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The one about pitches

Published in Stories
by Daniel Djarmati
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Pitches or bitches, however you like to call them, drive people crazy. Coffee & Red Bull consumption goes through the roof, but they bring business and sometimes great ideas. Some agencies treat them as “first dates” a way to see if clients and agencies can gel.
I don’t believe there is any particular science in winning them, but here are some tips that might help along the way.

Everything counts...

Finishing counts

In the midst of the pitch there are always few things that you kinda liked in the beginning, then dropped it, then revived it half an hour before presentation. Try to fight urges and not present those… bad comps & half baked ideas leave a bad taste in mouth. Yes it might be a small part of the presentation, but don't forget it stays with a client, they can come back to it over and over. When it comes to the final decision, every detail counts.

Medium counts

When you are presenting the story, digital innovation or product ideas, find a way to present them in their glory.
Storyboards are a great tool for PPM and shoots, as for the pitch presentations they are No 1 on the lame list. No. 2 on the same list are clickable site mockups, it is like real thing, not.
Sometimes it is better to create perception of how it feels, rather than seeing it in the middle of the presentation. Story, voice over, music, motion can give a whole new dimension. Create a case study, show what the bigger picture would look like.

Make prototypes when it makes sense. It is a completely different feeling when client has the app on the phone in his hand, then a board on the wall.There are many prototyping & presentation tools available, (see list bellow) bottom line is don't be lazy...
3D printers are available and they don’t take much time. Make real mockups give them to the clients as giveaways - they will be happy to show it off to their colleagues, friends family… they are human after all.

Performanace counts

Produce a show, not just a presentation. Sing & dance, wear a costume if you have to, do everything to take clients to your world, which is trust me much more fun then your or god forbid their meeting room. Dim the lights, paint the walls, make a video projection instead of a standard conference beam.
Bake a cake, don't bring generic cookies. Don't be stingy. They will appreciate it and more importantly remember it.

Choose your word wisely.

In Cannes a few years back, CP+B had an interesting presentation/workshop on winning pitches. They brought client with them, from Kraft if I remember right, and it was nice to hear how they see it. The story goes something like this.

When there is a pitch, agencies feel it is tough for them, working hard, days and nights... but for the client it is an equally challenging task. During the pitch presentation days they have to meet a bunch of agencies and hear loads of strategy, creative ideas, business bull... And apparently it gets to them, so from that perspective they do care about what you say, and how you say it.

So here are two key points I remember.
(very rough interpretation)

Say something interesting

When you are pitching, pitch big. They might not buy the idea, but they will buy your thinking.
This idea will change the world - are the words that immediately wake up clients from their slumber, their eyes are wide open and they are ready to listen.

Even if it doesn't change the world, at least you tried to bring something different to the table and you will stand out from the crowd. Sometimes even things that don't make much sense get stuck in a client’s mind. For sure it is two edged sword, but who dares wins... it’s your call really.

Don't talk too much about yourself.

Agencies sometimes try to create perceptions of great working relationships in the team, so they go on and on about, each other. The Account Director will kick of his presentation introducing the tam - "This is John, John has been Creative Director at
***** agency for the last 5 years, but I know John from the time we called him Johnny Rocket, we were best mates in high school, we had so much fun.. you remember Johnny...." - you get the point, casual, making sure the relationships are solid.

For client it is like - OMG will you just shut up already, I do not care about you, John, or even less about Johnny Rocket. Tell me about the ideas if you have any, what will they do for my brand, and God, please make this day end fast.

Plan things right

It is really difficult to plan a pitch, as resources working on the pitch might change depending on the workflow, but do your best. Make at least one person responsible for the whole thing. That same person needs to be the first person to accept the pitch and the last person to shake hands with the client before they leave. This one is quite obvious but it is important and more than often, ignored. There are great tools for managing projects like pitches where you might involve freelancers and resources outside of your agency. Trello is quite cool, Base Camp, pick your favorite.

I hope I got some basic things covered, do you think there are more important things to consider....

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