Invited to Pitch? 5 Must-Dos To Win

October 10, 2017 | Lorraine Stewart

Spooked by the latest New Business Pitch?

Five wickedly smart things Advertising Agencies should do Right Now.

Most of my posts wax a bit philosophical. This one is the opposite. It provides practical, tactical and dare I say, prescriptive agency new business development advice. It also reflects the degree of urgency many creative, media and digital advertising agencies can feel when after laying the grueling groundwork, a new client opportunity presents itself and they are invited to pitch. Can I hear a halleluiah?

Whether the new business lead comes from an agency search consultancy like ROJEK, an RFP from Procurement or a referral from a friend, after being invited to pitch smart agency leaders show no fear as they mobilize their troops to respond.

Here are five key actions that produce will more treats than tricks stop and can change the outcome of the agency selection process in your favor:

“What are you supposed to be, honey?”

  1. Who are you? Check your online presence, asap.
    • Check your current agency website; take away visual content that is off brand, dated or reflects old model thinking.
    • Check your team’s LinkedIn profiles; update titles, content and contact info to serve your interests. Update your Company page too.
    • Check Glassdoor or other sites for overtly negative reviews; take corrective action.
    • Check Twitter, You Tube and other social media channels to see what others see.

Why? Client decision-makers seeking new agencies do their homework on ad agencies and people online. Even after sending an RFP or requesting a meeting with you, others within the company organization will be checking you out, forming early opinions. At the end of the day, prospects are curious, and People hire People to work with them.

Have No Fear

  1. Brainstorm Questions to Ask the Prospect:
    • What do we need to know about this opportunity to prepare our best response?
    • Who is the key decision-maker; what selection criteria will s/he/they will use to evaluate agencies?
    • What is the scope and available budget for the assignment?
    • Why did the client prospect reach out to us? What are they hoping to achieve?

Why? Learning the answers to these questions when invited to pitch puts any agency in a position to answer the tough questions they need to ask internally: Not Can we do this? but Will we be competitive pursuing this opportunity? What will it take to win? Do we want to?

Appreciate that any RFP or inquiry has been extended to multiple, like-kind agencies in market. Knowing your competitive advantage from the outset improves the quality of your RFP response and prospect interaction to come.

Goosebumps!

  1. Video is the agency selling tool that delivers the feels!
    • Edit or update the video introduction to the agency.
    • Use video to prepare/deliver relevant case histories.
    • Update the agency presence YouTube/Vimeo with recent work.
    • Use video to showcase the talent, humanity and vibe of your agency culture.
    • For high impact presentations, customize video to the prospect /opportunity.
    • Use links for online presentation of video content, portals for prospect communication.

Why? Your agency competitors have upped their game. After being invited to pitch, a video formats make it easy for busy clients to watch information vs read it. It also reveals creativity in action.  The Video format is most effective as an add to content that is provided in person, in presentations and with written documents. Never rely on style over substance.

Smart as a Night Owl

  1. Upgrade to Data-Driven Discussions:
    • Get started on the data collection required to get your team up to speed fast.
    • Develop a fact base on the prospect’s industry, brand, target, media behavior, trends
    • Start early to formulate a Point of View on the prospective client’s challenges with some straw model ideas that will benefit their business.
    • Use online resources and third party databases to anchor strategic recommendations you may make when the opportunity presents itself.

Why? This is more than getting a running start on proposals or solutions you may offer. It serves as the filter by which you choose to present your most relevant qualifications, skill sets and ideas. As a result, what you choose to say about yourself in communicating agency capability is then perceived by prospects to be magically on-point. Nothing more, nothing less.

Note: Prepping a Point of View is different than Sharing one; with good listening skills, you will read when your prospect is most receptive to your thinking, often after they have briefed you on their goals; however, with this pre-work, your team will be ready for a robust conversation with the prospect at each exposure.

Ring the Doorbell

5. Understand Corporate Culture

Recognize that vetting potential new agency resources is a sequenced, gated process for most companies; your goal after being invited to pitch is to move forward and not be eliminated! Understanding as much as possible about a prospect’s corporate culture and value system allows you to respond to and align with what is important to them, the ultimate value proposition a partner can provide.

Although reading the cultural temp is a practiced art, after being invited to pitch remember to simply:

  • Meet/exceed the ask.
  • Intrigue with incentive, the promise of more to come.
  • Invite the hire decision with a call to action/offer.

Practically Magic

Fall is a busy time of year when companies enter a season of budgeting and agency resource planning. Respond to new business opportunities fast, decisively and discriminately.

Treat Yourself

Have more questions? Like our thinking? Book a Coach-on-Call session with ROJEK Consulting today. You ask. We answer.