5 lessons we learned from pitches
When you’re invited to pitch on an account, it’s like being asked out on a date. Bonus points if it’s a date with that really gorgeous and unattainable person that you’ve long had your eye on. So, it’s normal then to have all the customary pre-date jitters. Much like preparing for pitches.
There’s the tentative nervousness. Will they like me? (Our work).
There’s indecision. Should I wear this? (Should we go with Creative Execution 1 or Version 129781?)
Still, we love the process. It’s the time to brag a little, show our skills and dazzle with our ideas. Which is not to say that there isn’t room for error. Because there is. Lots. But on the whole, pitch processes are fertile ground for learning – and hopefully using those lessons to do better the next time around.
Lesson: last-minute is (only) for rock stars
Sure it’s edgy and the epitome of creative coolness to rock up the day of the pitch and fly on a wing and a prayer, but we’ve found that a touch of irreverence backed by actual research and insight is the winning formula. Know what you’re talking about, who you’re talking to and spend real time sifting through the findings to hit pay dirt. Couple that with a bit of showmanship and you’re good.
Lesson: back up – and then back up again
We’ve all been there. Masses of work lost just when Eskom decides to have a petty moment. Scrambling to recreate what was surely the most beautiful PowerPoint presentation the world would have ever seen. And not getting even close. Save constantly and everywhere. If 10 people are working on the pitch, save that piece of work on 10 separate machines. Thank us later.
Lesson: no death by PowerPoint
It’s a bit of a necessary evil and all the information needs to live somewhere. But there’s no call for you to laboriously trundle through each and every single sentence, bullet point and fine print. That’s what the leave-behind documents are for. The actual presentation is your guide, not a book that needs to be read word for word to a room full of people.
Lesson: keep the fancy patter to a minimum
Yes we can dazzle them with our corporate speak and cool marketing buzzwords (see marketing buzzwords article for no-no’s) but when your lingo is overtaking your actual message, it’s time to reign it in. The basics always apply: keep it simple, stupid.
Lesson: jokes are for professional comedians
Naturally, we’re all hilarious and our friends beg us to do stand-up… maybe, we think. But like singing, (unless you’re Beyoncé), it’s best to serenade just your besties and family with your witticisms. Humour is a) hard and b) subjective. What’s funny in the office might be greeted by stony faces in a boardroom. If a natural opportunity to crack a joke appears… operative word natural, by all means, make one. But remember, you’re there pitching for work, not auditioning to be Trevor Noah’s sidekick.
Bonus lessons: make sure your hardware works, your laptop is charged and you arrive on time! A team rushing in late and then messing around with cables and wires? That’s just bad marketing all round…