As an entrepreneur I have to pitch almost everyday. It happens at parties, at family reunions, at the bus stop, at lunch, at events, at meetings and in the sports club. It’s a part of my everyday business.
In advertising, it’s no different. You have to pitch your ideas to sell them. Ad agencies win only about 25% of new business pitches. Seriously, who wants to waste 75% of their time? No one. So I asked myself:
Is there a formula to winning an advertising pitch?
The good news is, yes there is! Successful advertising pitches follow a clear structure. Divide your pitch into four stages and apply these tips to win more pitches.
If you want to have all the key takeaways from this article at one glance you can download your own checklist right here for free!
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4 Steps to Winning an Advertising Pitch
Step 1: Preparation
Preparation is everything. Good preparation is the foundation of every great pitch. The better prepared you are, the more likely you’ll win a new client.
Understand the client’s brief
Make sure you understand the objectives of your client. Get crystal clear on it. What does your client want to achieve? Who is the target audience? If you have any gaps in here, research them and find answers. The more you know, the easier it becomes.
Use profiling and find similarities
Get to know your client. Identify the different profiles of the decision makers involved. Find out how each person will make their decision. You can check their social media profiles, for example, for readily available information.
People tend to like others more when they are similar to them. Use your knowledge about the decision makers and connect on a personal level. The more you have in common, the more you will like each other. This will enhance your chances to win the pitch.
Should you consider faking your personality to gain an edge? Absolutely not. You don’t need to make up similarities. You just need to bring out the parts of your personality that match. You’ll always discover something that you have in common.
It’s not about you; it’s about them
Before you create your advertising pitch, try to focus on the stakeholders at the client site. Remember: It’s not about you; it’s about them. Take a close look at the roles of the decision makers. These are some potential goals people in different positions look at:
- Managers: Strategy, Company Fit, KPI’s, Competitive Edge and ROI
- Project Managers: Planning and Milestones, Roadmap, Workload, Budget and Efficiency
- Developers: Architecture, Logic, Technical Barriers and Integrations
- UX Designers: User Needs, User Flow, Look and Feel, Research and Service
Step 2: Pitch Deck
Summarize the objectives, Show your skills
Start out by thanking your audience for their invitation. Then summarize their campaign objectives briefly. Show them that you fully understand them. Use the knowledge you gathered through research.
Then bring a slide to introduce the team and your company. Show them that you have the right skills. Give them social proof by providing success stories. Always show. Never just tell. Measurable results and awards work best.
Tell a compelling story
The best way to pitch is to tell a compelling story. Humans are magically attracted by stories. It’s the natural way to exchange knowledge. Every good book and movie has a catchy story.
So when you pitch, tell a story rather than trying to just sell your idea. You should create a plot that your audience will follow through. It’s all about tracing an arc of suspense.
Every new business pitch should do three things: inform, educate and entertain. (Steve Jobs) Click To Tweet
Make them feel the pain
To tell a compelling story you need to give your audience a clear picture of the scenery. Answer these questions: Where does it take place? How does it look like? Who is involved?
Then pick up a problem and outline it. This problem must be one that’s experienced by your client’s target group. Describe the problem as clearly and simple as possible.
Your goal is to connect your audience to this problem. Make them literally feel the pain. Answer these questions: Who faces the problem? How does it feel to them? How do they solve it right now?
Create a hero
When everyone is engaged with your story and bonded to the problem, it’s time to present your solutions. Show your way to address the problem. Keep it short and communicate clear benefits. The simpler, the better.
If you created a villain, there needs to be a hero too, right? The creation of a hero is a simple way to present a solution in a vivid way. It’s natural for us to sympathize with heroes. Create a hero and project your benefits onto him. Like a villain, a hero can be something abstract, too.
Use stats to show
After telling your story, it’s time to reinforce your solutions by bringing up statistics. Assume that nobody believes in your solutions until you proved their validity. Again, it’s more effective to show than to just tell.
You can make your solutions more credible by stating analogies or comparisons. E.g. “We implemented this for client X and created 10% more in sales.” Many people attribute well-known market research institutes or prestigious brands because of their high reliability. Quote their reports so that you can benefit from their authority.
Cut the workload and be the most professional
Clients look for professionalism. They want agencies that take the work out of their hands, not the other way around. Prove to them that you work efficiently. Demonstrate the tools you use and show how your client will benefit from them.
Many companies take their own time into consideration before picking an agency. Calculate the workload they have to invest when implementing your idea. Their own resources are far more valuable to them than your resources. If you want to impress a client, reduce their workload to a minimum. Give them a clear idea how you’ll achieve this.
Last but not least avoid text on your slides. The less text the better. The best way to tell your story is to show it in pictures.
Step 3: Presentation
Rehearse your advertising pitch
Before you go into an advertising pitch you need to practice. Rehearse until you feel confident about your pitch. Believe me, it’s an investment that pays out. Most pitches fail because people don’t take the time for rehearsal.
Take Steve Jobs as a role model. His pitches always looked easy. But it was hard work. He used two full days to practice and rehearse his pitch. Being well prepared makes you confident and looking sharp.
Keep it simple
When conducting an advertising pitch, you want to be seen as straightforward. Stop rhetoric agency speak. Present clearly and directly. Avoid fancy words and address the problems.
In these times of Twitter, smartphones and decreasing attention spans, it’s always best to keep it simple. Describe every idea in a single sentence. Think Twitter. Don’t use more than 140 characters.
Show your personality
Being enthusiastic about the ideas you pitch is never a mistake. Why should someone get passionate about it if you don’t even believe in it? So speak loud and clear. Vary your voice and change the speed of your speak. Don’t play a role. Show your personality.
Engage with your audience
Try to engage with your audience. You don’t need to convince your laptop. It’s not buying your advertising pitch. Make eye contact with your audience. Ask questions and be open to questions from the audience. If possible, answer them directly and immediately.
Step 4: Follow Up
Stick with them
Winning an advertising pitch means beating out other agencies. After you leave the pitch, you want to have burned your message into your client’s mind. Sometimes these clients listen to a dozen agencies over several days. Make sure you resonate with them. Leave a copy of your presentation or send them a follow up e-mail. Believe me, it matters.
Let’s face it: It’s crucial to win advertising pitches in order to get new clients. On average, agencies only win 25% of all their advertising pitches. By applying the following steps you can improve your amount of successful pitches.
- Step 1: Preparation
- Understand the client’s brief.
- Use profiling to connect with decision makers on a personal level.
- Step 2: Pitch Deck
- Summarize the objectives. Show your skills.
- Tell a compelling story and make your audience feel the pain of a problem.
- Create a hero as a way to bond to them.
- Use stats to prove your authority.
- Be visual.
- Step 3: Presentation Techniques
- Rehearse your advertising pitch.
- Keep it simple.
- Show your personality.
- Engage with your audience.
- Step 4: Follow Up
- Leave a copy of your presentation and follow up with more information.
We at Filestage would love to hear about your techniques to win advertising pitches. What are your best practices?
Did this article help you overcome obstacles you face? Please feel free to share or comment.
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Passionate about communications and client relations. He loves to dig into behavioral economics to uncover the irrationality in our daily behavior.