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99 Problems and The Pitch Ain’t One

by Neil Follett - December 7, 2017

For those of you who don’t spend a lot of time reading on LinkedIn, here is a short tirade from our President that ensures we won’t be invited to pitches anymore:

99 Problems and The Pitch Ain’t One

Ok, that’s not true, pitches are the worst, and I’ve been waiting ages to use that headline! I had started (and wisely saved, not posted) a reflection on some recent experiences, but today I was given the chance to turn my (rant) writing around. 

I am sitting in the airport, about to take the 4th flight in 4 days, contemplating the meeting I just had. First off, let me say that I am grateful for being asked to the table for prospective business. And, yes, that sounds a bit like saying you are honoured to be nominated, but still it is true.

We can probably all agree that choosing an agency partner (we are partners, btw, not “suppliers”) is one of the most important thing a brand manager can do, but then why are pitches so often a soul-sucking experience?

Today was different, let me explain why.

Our effort was respected. 

Isn’t it crazy that just being respected feels like a treat! We were thanked excessively for the time, cost and energy that was required to get to the meeting. But moreover, the client paid attention (imagine!). No one had their laptop open, no one checked their email, and the questions we were asked were insightful and on point. Thank you!

The ask was reasonable.

We were asked to talk about who we are, what we’ve done, and how we work. We weren’t asked to do spec creative, or develop an entire strategy without time invested on the client-side. The goal was to determine if we were a good partner, not if we were good at developing a strategy for free in an environment that is unlike any we’d experience if we won the business.

We were afforded the luxury of time.

The meeting was, get this… 2.5 hours! Yes, a whole morning of being able to dig in, get detailed, meander a little, ask questions, and get to know each other. It wasn’t “swipe right”, it was a real date. And the meeting was with everyone from the VP to the EA. They were committed, attentive, respectful and open. It was a relief, and we loved it.

Are we going to win the business? I don’t know. Do I feel good? Sure do. Do I want to support that team and do our best work possible? Absolutely. And if we get the chance, I feel like we are set up for success from day 1.

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