Against the great revelation Hallam
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It’s time to change the old ways and create pitch presentations like a magic show.

This is one of those posts that I’m almost embarrassed to write, because the realization of where I’ve committed so many times before has occurred to me. And now I’m backing down slightly from all those times I’ve made the same mistake over and over again. Because, I thought, that’s how it’s done.

In my defense, it was by no means only me who made this mistake – it is something that has been considered the standard approach at most, if not all, of the agencies I have worked in before, and I believe through many other agencies across the marketing and advertising industry.

So what is this huge misstep?

The great revelation

It’s that feeling of an agency being briefed, and after a quick chat with a client to present some initial challenges and clarify a few points, they disappear under the radar and burn the midnight oil to compile what they think. be the solution to the problem at hand, before presenting it fully formed and completed by imaginary jazz hands.

It’s almost as if there is merit in guessing what the customer is looking for, and asking too many questions or even – horror of shock – telling the customer what you’re going to talk to them about in the pitch is fundamentally against the rules. commitment, and completely frowned upon.

U.S. against them

Thanks to the legacy of the Mad Men era, when contacting your customers was presumably much more difficult, arguments were defined as “us” versus “them”. The idea was to defeat them with your ideas and strategy until they had no choice but to award you the contract.

I have seen pitch teams leave the office like soldiers going into battle and coming back either presuming wounded or victorious hours later.

The field debriefing would go into the intricate details of how the client responded to each idea or tactic. Often times, the biggest clients were notorious for giving nothing thanks to training they were all supposed to attend that taught them how to keep a face of poker, lest they be favorable to one client or another.

These crooked tenders are the worst offenders: a rigid set of rules about your permitted customer contact, all in the interest of fairness, but surely against the best interests of performance.

I know I’m not the first person, or even the 10,000th, to stumble upon this achievement (I’m not in sales so don’t force myself too much if you’ve been working like this since 1997). But I think too many agencies, and critically too many clients, still work with this mindset, when a policy of conversation, collaboration, and discussion is the answer to everyone’s problems.

New mantra

In fact, it was our consultant Ben Potter who recently drove this house to me. “An argument or a proposal should only confirm what you have already discussed. It seems so obvious when you say it like that.

And for the new me, this simple mantra should cover all facets of a pitch: strategy, tactics, creativity, budgets – if something is going to surprise a customer, it’s worth talking about it up front. Because otherwise that left-field approach, huge cost, or the controversy surrounding this creation will only distract from the rest of what you’re talking about. Instead, you can test the water and get your client to buy into management / budget / messaging before the time is right.

Of course, you can still fight, but fight alongside your client, not against them.

If you would like to discuss it further, please do not hesitate to contact us.


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