Crafting Your Idea Submission: Perfecting The 140-Character Pitch

Posted ago by Baron

When you open up the Quirky submission page, the very first section you are asked to fill out is the 140-Character Idea Description. As the shortest part of your product pitch, this step is often dismissed as quick and easy, but looks can be deceiving. While the description may be no longer than a tweet, it’s the first thing that people see when viewing your submission, and the only text they’re exposed to when browsing through active ideas. Thus, it’s important to take the time to craft a solid 140-character description, as this is the component that will drive people to look at the rest of your submission— or not. Since everyone can’t be a copywriter or certified wordsmith, here are a few tips to keep in mind.


Before All Else, Be Descriptive
Because a Quirky idea submission is positioned as a pitch, it’s very easy to get wrapped up in creative ways to market your product. Rhetorical questions (“don’t you hate…”), calls to action (“hey, let’s revolutionize…”), and qualifying statements (“Kids love iPads…”), all seem like compelling ways to draw attention to your idea, but you can’t forget that the most important factor considered by Quirky is the product concept itself. At the end of the day, anyone can claim that their product will be revolutionary, or that the market potential is huge, but no one can fabricate the core quality and value of a product. If you convey the problem you’re trying to solve, along with your proposed solution, most consumers (especially the experts on the Quirky staff) will be able to deduce its potential impact for themselves.

First and foremost, the role of the 140-character idea description is to tell what the idea actually is. In this case, clearer is always better: don’t just relate that your product is a “better, faster” ice cream scoop, but make sure that the viewer understands WHY it’s better and faster. Of course, the description is rather limited in length, so you may not always have room for to fully explain the problem, or to explain why the product is unique. However, if you manage to describe the product and what it does, those 140 characters have done their job. Here are two examples of selected product submissions that featured excellent descriptions:


Draw Attention to Assets
While the most important elements of a product pitch are the description and concept images, a submission may contain other compelling assets that the viewer might not notice at first glance. Embedded videos, a custom prototype, or a demonstration of a working prototype are all inconspicuous elements that can lend some serious weight to your submission. Thus, if you have the space, it’s worthwhile to briefly acknowledge the presence of a video, prototype, or other valuable asset that may not be evident on the Participate page.

If an idea is being resubmitted, updates and changes to your submission would fall into this category as well. It may take a few more characters, but if you have the room, it helps to briefly address what is different, so that repeat viewers do not immediately dismiss it without a closer look. “Resubmitted with video”, “Resubmitted with simpler design”, and “Resubmitted with better scraper” are all examples of how this can be done.


Proofread Like It’s Your Job (Because It Is)
Really, we cannot stress this enough. The easiest way to derail a quality submission is to rush the description and miss a key typo: nobody wants a product that helps detect “beast cancer”. Before finalizing your description, be sure to double-check your work to ensure that there are no mistakes, and to make sure that your phrase structure makes sense. Since you’re only working with 140 characters, you don’t have to use complete sentences, but you want to make sure that your chosen words convey the idea clearly. Here are two examples  of descriptions that clearly communicate the idea in question, even without complete sentences:

Also, as a final note: please, PLEASE AVOID TYPING IN ALL CAPS. We’re pretty sure a puppy dies every time that happens.


Final Touches
While we may place great emphasis on clear, effective product descriptions, we aren’t named “Quirky” because of a nervous tick, so this emphasis should not be misconstrued as a dislike of cool and creative idea descriptions. So long as your description conveys the product concept clearly, there’s nothing wrong with instilling your own personal or creative touches. In short, feel free to have fun. Adding a bit of humor or a personal anecdote is a great way to endear the viewer to a product concept. Suggesting a potential name can also be effective: while there are some concerns about the propriety of submitting a name, since product naming is handled during the development process, it can’t be denied that a cute or clever name can help a product stand out in a reader’s mind. Some names, such as Rake N’ Tamp, were so catchy that they were eventually chosen for the final product as well. We love it when a plan comes together.

Other Articles in This Series:
Crafting Your Idea Submission: The Basics
Crafting Your Idea Submission: Research, Research, Research
Crafting Your Idea Submission: Add Some Character
Crafting Your Idea Submission: The Power of Visuals

Comments (69)

Laura Doty
Oops! Sorry, puppy.
Baron Nagy
Don't worry Laura, that was mostly referring to folks who type their entire description in caps. You keep it classy :)
Ernesto Tan
Very helpful Post Baron! Thanks!
MarcR
Baron, can I have you write my next few submission titles? You've always had a way with words. Nice article.
maxi
Baron thanks. Now I have to self critique my ideas and figure out what im doing wrong or need to fix
Yolanda Jackson
@Marc R I agree, me too :)
SamZ
I love these articles. I am going to keep reading and refining. Thanks
sikotiq
Hear! Hear! About 90% of my votes are based solely on that brief description and the accompanying picture. I rarely actually open up the idea to read the entire description. It's kind of like a commercial --- you've got a short period of time to convince me to pay attention, or I'm moving on to something else. There are a lot of great ideas out there, so an effective summary is one way to make sure your idea doesn't get buried and/or ignored. Thank you to everyone who takes the time to make their pitch interesting!
Brandon Murray
Baron, you're my favorite blogger. Actually I don't read any other blogs, but good work! ;-)
Elizabeth Wingfield
Please, Please, Please, entwine these blog posts with the submission form, and send them to new members in their welcome email!
Baron Nagy
EW, Steven is already working on it.
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Very helpful post. Thanks.
JonesAndJones
All your posts, or at least their links, should go in that welcome email. Along with a list of what Quirky is definitely not looking for. Thanks, again, Baron.
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Nice read. Helps us all move forward in a direction that Q wants.
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Thank you Baron. Your recommendation is very practical!
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Wow, great and practical info. Wish I found this two months ago!
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Good tips Baron, I create inventions better than writing about them, I am always impressed when I see a pro ex-plane how to do it.
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