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This article was published on November 12, 2015

5 ways to perfect your pitch

5 ways to perfect your pitch
Amber Leigh Turner
Story by

Amber Leigh Turner

Owner and Creative Director of January Creative

Owner and Creative Director of January Creative in Nashville, Tennessee, Amber has been a self-employed graphic and web designer for over ei Owner and Creative Director of January Creative in Nashville, Tennessee, Amber has been a self-employed graphic and web designer for over eight years, starting early in her collegiate career. Amber has a unique passion for not only all things design, but all things business as well. Freelancing as a student gave Amber an opportunity to write a student freelancing book, appropriately named Students Freelancing 101: A Start to Finish Course to Becoming a Student Freelancing, to help other students who want to start freelancing. Follow her on Twitter. Email her at https://21.co/amberleighturner/

Ever wondered how creative agencies pitch their clients creative work? We could all use a little help when it comes to pitching clients in hopes to land more gigs.

I had the opportunity to chat with several creative agencies on how they pitch to prospects in order to win some pretty awesome clients and projects. These tips and pointers range from how to convert a prospect into a client, to doing really fun things that can leave a lasting impression.

We can never get enough help or advice for when we are pitching our prospective clients, so here are some of the top creative pitching tips you can use to help you land your next client or creative project.

Don’t hide your personality

Daniel Francavilla, Creative Director of Now Creative Group, explains you shouldn’t hide your personality just because you’re running a business.

We don’t hide our personality. Businesses are made up of people. Prospective clients and proposal reviewers are people just like us. We aren’t afraid to have casual conversations and exchange friendly greetings right off the bat.

Clients don’t mind seeing some personality, and oftentimes it can help you land clients that you may not have otherwise.

Consider the nature of how the relationship started

Sometimes, you may find that your standard pitch many not work with a client that comes to you as a referral as opposed to those coming via your network, or vice versa. Depending on how you initially got the lead, you might need to adjust your pitch. This is what Matt Brown, Founder of 336 Creative, recommends doing.

When pitching clients, you have to take into consideration the nature of how the relationship started, because that can dictate your approach. If the prospective client reached out to you and contacted you, they did so for a reason – they were referred to you, they saw your portfolio or a project you completed and liked it, etc. With this, you’ve already established yourself and your firm somewhat as a trusted authority figure. If on the other hand, you’ve struck up a relationship with them through a cold call, or networking, or some other approach, you have a little bit more of an uphill battle in establishing yourself and your firm as a trusted figure.

It’s true. If your standard pitch is mainly for referrals, then it could need some adjusting for someone that came to you through networking.

Make ‘em sick, make ‘em well

Matt Burch, Content Director of Paramore Digital, says their president preaches this approach:

For our pitches, we have a “make ‘em sick, make ‘em well” philosophy. This is something Hannah Paramore, our president, has preached to us; it’s an old adage from one of her mentors and we’ve found it to be highly effective.

First, you make ’em sick: We tell our clients the issues they’re having with their brands and their websites. Often times, there’s too much going on: visual clutter and unclear calls to action are the most common issues websites more than three or four years old face. Then we cure them with our creative. It’s always a striking difference; our creative tends to be much more minimalistic than what they expect.

This is definitely great advice, as it’s sometimes hard for clients to understand exactly what could be wrong with their current designs and marketing, and they need to fully understand the gravity of those things.

Leave a fun, lasting impression

If you aren’t the only one pitching a particular potential client, finding ways to set yourself apart from others can be difficult. However, you can search for ways to leave a lasting impression for when your presentation is done.

Jill Spaeth, President and Director of Design at Citizen Creative and AIGA National Board Member, found a really clever way to leave a lasting impression after one of her pitching presentations.

Pitch presentations can be daunting, which is why I always like to add in something creative and fun to leave a lasting impression. Most notably at a recent pitch (and even a proposal submission) I concluded the presentation by passing out small bags of green gumballs with a tag inside that says ‘Let’s chew on some great ideas together!’ It was well received!

This is one of many ways to leave a lasting impression that is creative and clever (along with matching your personality as described above).


We’d rather be the magpie than the peacock

Many designers often are asked to produce speculative work (spec work for short) as part of their pitch. We know this is a no-no for many reasons, but clients still ask for it and some designers still oblige in hopes of landing the project.

Michael Johnson, Design Director of Happy Cog, says they never produce spec work because often request for proposals (RFPs) don’t give all the details.

We run up against a lot of speculative design in pitches. There are plenty of reasons why we don’t prepare any, not least is the fact an RFP won’t tell you everything you need to know to solve the problem in a way that would hold up to any real scrutiny. There’s an Aesop’s fable about a peacock that’s nearly made king, but he’s exposed as a showy fraud by an inquisitive magpie. Spec work has a power that’s hard to argue, but in a pitch good questions beat good answers. We’d rather be the magpie than the peacock.

While it always seems easier to produce a piece of design on spec in hopes to land the job, Michael explains that you aren’t really doing the client any favors, because you aren’t seeing answers to help make the design better. He wants to be the one to ask the right questions, and get the right answers in order to produce the right results.

So the next time you go to pitch your next big creative project with a prospective client, try one (or several) of these top tips – all of which are really interesting and clever ways in which these creative agencies pitch their clients.

Read next: 5 Presentation Tips to Beat Your Competition

Image credit: Shutterstock

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