I have often heard the question asked, “What is the best way to structure an agency new business pitch?” My answer is that it always depends on the people, the environment and the time that you have available. Here’s why…
During my career, I have been involved in and led more new business pitches than I care to remember. Thankfully, more of them successful than not. My experience has helped me identify three different approaches, each one of them being successful, depending on the circumstances.
Give me your best work.
This is the scenario where you give the pitch team, and especially the creatives’ a clean sheet of paper and say have at it. Surprise me! The downside to this approach is that it is very difficult to review work internally under these circumstances. Any comment or criticism is often taken as a personal affront and leads to defensiveness on the part of the team.
This really only works well when you have a talented team that you completely trust, and are looking for breakthrough ideas-no matter the consequences.
In this scenario, the team feels that if they can second guess what the pitch leader or client wants, they will create the best work without having to endure unnecessary negative feedback or criticism. The problem with this scenario is that, in most instances, the team has not bought into the work and therefore has little to no ownership. In addition they are unlikely to deliver anything more than what you expect.
This works when you are completely in charge, know what you or the client wants, and are in a time crunch.
This requires a collaborative environment that includes team participation from both agency and client alike. In this scenario the focus of the combined team is on producing great work that delivers results. For this to work, there has to be an open environment, mutual respect, and cross functional team cooperation. The downside to this scenario is that it requires a considerable amount of time – more than is commonly available.
This approach is ideally suited to situations where you have a dedicated team composed of experienced and mature people, and enough time to allow the required dialog and interaction.