Six Lessons on Ad Agency Pitches from Lorraine Lockhart

For those who attended the 2010 New Business Conference, the annual “Live Pitch Competition” provides an opportunity to participate in or watch a random group of agency new business people prepare and pitch a new product to an imaginary client – start-to-finish in four hours. That is, present to a group of search consultants…live…in front of 400 of your peers.

I’d guess that as the participants are preparing, a few wonder if they’re going to come out on top, or end up feeling like a pig on its way to the slaughterhouse. The good news is that everyone survives and learns from the experience.

This year, Lorraine Lockhart of Rojek Consulting Group, summarized the session with six “lessons learned” that will be useful to review before any upcoming pitch. Here they are:

  1. Build the Case. Make it well-structured so you don’t lose your big idea. Everything must build on what came before.
  2. Be Client-Centric. It must be all about the client. Formulate your pitch this way: 10-80-10, where you spend 10% of your time on introductions; 80% delivering on the brief and presenting your case in a way that’s all about the client; and finally, 10% wrapping the presentation and closing the sale.
  3. Money Matters. Be prepared to talk about it; choose your money-spokesperson ahead of time. If you’re not prepared or comfortable talking about money, plan ahead of time how you’re going to address the question.
  4. PowerPoint as a Visual Aid. It should only be used as a prompt to create dialog.
  5. Be Careful if you Challenge the Brief. It can be okay to challenge the brief, but if you do so, do it respectfully. Use data to back up your position. Challenge positively, showing how you can improve the client’s opportunity. Definitely don’t come across as attacking the client.
  6. Speak with Conviction. Poor presentation skills distract from your content. Let the joy of what you do come through.

This is great advice for any presentation. Well said, Lorraine!


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