Why Pitching is just as important today as it was in the days of the Madmen.

Why do we need to go to such lengths just to get some extra work?

Advertising agencies have been known to spend weeks designing a pitch and spending lots of money and redirecting resources onto pitches.So why go to all this effort if there is a great chance that you could fail so visibly? Why even bother? The answer it seems is not as simple as it first appears.
Experts such as Oran Klaff in his book “Pitch Anything” inform us that a pitch isn’t just a random call out for work or pitching a client on the greatness of the agency you work at or introducing a client to your portfolio of work.A Pitch is a deeper and more innovative way of presenting an idea.  
Oran Klaff introduces a pitch as a whole way of framing your point of view. He believes you can maneuver your way through life by understanding other people’s “Frames” of thinking. 
Pitching for him becomes a cat and mouse game of how to dismantle your opponent’s point of view and how to position your frame as a more valuable and informed idea set. 
Oran informs us that managing mental framing is not unlike intellectual Judo. It’s about strongly engaging your opponent and moving them off balance to position yourself as a more important and valuable frame of thinking.
In his book “Pitch Anything” Oran Klaff gives us an insight into a life where he pitches ideas for venture capitalists that are worth hundreds of millions of dollars. What he shows us, is that understanding the methodology of a pitch for some people can be life-changing. An Advertising agency’s future can hang in the balance around the success or failure of a pitch. If a large pitch fails and a competitor swoops in and gets a competitive advantage from winning a big client then this could lead to redundancies and at worst the collapse of a successful business. So when it comes to pitching, sometimes the stakes are high.
This type of rhetoric to Blair Enns in his book “Win Without Pitching Manifesto” is just nonsense that takes over people’s thinking if they have been in the advertising industry too long. Agency staff can become too hung up on the success and failure of client pitches and we are informed that we should take a broader view of agency life and what a pitch is.
Blair suggests an alternative point of view suggest that we should find other ways of positioning an agency’s skill set in the marketplace and would lead to greater credibility and relevance leading the agency and its employees to be recognised as leaders in their fields. This alternative point of view can show how transparent a brand can be – and a spade can quite happily be called a spade.
This alternative point of view works quite well if you have a less competitive market, where you have industries that work quite closely with each other and are supportive of each other. However, this tends to lead to less competitive outcomes and a more aggregated business landscape.

The people who thrive and succeed with pitching are those that seem to understand the inner workings of the brain and what it takes to motivate people into action.They are people who understand different personality types and how to modify their pitch when they sense or feel differing responses or resistance towards their ideas. This is why people who are pitching an idea to a client prefer to be in the room rather than Zoom or on Skype.
The person pitching the idea may use tricks to get and keep the client’s attention, for example using a technique called Time Framing. Where the person pitching the idea tells the viewer if they are not giving them all their attention this moment will pass and they will miss a great opportunity. 
They also tend to frame their point of view as a “Prize” and this can defect any opposition to their idea. Other techniques such as Moral Authority Frame and Intrigue frame can also work effectively in fast-paced pitch situations.These techniques are very important because they open the door to the conscious mind by appeasing the reptilian brain. These techniques of setting the frame have proven to work well and can focus the mind to paying attention rather than just letting the mind graze over an idea. It has been proven that unless the neocortex is emotionally engaged (the rational or thinking brain) the mind will not connect to the idea, because the reptilian brain can’t reason very well (the Reptilian Brain is designed to keep us out of trouble at all times. It works as an initial filtering system and its reasoning power is primitive. It will not send anything to the Neocortex for problem-solving unless there is an unexpected or out-of-the-ordinary situation.) This is why the brain needs to be led on a journey through Storytelling and this is the art of the Pitch.
So the trick to well-crafted pitching is to move the audience as quickly as you can away from rational details bringing them into a more fertile headspace of emotional and narrative content this is called the hook point. Corralling the viewer emotionally gets them vested in the prize. The success of a great pitch is not in how well the details are presented, but in how well a connection can be made on a human level. The skill is in the ability to nudge the person out of analytical thinking and into intrigue, using elements of surprise and tension.
A pitch is a way of getting the people we are doing business with to a level of emotional connection that can’t be done on a purely analytical level. A pitch is designed to touch the emotions of the people you are communicating with as much as it is designed to communicate a business idea.The art of this is in the ability of the pitcher to make such an audience of strangers so emotionally connected to an idea that it moves them from a level of interest to a level of belief, where they are so emotionally connected to an idea they are willing to invest. 
This is why this traditional method of pitching won’t be replaced any time soon. Snake oil anyone?
References – Klaff, Oren, 2011,Pitch Anything – an innovative method for presenting, persuading, and winning the deal. 
United States,McGraw Hill, ISBN: 978-0-07-175976-2, 
Enns, Blair, 2018 Second Edition, The win without pitching manifesto,
Canada, Gagan Press,ISBN: -3:978-1-9995235-2-7(EPUB)

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Hello, I'm Kevin Murrant

 

I’m delighted you are checking out my blog. I have posted a series of eclectic thoughts that stem from what made an impression upon me in my travels and in the creative and advertising world. 

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