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How to win new customers and clients. How to prepare properly for pitches.

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  4. 4. Inbound • They know roughly who you are – or do they? • Need to establish how much they know • Take nothing for granted • What stage are they at in their search for an agency? • What is their style like? • What channel did they use to get in touch? • What is the best channel through which to respond? • How did they hear of the agency? • Can you trace that trail back and piece other interesting information together?
  5. 5. Outbound • The onus is on you to have something to say • What exactly are you going to say? • Rehearse your approach first • Why should they listen to you? • Why should they take a meeting? • Do you really know anything about them? • What is an issue for them at the moment? • Be able to articulate yourself within thirty seconds
  7. 7. Inbound • Are they well known and respected? • Are they viable? • Do they have a history of commissioning good work? • Are they time wasters? • Are you basing your opinion on real information or just hearsay? • Get informed before you recommend a course of action or decide on one
  8. 8. Outbound • Do the desk research first • Supplement the facts with qualitative detail – ring round to ask for opinion • Match the potential opportunity to agency experience – what is the common ground? • What do you do if there honestly isn’t much? • Don’t get carried away and fool yourself that there is an opportunity when there isn’t
  9. 9. Deciding whether to proceed • Remember, at this stage, we are deciding whether to meet and discuss, not whether to pitch • Inspired and informed questions are as interesting to clients as statements about the agency • Discuss with colleagues • Take a little time, if you have that luxury. • The overnight test is desirable for a more balanced response
  11. 11. Analysis checklist Start with the sector • Does it suit the agency? • Do we know it? • Could we get to know it? • How quickly? Look at the competition • Is this the best brand in the category or can we do better?
  12. 12. Analysis checklist Scrutinise the budget • What have they spent over the last few years? • Is that viable? Visibility • Does this client or project have good potential for the agency? • Will people enjoy working on it? • Could it make an excellent case history? • Does it have the potential to win an award?
  13. 13. Analysis checklist Look at their people • Are they our style? • Would we get on well? • What are their backgrounds? Look at our people • Will we gel with the above? • Will our CVs do the trick?
  15. 15. Criteria • All new business prospects should be screened for three criteria – good work, viability, and fun. • Good work could mean highly creative, or brand new to the industry, or award winning, or pioneering, or a new subject matter for the agency, or an area that the agency knows a lot about. • Viable means profit making. • Fun means everybody wants to work on it, or somebody specific does.
  16. 16. The Golden Triangle VIABL E GOOD WORK FUN  If you can tick two out of three of these criteria, the business is worth having.  If you can tick all three, then you really want it.
  18. 18. Preparation • How long have you got? • Cut your cloth according to timescale • Write the plan now, and stick to it • Allocate tasks: writers, creators, presenters, chasers, advisers • Remember, the pitch leader does not have to be the most senior person • Do we know a lot about this already, or do we need significant fact-finding? • What do we know? • What don’t we know?
  19. 19. Preparation • Do we need research? • Do we need outside help? • What is the team? • What are the logistics? • Plan the time • Plan the money • Plan the resource
  20. 20. Preparation • Assemble the relevant people in the first 24 hours • Get a broad direction early on • Write the logic chain • Keep checking the logic chain • What is their attitude to risk? • What is the core of any product differentiation they may have?
  21. 21. The Pitch Deadline • Human nature to delay, but don’t • Convene decision makers in first 24 hrs • Set direction, brief experts, course correct if necessary
  22. 22. The Bravery Scale • How adventurous is company culture? • What standards are expected? • How brave should targets be? • Remind when you present/they reject
  24. 24. Warming up prospects • Draw up a proper contact strategy • What will you communicate to whom, and how often, before the day? • Who are the people who will be making the decision? • Are there others that you haven’t been told about? • How can you find out about them? • What can you do to promote the agency before the day? • Convey enthusiasm, without over-pestering
  25. 25. Warming up prospects • What questions do you have? Get the balance right • Remember that the level of intelligence conveyed in your questions says a lot about the agency’s quality. Do not leave questions to the last minute and collect them as a random selection • What is the culture of the prospect like? • Will they appreciate hospitality or proof of rigorous process? • Who knows who? Can you capitalise on a friendship or acquaintance?
  26. 26. Warming up prospects • Keep checking back on the contact strategy – are you actually doing it, or are you off course? • Try asking the prospect open-ended questions such as How are we doing? • Consider offering references so that the client can call other clients and discover what it will be like working with your agency • Better still, pretend you have already won the account and create the conditions in which they can tell what it will be like working with you, because they effectively already are
  28. 28. Getting the tone right • What is the agency’s tone or culture? • What is the prospect’s tone or culture? • Are they compatible? Be honest. • If there are significant differences, what steps can you take to make the prospective relationship more successful? • Beware overclaim – they have heard it all before • Work out what is helpful and appealing about the way the agency does things, and capitalise on that • Beware over-pestering – being keen is good, being a pain in the neck isn’t
  29. 29. Getting the tone right • Be hungry for the business, but do not stray into looking desperate • Beware of sycophancy – they know that you want the business, or else you wouldn’t be pitching • Be candid if you disagree with them or have different opinions. If they had all the answers, they wouldn’t be looking for a new agency. • Remember, you are paid for your opinions and advice, as individuals, and collectively.
