There’s nothing more frustrating than a bad pitch, both for the client that has to endure it, and the agency that sulks home with its tail between its legs. Everyone seems to have an opinion about the principles of pitching, and whether you love or loathe the process, it’s an inevitable part of business. So how do you make the most of the presentation, and avoid the downfalls of the dreaded pitch?
Since the key to any successful relationship is compromise, we’ve put together lists of advice for both sides of the divide, advising clients and agencies on how to perfect the pitch whilst keeping the other party happy.
As a client, you should…
Narrow it down
Agencies don’t want to be one of many. They don’t even want to be one of several. Have a shortlist of no more than three agencies, because any more signals you’re probably not sure what you want. In which case, you’re not ready to be a running a pitch.
Don’t be stingy
A pitch is only as good as the proposal. A stingy brief equals a terrible pitch, so you should be as detailed as possible, and dedicate more than just an hour or so. Don’t be mean when it comes to deadlines, either, and give them more than a week to work on it. Otherwise it’ll be rubbish, and that’ll be of no benefit to anyone.
Agencies ask a lot of questions. Some of them will be ingenious, perceptive and consequential. Others will be daft. Either way, every question deserves an answer. If they put forward a corker, don’t share it with other agencies to level the playing field. People should not be punished for their perspicacity, after all.
They don’t expect a decision to be made in minutes, but waiting six weeks for an answer is a bit excessive. You should aim to catch your chosen agency at the right time, when the team will still be geared up about the pitch. Otherwise, your collaboration will begin at a lukewarm level, and lost enthusiasm is difficult to find.
Be honest. Brutally honest
If they’re fantastic, tell them. If there’s anything they need to improve on, tell them. If they suck, TELL THEM. In business, though the truth may hurt, it is essential to future successes. Constructive criticism helps everyone learn from their mistakes and improve, so don’t feel bad about telling someone they’re substandard.
As an agency, you should…
The final pitch is not the big show. Nowadays, the win begins well before the pitch, so whip your new business team into shape. Nurturing early relationships will work in your favour when it gets close to the end. When it comes to the pitch, get together a diverse team of key people who will all bring something to the table.
Listen and learn
It’s simple really: use your ears and eyes before opening your mouth. By getting to know the client, a successful agency will understand their industry, their market environment, their customers, and their competitors. One of the biggest barriers with agencies is them actually understanding a business, because they can’t be bothered to learn about it.
Go easy on the credentials
Don’t bore the client with the tedious credential slides, and avoid cringe-inducing cred-terminology. Time is precious, so there’s no point in spending thirty minutes relaying what everybody already knows. A good pitch will cut the crap, and be straightforward, succinct and sincere.
Stand out from the crowd
Clients want fresh ideas and new ways of doing things. You should draw attention to your distinctions, highlight your quirks, and make it clear that you’re different to the rest. Think about bringing something to the table that no other agency can replicate, and that adds real value to the project.
What are your tips for the pitching process? Tweet us @weareboutiqueuk and let us know!