September 15, 2014

You Can't Be Everyone's Girlfriend

A friend of mine, Peter Levitan, has just published a new book for agencies about pitching new business. The book is called The Levitan Pitch: Buy This Book. Win More Pitches.

Peter asked for my point-of-view on pitching new business, and it is included in his book under the heading (as you might expect) The Contrarian View. Here it is:
1. You can’t be everyone’s girlfriend
Do not pitch every stupid thing that comes along. Don’t try to fit yourself into every box. Not everyone is going to love you and not everyone is going to buy your story. Pick your spots.

2. Do what you tell your clients to do
The first thing we tell our clients is that they have to differentiate themselves. It is the one thing agencies never do. They all sound the same, look the same, and smell the same. Decide who you are and how you are different and better. If you can’t do that, hire Peter and let him do it for you.

3. Be clear on your objective at each stage
This is really important. A new business pitch is a 3 or 4 step process. At each stage your one and only objective should be to get to the next stage. You will not win the account at the first stage. At the beginning stages clients are not looking to hire an agency, they are looking for reasons to eliminate agencies. Give them reasons why they should continue talking to you, and don’t give them reasons to eliminate you.

4. Make the presentation you want to make, not the one you’re asked to make
For the final pitch, most of the time clients and search consultants provide you with outlines of the presentation they want to see. Throw it away and make the presentation you want to make. Remember, you have one shot only.

5. Only let the good presenters talk
There are brilliant people who are lousy presenters and dumb-ass bozos who are great presenters. Only let the good presenters present.

6. Have a strategy and stick to it
The final presentation should have a theme and every section of the presentation should spin off that theme and point to a conclusion where the strategy is clearly and creatively defined.

7. The best new business program is a good reputation
There's a lot more valuable stuff in Peter's book.


CRL said...

I would add: try and provide the client with a different perspective or new insight into their business. In other words don't tell them stuff they already know unless you can provide a unique perspective.

Cecil B. DeMille said...

Too many agencies practice becoming what a client wants instead of giving clients what they actually need. Money is much more valuable than the truth, it seems. Telling people what they want to hear is a business all its own. And art form, in the way that a perfectly-formed turd is art.

uglymugagency said...

Thanks for the recommendation Bob. I bought the ebook last night. Peter's book is a pretty good read. I'm even more impressed that he's a fellow Portlander who knows the biz and doesn't regurgitate the usual social media echo-chamber blather heard so often in this town.

Stephen Eichenbaum said...

Right again.

Lewis LaLanne - NoteTakingNerd said...

I imagine that if any agency owner actually opened the copy of Peter's book they bought and got past the first chapter (most don't with ANY book they buy) and read the 7 points above, I trust that one of these points landed with a thud on them as they'd previously been violating it and losing client after client because of it.

#3 is one I imagine would be revolutionary to some and I trust #4 is the most common sense one that people are killing their presentations by not adhering to it.

#4 makes me think of one of my favorite sayings which is, "Smooth talkers aren't usually smooth doers and smooth doers are not usually smooth talkers."

Maybe one or two lucky doers will have allowed the wisdom of #4 to shift their paradigm and begin to let themselves be happy with the person with all the razzle, dazzle, frazzle executing the pitch that actually wows the client and be satisfied with their brilliant behind the scenes contributions.