Pitch Theatre: It’s Show Business Darling

by Jan 16, 2014
Pitch theatre

“Every new business pitch should do three things: inform, educate and above all: entertain.” Steve Jobs.

On my first day at my first job in New Business I was asked “Please can you go to Burger King and order the entire menu?”. It took me a while to get my head around it: either the team was starving or there was something else at play. When I asked why, my boss simply replied: “Pitch theatre”, then started laughing. I thought I had been subjected to a new girl practical joke until she added “Oh, while you’re there, do you think you can steal some trays, posters and you know, some Burger King accessories?”.

So that’s what I did.

Now that I’m well and truly au fait with the new biz game I understand why I arrived back at the office with 15 Whoppers, 12 Chicken Dippers and a smorgasbord of sauces: we were turning our reception into a Burger King restaurant, all in the name of pitch theatre.

Pitch theatre may sound ludicrous to some, but in the world I work in it’s actually really important. Presentations are 20% what you say and 80% how you say it – and this is where pitch theatre comes into play. It needs to be carefully thought-out, fun, and above all: creative – pitching is a performance, not a presentation.

One of my favourite examples is the train company who arrived at an agency’s reception only to be treated appallingly, made to wait, offered cold coffee in dirty cups and ignored by the receptionist when they complained. Then the pitch team appeared and told them that this is how their customers see their service, and that the agency was going to sort that out. A risky move, yes, but my god it certainly caught their attention.

Pitch theatre is an opportunity for agencies to show their personality, an important factor when a company is deciding who they want to enter a working partnership with. It’s also worth bearing in mind that clients see the pitch process as exhausting and stressful, so the last thing they want to be faced with is a dull agency who bores their socks off in a pitch.

The right pitch theatre ultimately needs to work with your strategy, but you also need to be aware of the smaller things: like the food you offer (cater for all and make sure it’s not hard to eat), the clients’ journey through the agency to the meeting room (is it clean? Have you made sure it’ll be full of people beavering away at that 8.30am pitch?), and are you showing-off the agency’s personality (when they’ve seen 4 or 5 pitches and everything’s a blur, how will they remember which was your pitch/office/team?).

Make sure you take advantage of every opportunity to show that you a) understand their brand (of course!) and b) are the people/agency they’re desperate to work with. Remember, pitching is not about showing how quickly your agency can become a clone of the client, it’s about showing you’ve got what it takes to be the right partner.

Words by – VT

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About Vanessa Toby

Vanessa is a keen traveller with no sense of direction. She has an insatiable love of fashion and a spare room full of shoes she has hoarded over the years. If Vanessa isn’t taking over the New Business world at work, you will find her trying out your new favourite exercise class. As a strong believer in the importance of a healthy work-life balance you will find her documenting mind and body advice and top tips.