tired of hearing people come into his office and spend 10 or 15 minutes to describe what they do.  So he wrote this paper called "Getting to Wow" which helps you, the entrepreneur, distil down the essence of what you do into a single statement that when you say it, people respond with wow, how do you do that.  Or wow, that's interesting I'd like to know more.  Bill Reichert's Wow Statement for Garage Technology Ventures is brilliant, "we startup startups."  Very easy language to understand.  It's not complicated.  It doesn't tell them exactly what they're doing.  But it gives them an indication and gives people an interesting idea to think about where they might actually say wow, tell me some more.  

    So I would like to share with you a number of ways that you can actually create these yourself.  So the sources to find these similes, analogies and metaphors to come up with these great wow statements, they're actually in your head.  You live and breathe the stuff all the time.  So all you need to do is get some inspiration and get it out of your head.  One way to get it out of your head is to ask your team.  Your team members, often when they are in social settings or in business settings when asked what do they do, how they respond maybe around the dinner table to their friends could be very enlightening to you in terms of how you talk about your business without actually literally saying what you do.  

    You can also get information about these similes, analogies and metaphors by going out and working with customers, early adopters or even people that say no, I don't want to use your stuff.  Before those people leave who say no, I don't want to use your product or your services, stop for a moment and say okay, I get that, but why don't you want to use it?  And something that they say in response to that question might give you clear indication of a better way that you should talk about what you're doing so you don't lose them.  Or you can use that information as a way to make sure that whatever you do say in the future has a bigger wow and a bigger response.  

    So here are three things that you can do on your own or with your team to come up with ways to get these statements out of your head.  You can go to one of the stock photo houses and start to look around at photos so that you can put photos into the right side of your brain and start to get more associations out of yourself o that you can come up with these statements.  They are already in there.  You and your team can do these together or you can do it by yourself.  So go to one of these stock photo houses like iStockphoto or Jupiterimages.  And go in and search on one or two terms that describe your business.  

    For example, let's say your business deals with security.  Here I'm in Jupiterimages I type in security and search.  It comes up with 502 pages of 60 pictures per page.  Now forget about the first bunch of pages.  Don't care about those because they will be too literal to the word security.  My suggestion is jump to the end and work backwards.  Because what I want to happen in your brain is I want you to look at a picture of somebody hugging let's say on page 501.  Say what does that have to do with security.  I want your brain to actually go "Huh?".  Then you might see a photo like a bank vault and all of a sudden you say oh, that's the perfect metaphor for our business.  Our fire wall is the bank vault, or whatever your technology is that you're talking about.  And then when you press show me other pictures by the same photographer maybe you find another picture that inspires you even further, like maybe the yellow tape the police put up when they say do not cross.  And during your product presentation or your investor presentation you can reach in your bag, pull out that yellow tape and say when you use our software nothing gets through.  It'll be a little different, a little bit of showmanship.  Maybe nobody else would reach in their bag and show something to an audience.  

    Now the second tool that you can use to help you with inspiration for similes, analogies and metaphors or even stories or titles is going to,  It comes in 68 different languages.  No matter where you are in the world if you need inspiration go to and you can get some great ideas on tag lines.  Because they hire some of the best writers in the world.  And they write short stories.  They write jokes.  They write little lines that you can use.  Take something that you like there, change out the words.  

    The third tool that has great analogies, similes and metaphors that can help you with your wow statements are movie critics.  Movie critics are often limited to a very short, very short number of words to describe to you what the experience of that movie was.  And then from that description you decide whether or not you want to go.  They are kings and queens of using similes, analogies and metaphors.  

    In coming up with these statements yourself, let me give you a couple of guidelines that you can use to design your own wow statements.  So guideline number one is the wow statement should be no more than three sentences.  Okay.  One is best, two is okay, three is max.  If it's more than three sentences, it's probably starting to sound more like an elevator pitch.  The second guideline is no more than 30 seconds.  If it takes you more than 30 seconds to get somebody to say wow, it's not a wow statement.  The third guideline is you want to use visual language.  Language that brings pictures into the mind of your listener.  Don't stand up there and say, oh, we make social networking software or we make social networking platform.  Oh.  What's a platform?  But if you stand up there and meet somebody and they say what do you do and you say we make a machine that turns water into money, they go wow, how do you do that.  So be sure and use visual language; machine, water, money.  Those are visual words.  

    And finally, when coming up with these wow statements don't stop at one.  You need one really, really well‑tested wow statement that you can use that gets reactions from just about everybody you use it on.  But you need two more as backup.  Because if you happen to travel somewhere and the wow statement you're using doesn't work on the audiences that you're dealing with right there, you can't just sit down and quickly come up with another one of these.  You need to reach in your pocket and use another one.  

    So use those as resources to help you come up with really great wow statements.  So that when you go out and meet people and they say who are you and what do you do, you will be able to reach out, say who you are, and tell them a statement where they respond to you by saying wow, how do you do that.  You mean you make a machine that turns water into money?  I want to know more about that.