Posted by: Ele Quigan | May 29, 2010

‘Perfect Pitch’, Jon Steel

I’ve been working on a pitch the last couple of weeks, which, if you’re not in advertising basically means very late nights working on pulling creative/strategy/awesomeness together to win business. I think I clocked up about 70 hours this week (yes that is crunching that many into 5 days, insane when you realise the pitch meeting was actually Friday morning, and I left early on Friday afternoon) working on it. So they are a BIG THING.

As I hadn’t worked on one before I pulled a book from the work bookshelf called ‘Perfect pitch’ to see if it contained any insight or anything interesting that might help me out.

‘What shite’ I thought as I finished it. It felt fairly tedious (for a book I read in a couple of bus trips) and almost seems to say things that SURELY an idiot would know. i.e. Spelling mistakes are bad. Make sure you have the right people working on it. Don’t get people talking about the work who don’t know anything about it. Practice Practice Practice. Plan your story before you even open powerpoint. All the best ideas come from great insight…

It included a few things that I absolutely disagree with too. For example if a single person is making things difficult – keep it together and keep them on the pitch (and even in the pitch presentation). To me that’s a huge no-no, as to a client it shows the team isn’t working together, particularly if they make the mistake of disagreeing with someone in the presentation, or even trying to squeeze in an extra creative thought/insight/strategy concept that wasn’t included by the rest of the team for good reason…

People can sniff out a few things from a mile off – Fear (you haven’t practiced enough, don’t know the content, or are trying to cover your ass if you’ve missed something), team issues (as above) and general unpreparedness (that you’ve spelt the clients brand incorrectly throughout the entire presentation).

Self explanatory!

So I finished it, casting aside its arrogance, (particularly in regards to the authors win rate) and long winded approach to the London 2012 bid which I think comes up in the book about 30 times with a full breakdown of the final speech. (when really, as they offered £1 billion more in potential advertising revenue, I am certain that was more of a deciding factor than the blahblahblah about it being the young peoples’ Olympics…)

Until we were getting to the last stages of the pitch I was working on last week…

Suddenly I found myself spouting stuff that had only come from reading this book. I put myself in charge of ‘the leave behind’ documents – and as the company we are pitching for is a natural/green/socially responsible company, ensuring that they weren’t print outs was top of my list. Then adding to that, giving them something physical that brought the creative to life (and wasn’t just a picture on a board). Comments about deck/presentation (I still can’t get over that they call them ‘decks’ here) and how it might end (to ensure the presentation doesn’t sag after the creative bit), lots of random thoughts and ideas popping up all over the place…

I was actually surprised how much of an impact the book had – I must have taken more of it in than expected.

Fingers crossed we win and all, and to be honest, I can’t be as scathing as I wanted to be about this book – since it actually made me think slightly differently and outside of the box on some things. I guess the proof will be in the pudding when we hear the result of our hard work and late nights on Tuesday morning…



  1. Deck? *Deck*? What the hell?

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