How I plan to benefit from a lost pitch

A question from Quora was sent to me to answer. And it demonstrates so neatly why many new business people get discouraged by apparent failures. My answer shows how to play the “advantage” card from a disappointment and position yourself for future success while gaining valuable business experience from the situation.

My business partner’s dad/investors asked for a pitch, to which he said no after a while, but still plans to use some of the ideas. What can I do?

I told her this idea I had for a concept store that she just shared with her Dad who offered to invest/add it to his Group. After talking a few weeks ago, he just sent us a decline letter, but she says he & his partners may still use some of my ideas. I’m lost… and she doesn’t care.. What can I do ?

How to benefit from a failed pitch

Write back to each person, individually, thanking them very much for their time in hearing your pitch. Be sure that they understand how much of the pitch was your concept/idea. Say you’re sorry that they have decided not to progress working with you at this time.

Tell them that if they use your ideas in future you will be keen to

a) work on the project, or
b) receive a commission payment to reflect your intellectual capital investment

Tell them that this is only one of many bright ideas you have to contribute to their businesses and ask for an introduction to two other people who might be keen to work with someone of your talents.

Four days later, follow up with a phone call to each one to check they got your email and to ask for the introductions.

The outcome will be that you will probably not get any money from a) or b). But the introductions you receive will give you entry into a new circle of prospective employers and clients.

Why this works

The psychology of getting them to acknowledge your contribution (which they may use in future without paying) provokes the principle of reciprocity. You gave them something of value and now you are asking for something of value in return (introductions).

The follow-up shows that you are more determined than most (e.g. your business partner) and therefore are “one to watch” for the future who may benefit them again.

Lastly, in future don’t share your ideas with your business partner again without first gaining agreement about how they are to be used and valued.

ModComs pitch pack video

B2B video brochure – cool sales tool

Matt O’Neill is the Managing Director of ModComms – a company that produces The Pitch Pack, he sent us this neat video pack which business to business marketers

ModComs pitch pack video

ModComs pitch pack video

can use to open new leads.

How does PitchPack work?

The pack is a bit like a card brochure – you open it that triggers a magnetic switch which opens the power – a logo displays for a second while it warms up and then the first video plays

A typical pack has 4 videos – they come with volume controls and the larger packs have more videos on them.  Al the components are built in – from batteries, speakers to CPU.

They are encoded to Xvid format – the reason to use a specific codec is that it is lower file size with max picture quality.  A standard has 256 mg memory of which 170 is usable the rest is operating system.  so it gives about 17 minutes of video playback.

Finish watching, close it like a book and that switches it off.

In the spine there’s a little USB port you can charge the battery and uploading the videos.

If a client wants to use it the production process is firstly to design the outer pack – card wrap – using a standard Adobe Illustrator template.  The videos have to be produced and then you have all the assets.  These are sent digitally to China.  The factory sends back a prototype in digital print (not litho).  Sometimes there are small amends, it is signed off for manufacture and production.

One thing is critical is quality assurance with Chinese factories -we include two rounds of this – locally it’s checked in Shenzen and then it’s sent out and we check a few samples too.  Then we dispatch – sometimes it’s a bulk delivery, other times we do the fulfilment individually.

As part of the marketing it’s important that the telesales follow up to fix the meetings.

What types of Business use PitchPack?

It’s any B2B organisation providing a higher value product or service.  Tech companies like it, hotels, consultancies, engineering groups and some internal comms – high level changes across global senior teams.

Integration wit the sales funnel – the clients using account based marketing principles.  Some use it for the ‘door opener’ – grab attention of a senior decision maker.  It’s critical to have a structured follow up process.  Or use it as a leave-behind or a send-after to answer questions.  Salesman can film themselves on a mobile phone giving the answers and then include other videos too.  Those companies that are a bit more sophisticated and using lead scoring, for example, the score triggers sending a pack.

Personalisation – we are used to it with paper mail, but when you show the recipient that there’s an introduction just addressed to them – it’s flattering.  Anecdotally we hear it is very powerful.

Results – using a campaign with a global software company – we did a small run of 250 packs of which 240 were distributed.  They got 23 meetings with decision makers and they’ve got 4 deals with an average value of GBP250k each.  That campaign cost 5k on the packs themselves, 7k producing one video and re-used another couple of videos.  Total campaign cost 16k.

