The Pitch

Having recently completed a couple of pitches to prospective clients, I was struck, once again, at the magnitude of the process and the level of emotional energy required in order to pull one off successfully.

I have had the pleasure of sitting at both ends of the room—as a client being pitched to, and as a member of a strategic/creative shop trying to wow the client and earn their business. In the latter, a team is gathered and a plan is identified. That’s the easy part. What comes after is a plethora of activity focused on trying to nail down what needs to be said, by whom, and how the case needs to be communicated strategically within the time allotted. Not as easy as it sounds. What also comes into play is that all-important need to drive home how your team is a natural “fit” with the client organization and the specific engagement. Now, “fit” is as elusive a concept as has ever existed. At the end of the day, what is really needed is a strategic balance of the “talent” in the room—talent that is going to showcase your firm’s strengths, and talent that meets the needs of the client. From there, you really are rolling the dice when it comes down to personalities.

The process normally starts after being short-listed following the submission of a proposal. The shortlist is usually not revealed to those on it, so yet another challenge is the fact that you’re not aware of the competition. And, that’s what it really boils down to, a competition. If compared to a sporting event, imagine going into a game not knowing who you’re playing against... makes it that much more difficult to establish a game plan, doesn’t it? That said, the best and usually the wisest approach is to simply go into it with what you are proposing and with an assurance that the best team is going to be in the room highlighting and showcasing their knowledge, their experience, and most importantly, their passion for their craft.

The pitch is as important a performance as any in the life of a marketing/communications professional. It’s that snapshot of time whereby you get the opportunity to highlight and showcase your knowledge, your experience, and most importantly, your passion for your craft. With that having been said, there is no greater emotional drain to that of being later informed that all that time, legwork, background, experience and, well, passion isn’t enough... it just “isn’t a fit.” Losing the pitch sometimes simply comes down to that, and in some ways, it actually makes you feel somewhat better knowing it wasn’t what you presented, it was simply a difference in personality—and that’s the one thing that fundamentally shouldn’t be altered. No matter what the pitch, “you do you,” as they say.