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The Perfect Pitch

6 min, 21 sec read
12:30 PM | 2 June 2016
by Ricky Richards
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Since being introduced to FutureRising, I’ve been fortunate enough to give talks at several Universities around the country. During this time I’ve met hundreds of creative students and watched countless pitches to the briefs we put out at the end of every event. Below is a list of 10 focus points where students typically slip up while giving these pitches.

Note* The brief asks students to choose a struggling brand and to suggest a campaign for how they may re-establish themselves in the market.

1. Lack Of Strategy

It’s said that advertising without a strategy is art, and art with a strategy is advertising. There’s an unfortunate belief that an idea alone is enough to attract people. Nine times out of ten this is not the case. You’ll need to think not only about the creative idea, but how you intend to get people to engage with your campaign in the first place.

2. Bar To Entry

Bar to entry refers to the amount of effort your target has to go through to perform the action you’re requesting. The lower the bar, the more likely someone is to engage with your message. You have to ask yourself.. Would I be prepared to take the actions I’m asking of other people? If the answer is no, It’s unlikely that other people, who are less invested in the idea than you, would either.

3. The Brands Market

Make sure the idea targets the desired demographic. If you’re trying to target a youthful fashion brand for example, don’t suggest an idea that involves dressing middle aged people in the clothes. Brands appeal to a very specific target group, and you want the idea to always land with that core demographic first, before you consider having a wider appeal.

4. Will It Make Money?

There’s a small selection of brands that do TVC’s for awareness, but they’re few and far between. Most brands advertise with the purpose of selling their product. If possible, make sure you work out a way that your idea is, if not resulting in a sale, at least getting the customer to a point of purchase. The easiest way to do this would be a call to action, but if you can be smarter than that then great.

5. Budget

99% of brands have less than a million pounds to throw at advertising. It’s not unusual to be asked to create amazing advertising on a shoe string budget, which means you need to get tactical. As an exercise to help you improve, think what you would do if you had no budget at all. Most campaigns delegate roughly 15% of the overall sum to creative execution and the rest goes to media spend. This means you need to get used to pitching ideas that don’t cost the earth to execute.

6. Visualising Ideas

There are countless times when I’ve seen a really nice supporting visual be the deciding factor between two ideas. Don’t forget, it takes years of practice to become great at verbally communicating ideas in an interesting and compelling way. If you’re not the best presenter yet, the best thing you can do is to visualise your ideas in a way that bridges the gap between your thinking, and the way other people will imagine it in their head. Most clients aren’t as used to visualising ideas, so anything you can do to support your idea will go a long way to communicate your vision.

7. It’s Not 1960

TV, print & radio all used to work well in 60’s; this is because these mediums were the prominent way people consumed media at the time. Nowadays however, people spend more time than ever on their phones or on social media. The web also enables ads to direct people directly to a point of purchase. A click on a mouse or a tap on a phone is a much lower bar to entry compared to typing in a URL from a poster or TV ad. Unfortunately this means that TV and Print will continue to dwindle. You’ll have to get used to the focus of your campaigns being online. They’re may be times when you get to produce a TV or print campaign, but it’s no longer the norm. Focus your attention where the market is and where it’s going in the future, instead of where it was over 50 years ago.

8. Touch Points

One avenue that is extremely effective is to reach customers at the various touch points where they interact with a product. This might be online reviews, escalators, Spotify or the backs of toilet doors. The list is endless for where people spend their time, but capturing your target audience’s attention in ‘captive moments’ should be a key proponent of your strategy.

9. Compelling Title

Giving the idea a great title that sums it up in a succinct and clever way is a sure fire way to get interest from the offset. I once worked on a brief for the launch of a new flagship store for Adidas Originals. They wanted an idea that played on heritage and I came up with an idea to bring back Pirate Radio. The idea involved branding up a boat on the Thames River. We called the idea ‘The Flagship’ which encapsulated the idea of the ‘pirate radio ship’ and the new ‘flagship store.’ This made the idea much more compelling when we came to pitch it.

10. Influencers

Influencers are great for advertising because they have a very targeted audience, which is perfect if you’re trying to sell a product that aligns with that audience. If you intend to use influencers you need to know which influencers you would look to target and why. If chosen correctly, you should be able to point out how the audience of a particular influencer aligns with the product you’re trying to sell and what that individual will do to sell the product to their audience. If you request that they do anything unauthentic, it’s likely they wont do it, so you need to be clever with how you intend to integrate them into your campaign idea.

To conclude…

If you want a job in advertising, more important than your book, brand, style and ability to write witty lines, is that you are you going to make more money for the company than it costs for them to employ you. By learning the points above, inside out, you’re getting closer to the level you’ll need to be at to prove that you can be of value to an agency. Agencies invest in people. The things that will prove to them that you’re worth hiring are really only three things.

  1. Do you fit in with the company culture?
  2. Are you likeable?
  3. Can you walk in, without stabilisers, and hit the ground running?

Provide the evidence that you meet these three criteria and you’re off to the races. Lastly, there will be times when you get briefs with no creative limitations and you can be as wacky and as loose about your strategy as you want. But the rest of time, you’ve got a job to do. And unfortunately, that job is to sell stuff to people. You’re ability to do this in an interesting and novel way is what will define your career. The sooner you get to grips with the inevitable pitfalls we all fall into, the more you can concentrate on having great ideas, getting your ideas made and becoming successful in the process.

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