Why should our readers try the service?

Video is growing – mobile traffic about 50-70% of mobile traffic is video now.  Cisco predicts that 1/5 of the world’s population will access video online by 2016.

As a medium, video creates feelings of trust and so when brands use real people or show people doing real things curiosity is triggered.  When making video for marketing purposes don’t put everything in.  Leave them wanting more.

Confidence in the brand is built and sometimes amusement.  If you can make video for business funny you will have next to no competition because there’s so little out there.

With that popularity it’s a blessing and a curse – the competition will only get more furious.

Marshall Mcluan said the medium is the message in 60s and these packs are both – it allows people to explore video in their own time in their own way wherever they happen to be.

This is an easy differentiation tool – stand out from the crowd.  I remember in 2005 there were personalised USB sticks but now these are ubiquitous.  This type of marketing tactic is now at its 2005 moment but in 3-5 years it’ll be old hat.

If you are producing video for the pack, the content can be re-used across other media – home page, landing pages, powerpoint, email-able files.  The results are pretty tangible – looking at it in pure numbers.

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A Closer Look at Agency Search Firms – The Future Factory

This blog post series looks in depth at firms from our List of Agency Search Firms. These are businesses who help to match brands with agencies, while helping those agencies handle pitches and get meetings. You’ll learn exactly what agency search firms do, the different services offered and what your agency needs to look for in a search firm.

The Future Factory profile

This week we’re looking at The Future Factory, a London based cold calling firm. The Future Factory aims to create leads for agencies listed with them by calling up potential clients and offering services on their behalf. The most interesting thing about The Future Factory is their hands on approach to their clients and business in general. They opt to work so close to the client, even spending several days in their offices, to really understand the agencies they work with. In doing so they then fully understand the best approach to take when cold calling for them and it develops quite a close relationship.

The Future Factory

The Future Factory

They offer:

  • Cold calling work search services for agencies.
  • Relationships management services for agencies.
  • Provide brand research and feedback for agencies.

Services for Agencies

By spending 8 days per month, half of that time in the agency’s offices, The Future Factory get clients for agencies by cold calling potential brands. They research these brands and develop relationships with them.

Before this is undertaken however they go through a rigorous understanding process whereby they get to know the agencies business and core principles. They also pass on all information about brands they get work from to their agencies and make sure they are well prepared for the meeting. In this way The Future Factory double as a relationship building firm.

Services for Brands

The Future Factory provides no services to brands directly. Rather they research what services they could provide brands and call up those brands based on a set of unknown criteria.

Charges and Fees

Monthly membership subscriptions are the only apparent payment The Future Factory takes. They decide total monthly costs based on meeting and negotiation (this may be fixed for every agency but it is unclear). These fees may possible be extended each time they win work for their clients but again this is unclear.

Key members of staff – from Linked In

Who is The Future Factory right for?

Agencies who like a hands on approach to client work will find The Future Factory to be greatly accommodating. They work closely with their clients and their testimonials suggest they regularly bring in work. They also benefit those agencies not wanting to get in too deep with an agency search firm through the monthly subscription service, meaning you can cancel any month if it’s not working out.

The risks seem low and the potential rewards seem high, so working with The Future Factory could be a good way to test the waters for newer agencies. If your relationship procurement and development skills are high as an agency though, you might want to go for more of a listing service so you have a greater presence online.

Shortcomings

No listings, only calls – With no listing or extra exposure, The Future Factory is only good for bringing in clients directly. This means if you are already a star agency at procuring and developing relationships then they may not do too much for you. If you’re looking for a greater online presence, better go with a company that  lists your on their website for seeking brands to find.

For a full list of companies in this blog post series, click through to the

Agency Search Firms Listly

A Closer Look at Agency Search Firms – Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA)

This blog post series looks in depth at firms from our List of Agency Search Firms. These are businesses who help to match brands with agencies, while helping those agencies handle pitches and get meetings. You’ll learn exactly what agency search firms do, the different services offered and what your agency needs to look for in a search firm.

For this week we’re looking at the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA), an agency search firm concerning all things PR related. They do this by providing paying members (agencies) with industry data and helping them network with prospective clients.

