The receptionists ignored them, cigarette butts were stubbed on the floor and bins resembled landfill sites.
After being kept waiting for 25 minutes, and just as they were about to turn heel, the client was met with by the agency team who let them know this is how most of their customers experienced the brand. If this didn't change, they wouldn't have a business let alone their jobs. Come this way and let's show you how we'll change that.
Pitches throw a mirror up to the client behaviours, the truth of the brand and a whole load of other stuff that the ego despises. It can feel complex, scary and intense for clients, but one simple truth remains. And it’s in this simple truth that winning pitches lies.
Why? Because we shift the focus from ‘what we’re about (Agency) ’ to ‘what you’re about (Client)’.
Deeper than that - when we say ‘you', we don’t mean the client’s business. We mean the client themselves.
Tomasz Tunguz wrote a brilliant article for the startup community which delivered a proper mind f*ck of a takeout - anyone pitching is in the business of selling promotions. Not selling beans at half price, but helping their immediate client get promoted. After all, from a human psyche level, that’s all that matters.
As such, we enforce anyone pitching to shift their focus. Don’t look in the mirror and narcissistically believe the client cares about your latest tools, awards or showreel. Look behind the mirror and ask yourself what the client who is briefing you is actually asking for themselves when you read the brief.
Briefs should be beautifully objective pieces of work that detail requirements, commercial plans, expectations and outputs. But, because they’re written or approved by humans, they are chock full of disguised personal needs, individual expectations and real fears.
And the way to win is to get under the skin of what’s really behind the pitch, what is the client actually asking and how does that play out if you win. In other words, how can you help deliver their fundamental needs.
But they won’t be easy to spot immediately.
In our sessions, we unblock the old way of thinking about the brief and start digging into what those things are.
We distill them.
We get human.
We stop looking at the brief as a brief but as a map of deep human desires.
Once we’ve done that, we unlock ways in the process we will deliver against them and we create a simple, unifying proposition for the pitch.
And we distill this proposition into a short snappy, memorable phrase.
We roll it out. It becomes the rallying cry, the ‘north star’; it's the thing that all work, thinking and outputs are judged against. If it doesn’t deliver, we don’t do it. It’s ruthless but so are pitches. It’s the language that you use, it’s what the client buys into, it’s what sets the tone for your relationship.
The GB rowing team had a simple phrase that defined the Olympic gold winning team in the 90s. They asked this question of every decision they made:
"Will it make the boat go faster?"
When you can distill your proposition into something so clear and precise, you’re onto a winner.