The Perfect Pitch
“A good proposal, and most other things, is about attractiveness – attractive appearance, attractive personality, and attractive presentation. That’s what makes an effective and successful pitch.”
This is what Ms. Nguyen Thi Bao Chau, a Business Development Manager of LuatViet Company shared. With much experience in the field, she has met with many agencies and decided which ones would be the best for her company. What persuaded her to make those decisions? Common knowledge would say the quality of an agency’s proposal, but that is just the final product of the working process. Essentially, it is the communication process that she evaluated. An effective pitch, therefore, shapes a client’s perception of an agency. Let’s explore what they really think and expect from an agency by exploring several tips Ms. Chau has for agencies. Thus, by wearing the client hat, an agency could make the pitch more efficient and appropriate.
LuatViet Advocates and Solicitors is a law firm that provides lawyers, advisors and partners. Their services are generally about giving clients legal support from a wide range of professional and experienced staff. As a Business Developing Manager, Ms. Chau’s tasks are to set marketing plans, organize events, arrange project launches, and of course, work with the agencies. Each year, LuatViet has a General Conference that invites lawyers not only around the nation but also globally. This annual event is very significant for the company so Ms. Chau’s role is very crucial. Thus, she has to work with many agencies to choose the best partner and proposal for the event.
Dan and Chip Heath proposed a method to make an idea stick in the audience’s mind. By saying stick, they meant making an idea easy to understand and remember so it could affect the listeners’ attitudes and behaviors afterwards (Heath & Heath 2007). This is a useful guide for anybody, not only agencies or business people, to apply in casual communication to send a message that would stick with the listeners beyond the conversation. However, a business pitch must not only change the clients’ behaviors but also satisfy their expectations and needs. Sticky ideas, unfortunately, cannot fully cover this aspect. Then, what are the expectations and needs that agencies have to accomplish? Are they stated in the contract or do clients naturally think that the agencies must know themselves? Ms. Chau, as a client, could reveal some missing points in the progress of generating an effective pitch.
“I wouldn’t want to work with someone that doesn’t develop themselves, from knowledge, personalities to appearance.”
First impressions are always the key to any lasting relationship. By the time an agency representative opens the door, walks in, and says “Hello” and sits down, their clients have already formed an initial impression. As the representative speak for the entire agency, it is essential they show the clients the agency’s values. Also, a comfortable and relaxing atmosphere for the pitch with the clients is necessary. Ms. Chau said that as a woman, she always dress up professionally attending a meeting with an agency and expects them to do so in return. Business meetings require professionalism, and dressing up neatly is something any agency representative needs to do. Ms. Chau added that agency representatives must not go to meetings without bringing anything. There have to be documents, presentation slides or anything that could visualize and summarize their ideas. This is to assist the client in having a clearer understanding of what the agency intend to present.
“I want to see what I need and expect to see from a pitch.”
In a pitch, clients are there to listen to what agencies have prepared and proposed so there will be much information and many ideas they have to absorb. Thus, they really want simplicity and clarity. As stated in Heath and Heath’s sticky ideas (2007), a pitch should be simple, concrete and unexpected. To clarify, the pitch needs to be straight to the point, concise and easy to understand. Sometimes, the client’s decision to choose an agency or not is already made during the pitch so the agency needs to make their pitch profound and clear. Also, they should show the clients that they are well-prepared and have back-up plans for any situations. Ms. Chau said that she appreciated agencies that put a lot of effort into coming up with ideas for a project. Clients always expect the best products from their agencies, and they want them to do it passionately (Ammani 2012). In most cases, the deciding factor in Ms. Chau’s judgment of an agency is their passion in working for her company.
“Be patient, we are not experts.”
During the pitch, the agency’s role is to explain the big idea, key message, and the proposal in general to their client, so they can consider, make comments and decide. This means the pitch is very important for both sides to reach a final agreement. As stated above, the agency should present their ideas simply and clearly. However, sometimes they think it is easy to understand, but their client does not. Hotz, Ryans and Shanklin’s research (1982) also revealed most agency respondents believed their clients lack knowledge of advertising and marketing. This often leads to the agencies being arrogant and demanding. Ms. Chau opined that agencies should always be patient and willing to respond to their clients’ questions. Also, they need to sympathize with their clients and explain everything succinctly to them.
Advertising today is one of the most significant practices. In order to promote companies, services, brands and the like, every organization chooses this promotional tool to announce their existence as well as boost their values. However, there are so many advertising agencies out there, the representatives have to make their company a first choice of any company. Ms. Chau’s organization has their list of agencies, and her choice often depends on the first pitch of an agency and, later on, their proposal. Thus, it is significant to impress her – a client prioritizing by appearances, ideas delivery and patience – as an agency-to-be.
Ho Ngoc Khang Ninh – firstname.lastname@example.org
Proof of life
Ammani, P 2012, ‘Friend or a foe – Understanding the client agency relationship in advertising agency’, Romanian Journal of Marketing, no. 1, p. 40-49.
Heath and Heath 2007, Made of Stick: Why some ideas survive and others die, 1st edn., Random house, NY, USA.
Hotz, MR, Ryans JK Jr. and Shanklin, WL 1982, ‘Agency/ Client Relationships as seen by influentials on both sides’, Journal of Advertising, vol. 11, no. 1, p. 37-44.