Pitch Perfect: A Guide To Owning The Creative Pitch Every Single Time

By | October 21, 2015
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Mallika GoelBelow is a guest post from Mallika Goel (@mallikagoel), marketing copywriter at WorkflowMax.

From the wayward creative to full-blown agencies, nothing brews more feelings of contempt than the thought of creative pitching. But just like meetings, pitching is a necessary evil.

Agencies need to win new business to survive and hence need to communicate, in some form or another, how they will add value to a project.

How can you manage the irrational fear and loathing of pitching? We share some tips that you can use to own the creative pitch every time.

Find the Right Client...and the Right Project Will Come

You can’t shoehorn a round peg into a square role, just like you can’t please an incompatible client. If the chemistry isn’t right, nothing you say will make a difference. The ultimate goal should be to find clients who share your passion, who you can trust, and who have the courage to go the distance with you. Find them first, and the great work will come.

Referrals are a great way to begin a promising relationship. So is reaching out to clients you admire and respect. Do your research. Their beliefs and values will give you a good indication of whether they’re the right fit for you.  

Make a Great First Impression

Winning starts well before the pitch. That’s why first impressions are incredibly important. Find out more about how to rock the initial client meeting.

Manage Expectations from the Get-Go

Instead of promising the moon and then under-delivering, manage client expectations right from the start. Clearly outline the exact deliverables the client will get at the end of the process. Also, how much will it cost? Everyone wants to know, so don’t tiptoe around the subject. Being open and transparent upfront will help you gain the client’s trust.

Ask Questions

Legendary designer and partner at Pentagram, Michael Beirut advises creatives to “just keep asking questions” to really understand the essence of what the client wants. It’s a process of mutual discovery. Clients hate being “sold to”—but if you’re genuinely intrigued by their problem, you’ll want to find the best solution. Uncovering their pain points will help you understand how to angle your pitch.

Induct your Clients

Client onboarding is a great way to introduce what you do and what you’re about to the client. You don’t have to wait until you’ve “won” the pitch. Instead think of onboarding as a critical part of the pitch. This is your opportunity to illustrate your unique differentiating factor, your culture, philosophy and, of course, that portfolio of awesome work!

Think of Yourself as a Creative Partner

Pitching is just the beginning of what you hope will be a long and glorious relationship. Entering any partnership requires a good deal of thought. As a creative advisor to the client, you both have a vested interest. So when the time comes to pitch, remember it’s not the job you’re pitching for, but a partner for (hopefully) years.

Don’t Underestimate the Audience

The client may not come from your creative world, but they know their product/service/industry a whole lot better than you do. Give them the credit and respect they deserve.

Instead of wondering why they don’t understand you, try to understand them! They may not know the ins and outs of design or content marketing, but it’s a wonderful opportunity for a little mutual education.

Let the Idea Sell Itself

A great idea needs no sugar-coating. If it’s unique or answers the problem, chances are it’s a winner. Instead of burying it in pages and pages, keep your presentation simple, succinct and creative. It’ll save time on both ends!  

Don’t Blame the Client

How many times have I seen creatives go in with an idea they were absolutely sure would be a winner, only to return dejected? They spend the rest of the week calling the client all sorts of names, and regurgitate the same idea the next time there’s even a hint of an opportunity.

Come on guys, you’re supposed to be creative. Recycling ideas? Really? So the client didn’t accept the proposal you spent hours on. Don’t blame them. Ask for feedback, be proactive and learn from it.

Rejection Can Be Good

It may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s true. Every pitch is an experience, another opportunity to practice, develop and refine. Review the feedback (see above) and know that your name, capabilities and expertise are now out there. Referrals go a long way in business, and you may have sparked something that starts a future relationship.

At one of the agencies I worked, the client remembered us from a pitch and recommended us for another job. It turned out to be a lucrative and prosperous relationship for years.

So there you have it, a guide to owning the creative pitch every time. How do you pitch for success?

Mallika Goel is a marketing copywriter at WorkflowMax, a project management system provider. She has over four years of experience agency-side, working with some of New Zealand’s leading brands. Learn more about fueling your own agency’s success with Mr. Duct Tape Marketing and WorkflowMax in a new free agency webinar.

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