One of the important factors in any pitch decision is how aligned the agency is to the advertiser’s culture. And while there can be some misunderstandings, it is important to make sure you know who you are pitching to, the culture of the business and the people employed there before you go to pitch.
If you have worked in the industry for long enough you would be well versed with the pitch process. This usually involves a practice run, who will attend the presentation, what format you present in and who is going to speak when.
The one area that you may skip over, which is easy to do as you try to pull together your approach, is who you are presenting to. It becomes a lot about you and your methods.
But remember the audience you are presenting to. The decision makers.
Running pitches is about the advertiser and what appeals to them. It is very hard to answer this question at this early stage as you have probably met only one or two key stakeholders at the initial brief. So the next best thing you can do is ready your audience and the room on the day to ensure you appeal to as many attendees as possible.
You only need one attendee with a negative experience to kill your chances when decisions are being made.
Here are a few tips on spotting some of the personality types that could be in attendance and whom you need to engage.
Usually the person you have received the brief from or the person who owns the pitch. They already know in their mind what they want to see and tend to get carried away with the sound of their own voice to direct the conversation. This person needs to be politely swayed around to engage in your conversation and at the same time felt they were heard. They are eating into your time and need to be reminded of your agenda.
The Silent Assassin
They are analysing all the time. You may not notice them as they seem not engaged in what you are saying, however be assured they are taking down points on your response and probably taking note of who in your team is adding value or just in attendance. This person will have plenty to say in the stakeholder review.
The Type A Personality
They are ready to challenge you on every point for the sake of a good argument. Their agenda is to see how you think on your feet and how you solve a problem on the spot. It is important for them to know you are forward thinkers who can add value to their thinking. Give them the right energy without coming across as though it is an argument and they will be impressed.
They can also take up a lot of your presentation time as they will be very engaged and want to make sure you understand their needs. They really want to understand that you know and care about their requirements. A lot of eye contact and careful answers are required. Again time is of the essence so the promise of sending over any extra information after the meeting will be valuable to them. As will the extra effort to make contact with them one on one.
They are generally willing to give everyone a chance for the sake of everyone getting on. They can’t stand a room full of tension or conflict so they put their energy into managing the room. It would be a benefit to ensure they are brought into the conversation to make sure they have a voice in the decision as an advocate.
The Gentle Pencil Twirler
They have a voice and an opinion but they feel no one would listen, no one would care and so they stay quiet, in the background actually not wanting to be noticed. The benefit of including them is to make them feel part of your Team.
The Day Dreamer
They sit and listen, contribute when they need to and when they want to, they have interests and disinterests. They want to be part of the meeting but they also want to get on with it and get out there and do something else. So make their time memorable.
The Loud than Loud Voice
There is often an agenda driver in the room – someone who is well versed at ‘shouting loudly’ in the organisation to get what they want or need. Typically, this person will be the owner of the largest budget, business unit, product or brand; but they can come from anywhere. This person will continually bring the discussion back to their individual needs, as opposed to the needs of the broader organisation. They need to be listened to, engaged with or recognised individually in terms of the answers you give in response to a brief, but also observed to gauge the level of their influence in the room.
They don’t want to be there; the moment they walk in they are sighing and checking their watch. They give little away in their expression and will not participate. Actually making them participate will probably annoy them more and lead to deadly silence in the room. Engage only when appropriate and don’t over extend their desire to participate, get to the point and don’t waffle.
The Distant Leader
Sometimes close in appearance to the Clock Watcher, the Distant Leader is typically a member of the ELT acting as project sponsor. This person won’t say much, but will expect silence when they do speak. As with the Clock Watcher, avoiding waffle is important, as is too much jargon, sycophancy or lack of strong opinions. Ensure you have the right member of your own team (senior) to play this person individually, aside from the main presentation where necessary.
There are, of course, elements of some of the personality types that fit more than one person and sometimes you can’t figure out a person in the meeting at all. However being aware as to how you best interact with your audience will tick off some of the requirements each individual needs.
The chemistry is a huge part of what will form the end result, as it is human nature. You can have the best presentation in the world but if you don’t connect with the audience as part of your presentation format it can all go out the window.
Even better, if you can identify the personality types and if you create chemistry from those observations, then half the job is done.