How to win a Pitch

Was lucky enough to here there legendary planner Jon Steele present the other night. He spoke about his experience on global pitches and some key learnings he’s amassed over the years.  What I like about Jon, is like all good planners, he simplifies the complex and is a great storyteller.

Here’s the topline:

  • Pitch only what you want. Steve Jobs said focus is being able to say no
  • Be yourself- if your client buys into what you’re not, you’ll have to spend the whole time pretending. Client has to be right for agency’s culture and goals.
  • One pitch at a time (don’t split your A team)
  • Have a clear and strong opinion and POV and stick to them (don’t present more than one concept)
  • Core team should be small
  • Give total responsibility to the team- senior mgt, either you’re part of the pitch process all the way or stay out; pitches are lost bec of last minute changes and senior mgt “flights of fancy”
  • Involve the entire agency
  • One idea- one story, one ending not alternative endings (looks like you haven’t fully thought of the idea)
  • Agree idea early
  • Focus on timing should be a rule of 3rds (ie if you have 3 weeks- 1 week to commit to the idea, 1 week to blow out idea in every angle, 1 week on how best to present this- planning and rehearsing)
  • Don’t seek perfection- focus on winning vs getting it perfect. Anecdote shared: Potential client asked: Is this the best idea you could have presented, MD goes: Is your wife the best woman you could have married?
  • Want it more than others and engage those who want it
  • Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse
  • Have principles- not just what clients want. They don’t necessarily know what is the best solution
  • Finally, drink only good wine and enjoy.

Several of these themes were covered in his book ‘The Perfect Pitch’, but I thought I’d share what i took out of his speech. Great job Jon.

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