A marketing deck, also known as a pitch deck or deck, is a core component of the sales process. It builds to the critical moment when a salesperson tries to finalize the sale. In concrete terms, the marketing deck is a presentation that is used in front of clients to pitch an idea or product. The marketing deck is powerful because it helps the potential customer feel more closely connected to the company or product.

This connection between the potential customer and the company occurs when the prospective customer comes to a deeper understanding of the product or service being offered. When that deeper level of understanding is associated with an appreciation for the product or service and the belief that what’s being sold can help them, the prospective buyer comes to the verge of being converted to a customer.

At that point in the sales process, it’s time for the sales individual to close the sale and call the customer to action - buying the product or service.

Because of the emphasis on driving sales, the marketing deck may also be known as a sales deck.

These decks are also commonly associated with pitching to investors in the hope of generating new investments in a business, particularly among startups. However, decks aren’t necessarily limited to just pitching a startup. Any time a digital presentation involves getting people to buy a product or service, using a deck can be helpful because it helps to organize the presentation and provides visual aids that inform potential buyers about the advantages of making a purchase.

Sellers should invest significant time and effort into creating the most effective decks possible whether they be to attract new investors or gain a sale.

Tools Used in Marketing Decks

Since the marketing deck comes down to being a visual presentation of a product, service or business, there are a few tools that can be used to help make the sale. In past decades, visual aids were brought by sellers in the form of large photo displays or diagrams that could be presented physically to potential clients.

In the modern era, this process has been simplified with the help of digital tools. One additional name for a deck is a media deck, which probably shouldn’t be surprising given the emphasis on integrating various forms of media into the presentation. This is often at the core of a digital marketing agency presentation.

Microsoft PowerPoint is the most common form of visual aid used by marketers. PowerPoint allows marketers to combine text with pictures, graphics and even videos that highlight why potential clients should make a purchase or invest in a business. Apple’s Keynote software can accomplish many of the same things. Keynote allows the seller to create visuals across multiple slides that include a variety of layouts, images, text, graphs and videos.

Given the mobile nature of the modern world, it’s also helpful to be able to pitch an idea on the go or in the absence of a traditional computer. One piece of software, Canva, allows sales individuals to do this using the iPad. Canva allows individuals to keep various graphic designs and images – paired with text – stored on their tablets.

A salesperson can quickly go through a presentation on the fly without having to find a nearby computer. This makes software like Canva valuable in specific situations when the opportunity to make a sales presentation suddenly presents itself.

Principles Behind the Marketing Deck

When creating a deck, it’s important to keep three principles in mind. The first principle to remember is that clear and simple presentations are the most effective presentations. Visuals are powerful and video can be compelling, but it’s also possible to make a presentation feel overly stuffed with content.

The visual and audio components of a deck should enhance the presentation of the facts, not overwhelm the facts with bells and whistles.

Any presentation a seller creates also needs to be compelling. It’s hard to place in concrete terms how to make a compelling presentation, but ideally, any presentation should have a solid mix of firm ideas, informative graphs and just enough visual flair to keep the audience interested.

Making a compelling presentation is partly an art form and requires an understanding of what the audience best responds to during the course of a presentation.

The last principle that sellers need to adhere to when designing a deck is to remember to make the presentation easy to act on. Never design a presentation that doesn’t include a call to action, whether that means making a purchase or an investment at the end of the sale. Provide viewers with the tools to make these purchases and investments, such as website destinations to visit, if there’s no way to do so in the moment.

The best time to make the sale is during the closing moments, so you will want to have a way for viewers to make their investments within seconds after you’ve finished your talk.

Components of a Deck

Although decks will vary depending on whether what is being sold is a product, service or business, it’s still useful to know the nine segments of a good presentation.

Any deck should begin with a presentation of the problem, usually a niche that a business, product or service can fill. Following the presentation of the problem, what is being sold can be presented as the solution to that problem. The target market should be described, and marketers should tell their audience how the business, product or service solves the existing problem in that market.

What is being sold should be described in detail before marketers then move on to talk about project growth. If the business, product or service has already demonstrated significant growth, this can attract investors. Marketers should also describe who makes up the business. This is particularly important when trying to pitch a startup business, since investors want to know the past successes of the current team and what talents they’ll bring to the current business.

Many of the last elements of a deck discussed here have to do with marketing to investors. Existing competition in the market should be discussed, with marketers describing what superior value their product, service or business brings to the market. The financials of the business should be described, including financial projections estimated for the next few years. Finally, marketers should describe the range of money that they’re looking to generate from new investors.

Pitching for Startups

Although creating a marketing deck seems ideally suited to selling a product or service, a deck is also useful when a business is trying to attract investors that can help sustain the business in its early years. The reason that most startups fail is because they lack the appropriate funding to continue operations. In many cases, startups lack an adequate business model to function in the long term, but there are also many cases when a startup simply lacks the initial funding to persist in the long term. Because of this, developing a deck can be useful to startups trying to attract investors.

Investors are interested in knowing whether they’re going to get an adequate return on their investment, and they certainly don’t want to lose money on that investment. To get investors on board with a startup early in the process, business owners and entrepreneurs need to create a deck that can sell the value of investing in the business.

These presentations should often begin with a quick, abbreviated pitch on what the business concept is about. This quick introduction to the startup should be engaging and strong enough to catch the audience’s attention.

It’s also important not to overlook the importance of creating a detailed financial section to the deck that discusses revenue projects and startup investment costs. The majority of time that investors spend looking at a deck involves reviewing the financials, making the financial segment among the most important parts of the deck that a marketer should design.

The Elevator Pitch

The catchy introduction to any deck is more commonly known as the elevator pitch, and there are effective ways of making one. In its essence, the elevator pitch condenses the entire sales pitch to something bite-size and easily understandable.

These abbreviated pitches should sell the idea in no more than a minute and, ideally, around 30 seconds. Because this is such an abbreviated approach to selling, many sellers, even excellent ones, find it difficult to create a condensed version of their deck.

Essentially, the elevator pitch, within the context of the deck, is a preview of things to come. It quickly addresses the existing problem; the solutions presented by a product, service or business; and the market that will be served.

Elevator pitches rarely get bogged down in the details of the sale, such as financial minutiae or requests for investment money. Those larger ideas that deal with precise numbers are best left to the larger, more detailed sale.

Elevator pitches can still use statistics, facts and forecasts to highlight the point they’re making. Consistent with the elevator pitch, these numbers should be used to highlight the overall message rather than go in depth behind the numbers. If a seller wants to discuss those figures in greater detail, that can be reserved for some point in the rest of the deck.

More than anything else, marketers need to be aware that the elevator pitch is meant for communicating the most critical bullet points that serve to demonstrate the value of a product, business or service.

Summary of the Marketing Deck

A deck isn’t difficult to understand. It’s a visual presentation that integrates different types of media in an attempt to drive increased sales of a product or service, though in many cases it is used to help drive increased investment in a startup business.

Despite the reason behind the creation of a given deck, they all are designed similarly no matter what is being sold. They are typically created to introduce what’s being sold in a quick elevator pitch before proceeding into the details of the sale.

Each deck should be easy to understand and compelling, while also including calls to action that make it easy to make the sale on the spot.

Potential buyers or consumers will more likely feel compelled to buy if they come to have a greater understanding of what’s being sold and what problem it solves.

For investors, the sale is more likely to occur when the startup business being presented has solid financial projections for the kinds of financial returns that investors will expect.