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The first rule of Pitch Club

The first rule of Pitch Club

The first rule of Pitch Club is that you most definitely DO want potential clients to talk about your presentation afterwards.

And they’re more likely to do so if they can actually remember what you said.

We’ve all been there.

You attend a presentation.

Someone who didn’t attend asks you to paraphrase later the same day.

And you can’t.

Or at best you struggle to piece it all back together.

Crystal clarity and an unmissable straight-line narrative thread go a long way towards winning pitches.

Not only do they make you more memorable, but the process of stripping things back, of straightening out the chicanes and removing interesting but unnecessary tangents actually invests your presentation with a much greater sense of conviction.

And that sense of conviction, allied with your clarity, only adds to your memorability.

One of the best pieces of training I ever had was when I blagged my way onto the judging panel for the media agency pitch process that one of my clients was conducting.

This story would be better if I could name names but I’d better not, even though with the passing of time I don’t think I’d be betraying any commercial confidences.

The pitch brief asked for media strategies on two brands in the client’s portfolio. Two brands with quite different issues.

It was a thorough brief and a fair process in terms of access to the client and opportunity to ask questions etc.

My abiding memory of three out of the four pitch presentations is the sheer level of work that had gone into them. The kitchen sink had been well and truly chucked. The thoroughness of the research and the quality of the presentation materials, including video content, were impressive.

My abiding memory of the fourth pitch is what they said.

They structured the presentation as a boxing card.

“Bout 1” for Brand X was billed as Boys versus Girls.

They framed the media planning issue as a straight decision of prioritising one gender over another.

“Bout 2” for Brand Y was billed as Safe versus Dangerous.

Brand Y had a reputation for high profile, ‘out there’, risky creative work. And agency 4 contended that this ‘dangerous’ creative work had historically run in very ‘safe’ places.

Agency 4 stripped their presentation back to ask these two questions and then emphatically answered them. No diversions. No temptation to pad things out with evidence of effort, unless it added to the narrative. Or if there was temptation it had been resisted.

Agency 4 won the pitch by a country mile. Less than half an hour after the other presentations we genuinely struggled to agree as a group on what had actually been recommended.

And, from memory, I don’t think the client actually agreed with Agency 4’s recommendation on one of the briefs.

But they’d seen enough to know that they wanted that team on their side.

And that’s the second rule of Pitch Club.

The second rule of Pitch Club is to remember what the client is looking to buy.

The pitch brief may ask you to present ideas, but the client is looking to buy an agency.

But that’s another blog post.

What would be your first rule of Pitch Club?

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