PRCA

PRCA

They offer:

  • Agency search services where prospective clients can search through agencies listed with PRCA.

  • Offer data to paid agency members to further define their field of work and help them adapt to their environment as a company.

  • Networking opportunities, events and page listings for paid agency members to be found by prospective clients.

  • Training and qualification services aim to support practitioners in achieving their professional goals.

  • Mandatory communications management audits for agencies becoming members of PRCA.

Services for Agencies

Agencies can sign up to become a member of PRCA to gain access to a wide variety of benefits. Aside from being placed on the PRCA website to be found by clients, PRCA also help agencies train up for proposals and provide them with opportunities to network. One way they do this is by putting on various events where both agencies and prospective clients are encouraged to attend. PRCA take it one step even further by providing agencies background information and updates on the PR industry.

Services for Brands

If you’re a brand looking for an agency, PRCA provides many opportunities for you to have face time with a range of agencies and better understand what it is they do. Outside of having an agency search engine for brands on their website, brands are openly encouraged to attend meetings and events filled with agencies ready to strut their stuff. An example of this would be the “Hill + Knowlton strategies meeting” inviting senior experts from across the PR industry to speak on various topics.

Charges and Fees

PRCA runs a membership model where agencies pay on a regular basis to take advantage of a full range of services. These come at multiple levels of annual memberships for multiple type of agencies including::

  • Individuals

  • Regulation and registration

  • Students

  • Freelancers

  • Consultancies

  • In-house

  • International agencies

Key members of staff

Who is PRCA right for?

PRCA are an all inclusive package for public relations agencies to improve their skills and gain client work. Training provided by PRCA may be more or less helpful depending on the agency undergoing that training but offers that as a strong incentive to be involved as a member. Their offerings are perfect for an agency to get in, learn some skills, make a few clients and then leave if they so choose. Being membership based makes it flexible for an agency to move in and out of their system so it’s easy to test the waters and be involved in several of their events and courses early on in a working relationship with them.

Shortcomings

Hands on appraoch – Their entire search and development system is more face to face and hands on, rather than a single easy to use and searchable presence for an agency. This could be a blessing as getting clients to interact with an agency is often what they are after.
On the other hand though it does mean an agency spends much more time out of the office and engaging with prospective clients rather than working on current ones while waiting for their presence on the website to bring in more.

PR focus – PRCA focus on public relationship management service agencies first and foremost, rather than the entire range of marketing agencies out there. So if you’re looking for an great all inclusive services agency, but aren’t quite as focused on PR as you are other marketing activities, this may not be the search agency for you.

For a full list of companies in this blog post series, click through to the Agency Search Firms Listly

New business development copywriting: Stalled prospects

September is the time business gets down to work after the summer break.  Blair Enns at the Win Without Pitching team say this is the perfect time to clean out your list of prospects and new business opportunities.

Find out which ones are going to buy and which aren’t worth your time chasing further.  Blair writes

Below is a simple email template that you can use to raise deals from the dead. It works throughout the year but this week, more than any other period in the calendar, is when it works best.

THE EMAIL

It was taught to me as The Takeaway but I refer to it by the subject line that I prefer: Closing The Loop. Draft it, modify it if you dare, but send it to all those prospects you were talking to over the summer about real projects only for them to disappear on you. That’s the intended purpose of this email – to raise deals from the dead and solicit a response from someone who has been avoiding you over the summer.

Your natural inclination is probably to do the opposite of what I’m about to suggest. Resist. Do not send an overly polite email. Do not make excuses for your prospect’s behaviour over the last few weeks. Do not email in pursuit of a yes or even an answer. No, your mission is to strip away all emotions and matter-of-factly just let your prospect go. Below is how to do this and then what to expect afterwards.

Ready?

Read the detailed email Blair recommends

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A Closer Look at Agency Search Firms – Trinity P3

This blog post series looks in depth at firms from our List of Agency Search Firms. These are businesses who help to match brands with agencies, while helping those agencies handle pitches and get meetings. You’ll learn exactly what agency search firms do, the different services offered and what your agency needs to look for in a search firm.

