Thursday, December 20, 2012

What I learned sitting on the client side pitch team

I had the pleasure of sitting on the client side of a big pitch this year. Fascinating. I wish I'd done it years ago as it gave me a birds eye view on the process and let me really see what clients go through. Anyhow, I collected some thoughts over the process and thought I'd share. I don't think any of these refer to anyone in particular, so hopefully no-one will get bent out of shape - it's more of a general set of observations. If you are bent out of shape, tough, this is a blog! Besides, I think we've all done most of these at one point or another. Enjoy.

Here goes, in no particular order.

1. "Bob Smith says hi!" isn't convincing as a post pitch moment of connection.

2. Memorability vs. brevity - you need to think about where you present in the order of agencies and adjust accordingly (go first, be VERY memorable, go last be VERY brief because we're bored already).

3. Even if you think our brief sucks, we don't want to hear your +/- 10% improvement, just suck it up and move on.

4. We have no idea what you mean by your proprietary tools.

5. We like that you're proud of your work, but don't present it like you've just invented electricity or split the atom.

6. Listening to pitches is easier than writing them.

7. We make fun of you a lot more than you make fun of us (and we get to do it while you're presenting).

8. You're not the only ones who decide if people suck in the first 5 minutes.

9. Spit it out man..enough with the set up.

10. Spend a whole lot more time prepping your Q&A - think presidential debate!

11. We know you spoke to consumers, everyone does, just try not to make it so obvious they all happen to work in your office.

12. Now that everyone does a manifesto video, maybe tone down the dramatic setup - we all have iMovie and a camera phone.

13. There's so many new sexy things to talk about, but how about not forgetting 'asking for the business' (which I always find a bit of a cringe) and maybe explaining what you'd do in the first 90 days.

14. Facebook and Twitter isn't a digital strategy.

15. If you're going to wear something culturally connected to the country, don't button it up over your shirt and tie.

16. Don't welcome people back when they come back from the bathroom - there's a chance they just threw up and feel very self conscious (I nearly did on the last day courtesy of a very odd lunch).

17. Be more flexible, if the client is flagging/dying, do what YOU TELL US, bend with the process and listen to your consumer (US). Step it up!

18. Cutesky still works - pitch drama is far too under-used in an increasingly digital world.

19. Leave behinds never get read, BUT, they do make an impression - go big, but go light (size/impact over content).

20. Spend 1% of your thinking trying to incentivize clients to close their FKIN laptops. Gameify the mother! Make it fun and/or a stigma - use your audience to police their colleagues. Same goes for leaving the room for calls and bathroom breaks.

21. Follow up with a 1 page summary of your approach - that way, 10 pitches later when they are struggling to evaluate a presentation they can barely remember they have a 'Cliff Notes' of your work to refer to.

22. Be original - imagine you saw your idea for the first time and think "is this worthy?"

23. Do your homework. If there's a risk that your entire idea is potentially floored, dump it. Don't rely on being able to fend off objections in the 5 min Q+A, it's over, walk away.

24. Stay awake and try to stay off your phones.

25. If you're audience is losing the will to live, think on your feet. Stop. Confront. Change the conversation. What have you got to lose? You were already dead. Change the presentation into an intervention! Who knows, you might make it in as an outlier/a curiosity!

26. Be careful who you’re snippy to in the company cafe checkout queue before the pitch they might be a key decision maker!

27. Tell me much less about what you know about what I already know and tell me lots more about what you know that I don’t.

28.Stop ticking boxes - “we’ve done our homework” - we presume that you’ve got this far by being relatively thorough.

29. Remember many in the room potentially aren't marketing people, so target your pitch to your 11yr old niece - make it understandable and cut the jargon.

30. Start with a non advertising idea and certainly not with a 34 frame storyboard :30 spot.

31. Never, even if you don’t believe it, open with a :60 TV spot. Start with the edgiest “street art” idea and move backwards!

32. Try to de-define your work and position EVERYTHING as multi purposeful content. Everything somehow has to work everywhere.

33. Know the river - ideally know who to give the bound book to before you walk in the room and be careful who you ask for advice - i.e. don’t give it to the oldest man in a tie when it’s the youngest woman in a dress who’s the marketing director.

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