Creative pitches are the craziest and most surrealistic moment of a creative agency’s life. Iconically associated with the advertising industry, they define and sum up how crazy and unpredictable our job can be. But how can you prepare for a creative pitch effectively and bring the pitch experience to the next level? After years and years of successful and less successful pitches, I identified 9 key aspects that can help you plan and manage your creative pitch preparation effectively:
1. Carefully manage your time
Divide your available time in three phases:
- Set-up phase: This is the most important phase ‘cause everything starts from there. Here you set up the whole work. Allocate around 25% of the total time.
- Creation phase - This requires more time - about 50% of the overall project - and excellence in every respect: synthesis, execution, and style.
- Final rush phase - This could also be called the “extra mile” phase. It is the final effort, the extreme push when everything else seems to collapse. It takes around the remaining 25% of the time.
When you approach a pitch, you should start from the basics - brainstorming. This is absolutely essential and should involve all the creatives working on the pitch. You can use several tools for help:
- Competitors analysis
- Target analysis
- Results of focus groups and surveys
- References and inspiration from pinterest, instagram, vimeo, youtube, etc.
This aspect of your pitch is extremely important. Clients don’t really buy your TVC, leaflet or Instagram campaign. They buy a new vision, a new angle. Something that solves their problems and often opens a long journey of collaboration. They also buy your agency’s style and quality of execution.
Think back to your school days and take that naive and crazy approach you had years ago. As now you can back it up with years of experience and knowledge of clients and the market. This is the moment to listen to the kid inside yourself.
You have to make your ideas, presentation and design boom. There are far better chances of winning a pitch when your creative work looks basically ready for execution to your prospect’s eyes. And bear in mind that clients usually have very little imagination. That’s why you should show them an idea that is as complete as possible. My recommendation is to present your concept through a rubamatic or a stealamatic, with scenes and snippets taken from existing sequences, assembled along the lines of the story you want to tell to generate an emotional impact and give particular emphasis to immediate sensations.
6. Proposals’ tactics
The number of proposals you present is also very important. Three is the magic number as it allows you to test the client on different approaches:
- Your first proposal should be particularly impactful.
- The second proposal should be safer and more reassuring.
- The third proposal should be more unconventional.
This will also help you tackle the attention factor: your client will have a lot of attention during the first proposal, a bit less for the second one and probably not much attention left for the third proposal. By keeping this in mind you can modulate the presentation in order to lead the client where you want them to go.
We are made to change our mind. At this stage of your creative pitch preparation it is 100% fair and legitimate to ask yourself and your team-mates if your idea actually works. It is a crucial moment. Does the concept, the proposal work? If the answer is not 100% positive, then you’ll probably have to take a deep breath, go back and fix it.
8. Pitch Day
It is essential to dedicate an internal pre-pitch meeting to go through the presentation deck and define roles. Who is going to present what? Who is going to answer specific topics? Also, get ready to answer your client’s questions about budget.
9. The role of creative pitches
This last aspect is more of an observation. Creative pitches are more important than other projects, because they are the lifeblood of an advertising agency. They have the power to make clients choose you or leave you, to get you a new contract, to open new doors or to close them forever. They also offer a great chance for you to test and try new tools, methods, ideas, peoples and/or partners.