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Diane’s point about knowing your audience is an important one, especially when we have so many tools at our disposal – from the search consultant (if there is one) to LinkedIn – that make it easier to learn more about who your clients are.
Two other things are important to consider when plotting out your pitch theater strategy – is it relevant to the client’s business issues and does it relate to the theme that you’ve established for the pitch? If you can answer “yes” to both those questions, your pitch theater idea stands a much better chance of being successful.
Even better if your idea can live beyond the pitch meeting or provide a teaser for it. Recently we pitched a car company and we decided to send four employees on a cross-country road trip between our offices in New York City and their US HQ in California. Driving two of the client’s models, we got to test the product for ourselves and talk to people all over America about how they liked driving that brand (all captured on video, of course, and shown at the final meeting).
Now, I can’t claim that a “road trip” is a wholly original idea (I know because I’ve spoken to other new biz executives who did similar stunts for similar clients), but what made this idea really work is the blog that we set up and made available to the clients so that they could check in on the progress of our travelers as they journeyed east to west. Each night, our road trippers would make a posting, including photos and videos from the day’s adventures, to a secure password-protected site. Now, rather than being a rather expensive one-off, we were establishing a dialogue with the client during that important period leading up to the final presentation and the client got a bit of free (if somewhat informal) customer research.
Good pitch theater ideas are hard to come by and I also encourage brainstorming outside of the pitch team and the new business leader. Good ideas come from everywhere and I’ve found more often than note they come from someone who is not focused on the pitch assignment or bogged down with logistics.