Let’s talk about Pitching!(Part 1)

 

What is pitching?

Agency Pitching is one route clients take when selecting a partner. This is when a client shares the same creative brief with a select number of agencies, who then turn around to hash away at the problem and then pitch their idea or solution to them. Typically agencies don’t get paid for pitch work, but if they win they get the entire project (usually a decent size) or the retainer for a set number of years. 

 

Seems reasonable, no?

The creative industry is cut-throat with constant competition. If you take into account that pitches aren’t paid, hundreds of hours are usually spent and agencies still need to pay employee salaries, whelps you can see how the economics quickly escalate into the red. That is unless you win all your pitches, which is rare.

 

Know what you want from the pitch

Over the last few months, we’ve had our fair share of pitching and across different industries. What have we discovered? A lot of uncertainty. Unfortunately clients themselves don’t know exactly what they want or need, which of course makes it extra challenging for the agencies to pitch a solution. In the end, it comes down to luck and how well we can guess what the client really needs.  

 

Our thoughts

As challenging pitches can be, we have this odd love, energy and enthusiasm for them. There are the joy of victories, the frustration of failures and the gained experiences – we’ve seen it all.

In this two part series, we talk to a few Threadsters on their view of pitching. First up, we have Eva, Art Director, Threadster for 11 years and Christina, Planner, Threadster for 14+ years.

Do you like to pitch?

Of course not! Fear of the unknown is a human instinct. A pitch is typically something that takes a lot of time and effort but may not pay off. It’s really scary to be in front of so many people and tell them about our ideas.

 

What’s the most challenging part?

Finding a unique creative entry point, this is the key to winning the pitch. We have to admit that competition definitely stimulates people to come up with something better.

 

What’s the best thing about it?

In my opinion, the result is of course very important since there are some losses and some wins in the pitch, but teamwork really makes people gain a lot. As a team we play on each other’s respective strengths and work towards the same goal because in a pitch it’s impossible for one person to finish it all. In the end, after it all – we feel great because the final product is great!

As a team we play on each other’s respective strengths and work towards the same goal because in a pitch it’s impossible for one person to finish it all.

 

How does it feel to win?

It’s great for both the company and everyone who was a part of the pitch, there’s a lot of emotions that can’t be replaced. Usually, it’s a decent sized project from a large company, which means that after winning the contract the return is also fulfilling. The most important thing though is to give yourself and the team the recognition. 

 

How does it feel to lose?

Purely from the probability standpoint (and regardless of expertise or ability), there’s a higher chance to lose than win, especially if clients pick many agencies to participate. Of course, it’s frustrating to lose, but if you flip it, it also shows that there’s someone better than you. At least for me, I find it motivating as it encourages me to keep learning and improving.

 

What do you think the most valuable thing you learn from pitching is?

It is more important to find the real needs of the client than to find a unique idea. Even if you find a good idea but deviate from the real needs of the client, you will lose the pitch.

It is more important to find the real needs of the client than to find a unique idea. Even if you find a good idea but deviate from the real needs of the client, you will lose the pitch. The client not only looks at the plan but also considers the team executing the plan. Especially when the creative idea and execution plan is weighted equally, the client will value the attitude and enthusiasm of the execution team. When looking at the market and competitors, it’s important to stimulate the imagination of the clients. In many cases, true value comes when we show them how things could look in the future – applications, extensions, etc. Clients may not be able to think or see these things, until we help them see what’s possible. 

 

Do you like to pitch?

I’m not a huge fan, mainly because most pitches mean you don’t get much client feedback and interaction during the process. I find it’s so valuable to be able to collaborate with the client – ask them questions, bounce ideas, review material they have, workshop etc.  

 

What’s the most challenging part?

Skipping steps in pitches due to timelines or limitations by the client. I love processes and structure, they work for a reason and it’s how my brain is wired. So when we’re in a crunch and we have to make tradeoffs and tough decisions, I always have moments of internal struggle.

 

What’s the best thing about it?

You’re forced to learn an immense amount of information about an industry, in a ridiculously short amount of time. Then you have to regurgitate it so that it makes sense for the project and client! 

You’re forced to learn an immense amount of information about an industry, in a ridiculously short amount of time.

 

How does it feel to win?

Like the first real day of Spring after a long cold Winter. We all know that feeling!

 

How does it feel to lose?

It’s disappointing of course, but what’s worse is if you don’t learn from the loss. Especially spending all that time (= money), so see if you can find out the reason the project went to another agency (or was dropped). As a client, it’s the least they can do.

It’s disappointing of course, but what’s worse is if you don’t learn from the loss.

 

What do you think the most valuable thing you learn from pitching is?

Know your team well, play to their strengths and support them where needed. If you’ve got someone presenting and they get nervous, book an extra run through session with them so they can practice. At the end of the day, it’s a team sport!

 

 

In the end, what’s the secret to pitching?

If you have the answer, do tell! Because we’re still trying to figure that out. Maybe there is no secret? That it’s more about building up experiences and exploring with the team where the uncertainty of a pitch can take you all.

Calling all Brand owners and Clients

Our last request is to the clients and Brand owners. Please treat the pitch with respect and take it seriously, consider a paid pitch with a set budget for each agency, provide a clear brief on what you really need or struggling with, and take an extra day before sending out the request. In the end, it helps everyone involved.