You know, I use to feel bad for my team when we were put through one of those “for show” new business pitches. You know the ones. Where the committee members greet you with weak handshakes and unsteady eye contact. Where the people in the room are more focused on fully filling out their evaluation sheets rather than what you’re saying and showing. The meetings that end on the low note where the final “Any questions?” question is followed with a long unsettling silence that goes on and on until finally it’s broken by the sound of a hungry decision-maker opening a bag of Bugles (a sign of enthusiasm, yippee!).
Those meetings still make me want to smash a Moon Pie in the face of the point of contact. But, I have to admit, I now have much more sympathy for the clients responsible for putting them on. It’s not that I’m more emotionally enlightened now and find peace in turning the other cheek. What I have realized is that these type of pitches end up hurting the clients most of all. Like dad always said before swinging the wooden spoon down on my butt “This is gonna hurt me more than you son.” Everything that makes advertising amazing…passion, originality, creativity…is stripped out of these presentations. Instead, decisions on the company’s future success are driven by politics and pre-set evaluation forms. It’s way too structured. It’s way to safe. The goal for clients should not be get all the answers you are looking for. I think that’s exactly not what is needed. If your goal is to achieve great marketing results, you should be looking for someone to passionately present the solutions you have never thought of. All great case studies in our industry began with a significant level of risk. These staged pitches are motivated by a no-risk, closed-minded mentality. For clients that go this route, it all leads to another year of average work and results. Which, once the contract expires, leads to another agency pitch. And the cycle continues. I smell Bugles.