10 Steps to The Perfect New Business Pitch

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Every agency has its own idea of the perfect new business pitch. Here’s mine in ten steps:

1. Know your capabilities. While this seems obvious, some people—through desperation or delusion—will go after any new business, whether they’re suited for it or not. (EX: “We’re going after Nike.” “Do you have any footwear experience?” “Well, not per se. We did do a series of ads about diabetic foot wounds, though.”)

2. Know Your Prospect. What’s the history of the company? What’s the history of their marketing? Do you fully understand their product or service? Why are they looking for an agency? More importantly, why the heck are they considering you?

3. Assemble Your Team. Let’s say your agency has 200+ people. Your job is to identify who has the skills and/or knowledge to add value to your presentation and pick the fewest possible to attend. So, your agency only has ten people? Take the ones who own a suit.

4. Define your objectives. You’ll need to know the parameters of the presentation (length, venue, access to power/wireless, etc.) Then, you need to craft your presentation to deliver the most bang within those parameters. You won’t have time to discuss media, strategy, branding and public relations, while also showing thirty pieces of creative, opening the floor to questions and allowing your boss, who loves to stray off topic and tell stories about himself/herself, to say more than “hello.”

5. Research. Do some.

6. The Strategic Proposal. If the RFP states that the client wants someone to create a series of TV spots targeting adults over 65 who wear dentures, and that they’ll provide the media, you probably don’t need one. If you do, be sure the person who writes it knows what a strategy is. (EX: “I thought we’d just take boxes of chocolates wrapped in bows for everyone,” isn’t a strategy.)

7. The Creative. Be sure it comes out of the strategy. Don’t be afraid to do something different from where the brand has been before, as this can often win the day. If it’s really humorous or pushes the boundaries, don’t let your account execs see it before presentation day.

8. The Rehearsal. Know what every player is going to say and when. Don’t blow it off.

9. Presentation Day. Be professional and friendly in equal amounts. Be confidant. Be ready to answer questions. Laugh at their jokes. Bring hand sanitizer.

10. The Clencher. No matter how well prepared you are or how well you think the presentation went, something you didn’t expect will clench it. (EX: “Oh, you’re a hockey fan,” is a good reaction. “You guys did a great job, can’t wait to work with you,” means they’ve already made up their minds, and it isn’t you.)

That’s the perfect pitch on paper. In reality, the perfect pitch can’t be planned. It goes something like this. “Hi, I saw your website and would like you to help us expand our 400-store franchise into a 4,000-store franchise. Interested?”

So, basically, be sure someone’s around to answer the phone.

– John Graham, Copy Director @ Creative Dimensions