Why You Suck at Pitching
Pitching is not a science, it is also, most definitely, not an art. I’ve lost pitches for which we spent two weeks developing a crazy prototype while the top strategists at the agency came up with perfect plans; I’ve also won pitches which we walked into with no comps or art to show.
So what’s the difference between a winning and a losing pitch? It’s clearly not the amount of time or resources you throw at it. Purists will say it’s about the right team coming in with the right idea at the exact right time, but I don’t believe it’s that either. I can say that, much to my shock, we’ve won pitches we had no business attending in the first place. It’s not about answering the brief to perfection. So what is it about? It’s all about looking past the brief, and understanding what issues the client is facing.
Clients are not dumb, but they are certainly biased and, sometimes, very blind to what’s wrong within their business. But if they are willing to spend money on any new advertising campaign or engagement, you can bet it’s because they know something isn’t right. Nevertheless, very rarely have I seen a client correctly identify the correct solution to fix the issues they’re facing (that’s where that bias comes in).
The brief might state they need a new social campaign to target millennials. However, the best and most expensive social campaign will not fix their underlying issues. Why do they say they want a new social campaign? Is there reasoning correct? Is a social campaign the best way to address the underlying issue? Maybe the problem they have is that people aren’t engaging with them on their social channels, but the correct solution is a re-focus on what their brand is and not a new campaign based on a brand that isn’t working.
Ask yourself how you can actually help their business, not how you can best answer the brief. Spend more time in the discovery and strategy phase, as opposed to just burning production hours on multiple options in the hopes the client will buy into one.
The winning pitch that day won’t be the one with the flashy designs (although those do help when you’re on the right track), but the pitch that shows you understand what the client’s problem truly is, and how to best help them overcome it.
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