One of our long-time members called to say their ad agency lost their last three pitches. They asked Second Wind to investigate, so we sent them a query. Following are some insights that we think you should hear as well.
To be a winner in pitching new business, you must:
Do creative “all the way” or don’t do it at all. Throwing a passing idea into the conversation is just not useful. One, you should never give away ideas. Two, if you think it's good enough to mention, it should be good enough to develop and present.
Always make it clear that the President will serve and be integral to the account. Of course, the account executive is in the picture from the beginning. Gradually, the account executive steps into the foreground, and the President does a slow fade into the background. However, the President must always attend big meetings, “trouble” meetings, and those where the client contact’s boss is present. We call this executive-level attention.
Never underrate the competition. They are all out there doing great things. Bring your best ideas, people and positioning to every pitch.
Always make sure the prospect believes your agency is an expert in their industry. Work hard to BE that expert by reading the trades, keeping up on industry news, producing relevant content and attending industry trade shows and events.
Always try to establish some sort of personal connection with the people you are pitching. Clients do business with people they like—period!
Always do something during the pitch that separates you from the competition. If you ever sit in on a company’s selection process involving multiple agencies, you understand why. Most agencies present well. Many agencies hit the mark both strategically and creatively. You must show the prospect you are different. Instead of being just another great presenter (remember, all of your competitors are doing this), you have to separate your agency from the pack.
There is a fine line between presenting and WINNING.
Someone always wins (one way or another), so remember that your loss only means that you didn’t discover how to win this time.
Finally, it sometimes takes even more to be the winner in a pitch. Not every battle in life is a fair contest, so be prepared to fight unfairly at times. Work your connections to discover whether a pitch is “stacked” in favor of a particular agency.
Please consider this article as you prepare your next pitch. It is a shame to work as hard as you do only to lose. How do you explain coming back a loser to your employees… your spouse… your kids? It is far better to be a winner.
If you need help, call Second Wind. We will be glad to advise you further.