As an agency (of whatever description, from PR to SEO), pitches are make or break. Win the pitch and its happy days. Lose the pitch and you’re back to square one with nothing to show for hours of work, often at short notice, and a whole load of stress.
A lot of agencies are still delivering pitches in the same way they were 5 or even 10 years ago. A deck of slides, probably PowerPoint. Maybe Keynote if you’re feeling adventurous. Three or four team members lined up to deliver said deck – one senior person (who the prospective client knows they’ll never see again), a couple of ‘creatives’ and someone who you know is good at presenting to hold it all together. Your creds. Your understanding of the brief. Some vague promises about results.
A client I worked with recently to help them select an agency bemoaned the stale approaches. “They all come in and say they’re ‘creative’ and ‘forward thinking’ then deliver something that proves they’re anything but,” they said.
I’m in the unusual position of also acting as a pitch and presentation coach for agencies preparing to pitch, so see this from both sides. Many agencies throw all their creativity at the clients – but rarely at themselves. Their pitches become about what they’re saying and not about HOW they’re saying – or illustrating – it. So, no matter how good the content, they feel dull and dated.
There ARE other ways to format a pitch. If you claim to be a creative agency, why not find creative new ways to pitch? When what you’re offering is likely to be quite similar to the offer from those you’re pitching against, it makes sense to help yourselves stand out by doing something different to your competitors. There are lots of ways of doing things differently.
When I’ve been helping clients select an agency, the decision is as much (if not more) based on what it’ll be like to work with this or that agency team than it is based on the creative ideas or vaguely promised results in the pitch (or the price, quite frankly). Clients want to see a point of difference; fresh new approaches and a team that doesn’t just bore them with the same pitch (and often pretty much the same slide deck) as they were using 1, 5 or 10 years ago.
Don’t be that agency.