  30. 30. Getting the tone right • Appreciate the value of calmness and maturity – harness an approach that conveys good organisation, and lots of experience • Don’t panic and generate inappropriate reactions and behaviour in the agency that could jeopardise the pitch outcome • Make sure that it appears at all times that the agency knows what it is doing. If this is not true, talk to the people that matter and fix it quickly
  31. 31. 8. THE TEAM
  32. 32. The Team • What is it? • The importance of casting • Allocate tasks: writers, creators, presenters, chasers, advisers • Appropriate marking is essential • Find out who is coming from their side and match their needs accordingly • Depth of resource: demonstrate it, but don’t confuse it with who should be in the room on the day
  33. 33. The Team • Use imaginative ideas to show them the team who will work on the business. Try to get all of this out of the way before the day • Consider a video or CD of all the characters, including the backroom staff • Don’t pack the room with people who won’t say anything • Don’t confuse people who are great at client service with great presenters. The former won’t win the business, and the latter won’t keep it. • Keep a close eye on viability. Don’t go mob-handed or propose a team that will automatically lose the
  34. 34. The Team • Who to field and when: think carefully about timing in the run up and on the day. Play in the right people at the right time. • Avoid duplication of effort. Do not have scores of people rushing about chasing the same ball like kids playing football in the playground. • If the team is not working, and you have time, change it. • Pay attention to client comments about the team before the day. Ask open-ended questions. • Don’t pick the nearest people or those who happen not to be busy or on holiday. Give it really careful thought and match the people to the task based on
  35. 35. 9. CREDENTIALS
  36. 36. Credentials • Look very carefully at the agency’s credentials and ask yourself a number of questions: • Has the prospect seen all this already? In which case, they should play no part on the day of the pitch – check. • How interesting are they? Freshen them up every time. • How appropriate are they? Don’t just cut and paste from a previous effort – the issues will always be different, so the points relating to the agency and their business will always be slightly different. • Compare with your competitors. Do you know what
  37. 37. Credentials • Consider drawing up criteria that the prospect can use for appointing an agency, and highlight your rivals’ deficiencies by implication (but never by name). • Delivery before the day. If they really do require credentials as part of the pitch, send them beforehand saying that you want to devote as much time as possible on the day to discussing their business, not yours. • Remember that talking about their business is the main point. You will rarely be criticised for this.
  38. 38. Credentials • Alternatively, select the main points from your credentials (preferably no more than six), and weave them in to your pitch. • For example, choose specific moments to highlight your strengths in a sector, international areas, a case history, resource, and so on, as part of the strategic story that you are telling.
  39. 39. 10. THE PRESENTATION
  40. 40. The presentation • Structuring this is a whole separate presentation from me, but do consider: • The brief • Keeping it as simple as possible • Suitable brainstorming techniques
  41. 41. A couple of systems that work
  42. 42. I.S.S.U.E. PITCH SYSTEM ISSUE: What’s the big issue? What problem needs solving? First instincts? SOLVE: How can we solve it? Can it be solved? Can we fix it, or just improve it? STATISTICS: What’s it worth? Where’s the evidence? What proof is unique to us? UNIFYING THEME: What ties all this together? What’s the central idea? Pitch on a postcard? EMOTION: Why should they like us? What makes us different from the other agencies? Who is connected to whom?
  43. 43. ESTABLISHING THE NEED How the thought process becomes a brief (written or on the hoof in a meeting) STATED: What they said they wanted ("I want a mail pack”) HIDDEN: What you think they actually need (Sales of x, by whatever method). Now expand it into something the agency is good at IMPLIED: Any vague stuff that has also been mentioned which may be relevant. ("I was a bit disappointed with the last one”) TRUE: Distillation of all the above (the brief). Re-express the task and work out how to get them to agree
  44. 44. The Market Map • Win the business with one diagram • Plot any market • Encapsulate strategy visually • Try multiple variables • Imply direction of travel and success
  45. 45. The Whittling Wedge • Tell an engaging strategic story • Start broad, then reduce • Consider, then reject • Exclude competitor proposals • Recommend with authority
  46. 46. Meeting preparation thoughts
  47. 47. A decent brief? • To achieve what? • Why? • Who is this aimed at? • Statement: our objective • Question: how do we…?
  48. 48. The Right People? • Optimum number = 4 • Less = more ideas • Selective guest list • High quality participants • No substitutes
  49. 49. A Third Place? • Not office, not home • Inspiring setting • High ceilings, natural light • Fresh air • On the move?
  50. 50. Got The Right Time? • Look at month, week, day • Optimum time of day • Avoid pressure times • Avoid dead zones • Look at duration
  51. 51. For How Long? • Shorter is better • 5 minutes? 30 minutes? • Boredom and attention • Energy and productivity • Breaks and pacing
  52. 52. The Right Method? • You need one • Facts and data • Management views • Staff views • Synthesis = direction
  53. 53. The Right Stimulus? • Prepared in advance • Plenty of material to spare • Interventions • Breaks • Exercises and application
  54. 54. The Rules Of Engagement • Turn up • Listen productively • Talk succinctly • No show-offs or cynics • No jargon
  55. 55. YOU’VE WON! NOW WHAT?
  56. 56. The Motivational Dip • Honeymoon period always fun • It never lasts • Listen and learn phase vital • Ends in success or tears • Can almost always be predicted
  57. 57. What if the people are negative? • Use Three Good Three Bad • Draw out negatives first • 3 worst and 3 best things • Find common ground • Offset bad with good • Time limit & move on
  58. 58. What if our ideas are too random? • Use Think Inside The Box • Map out constraints • Only work within those • Bounded subject area • Reject everything irrelevant • Think Apollo 13
  59. 59. What if our perspective is too narrow? • Use Eyes Of Experts • Choose experts in advance • Or get attendees to do it • View brief through the eyes of different experts • How would they do it? • Consider those unrelated to category
  60. 60. What if everyone in our market does the same thing? • Use Category Stealing • Identify other categories (not your own) • Define characteristics • Name brands • Identify approaches • Apply to your brief
  61. 61. What if we have too little to go on? • Use What’s Hot? • Examine current trends • Major events coming up • Look at celebrities & issues • Attach your issue to them • Don’t force fit
  62. 62. @kevinduncan