This week we’re taking a look at Trinity P3, a firm that focuses specifically on aiding marketers and agencies find work. Trinity P3 work very closely with their clients. Instead of working through lists that agencies and brands can search, they specifically communicate to the right people to match agencies and brands together. Throughout this process they help their clients manage themselves and their connections.

Trinity P3

Trinity P3 at www.trinityp3.com/

They offer:

  • Brand resource acquisition and allocation services

  • Agency benchmarking and assessment services

  • Environmental company alignment services

  • Agency search and selection services for brands

  • Budgeting services for both brands and agencies

Services for Agencies

With Trinity P3, agencies get matched with brands and can have their company processes assessed and improved. In addition to budgeting, benchmarking and company stats tracking, Trinity P3 also offers agencies an assessment on their environmental impact as a company.

Services for Brands

With agency search and selection services (including agency assessments) and resource acquisition and allocation, Trinity P3 are an all inclusive package company for finding the right agency for a given brand. They also offer budgeting services for brands on their work. Like agencies, brands can also have their work processes reviewed and revamped by Trinity P3. They also receive the same offerings for their environmental impact that Trinity P3 offers agencies.

Charges and fees

Trinity P3 charges clients (both agencies and brands) on a case by case basis and every service they offer on their website comes with a description accompanied by a link to submit a request for a proposal.

Key members of staff

Who is Trinity P3 right for?

Trinity P3 works closely with their clients by maintaining communications rather than using menus and forms. This means they establish a close connection with you as a client and help you with more than just project management and project acquisition or deployment. Trinity P3 offers a good range of services for connecting companies to the marketing industry, suggesting they are appropriate for clients just starting out.

Shortcomings

Few contact free services – The only way to interact with Trinity P3 and their services is through direct messaging of general contact or for proposals.

Difficult to compare agencies as a brand who is searching – They do not have a detailed list of firms and contacts available to you for your assessment outside of directly messaging them. This makes search and selection difficult although still possible as they have links to their contacts so you can assess them individually.

For a full list of companies in this blog post series, click through to the Agency Search Firms Listly

Xero Marketing: a pitch & a critique

Xero is a hugely popular cloud accounts package that has taken much of the Intuit QuickBooks and MYOB business from SMEs worldwide.

Image representing Xero as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

Prompted by an article in Forbes about in-house marketing teams versus external agency use, I remembered a pitch we sent off to Xero.
As a customer of Xero and as a marketer, the things I think are lacking or could be enhanced primarily relate to the ease of re-using content and proactively driving it out to the right audience.
B2B comms for existing customers, in a nutshell.
Since Xero is growing internationally, they increasingly have separate user groups who should be communicated to differently – because they need different things from Xero.

Marketing suggestions – I have lots more….

  1. After signing up, there’s nothing to drive me deeper into using the higher features of your products, unless I search.
  2. Apart from support issues and feature requests, what are the useful things you could be communicating with my business [clues – finding support, accountancy advice, higher level feature uses, plug ins, apps developers, tax questions, work-rounds for bug fixes]
  3. How could Xero be leveraging existing customers to drive improved new business and new trial accounts using member-get-member referrals and other incentives?
  4. Autoresponders – for new users within the trial period and for first few months of use  – Xero could have a ‘guide’ much like Kiwibank‘s “Becky” who is there for the user, who acts as a signpost to helpful information inside your knowledge base, who helps check they’ve got the system set up properly.
  5. Why are you using FeedBurner to distribute your RSS feed from the blog?  It’s unsupported and you could be leveraging the channel for marketing messages to your active users in order to drive deeper brand engagement and possibly sales (see 2,3,4 above).
  6. Split out your blog into separate streams so that articles automatically send to different groups (e.g. developers and accountants, US versus NZ) Each would get articles designed for that audiences.  Create separate news feeds for different audiences, and further use them to drive marcoms to support your business growth goals
  7. The more you blog, the bigger your archive.  Readers rarely dive very deep and yet there’s probably heaps of helpful content which is being ignored.  Could they be created into “tip sheets”, e-books, training manuals and other support material? These content solutions can be supporting 1, 2 and 4 above.

As Forbes says, it’s great to be an in-house agency – but lifting your head above the parapet and seeking input and inspiration from an external agency team can be very beneficial.

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New business development copywriting – writing a chasing email

Message in a bottle.

Message in a bottle. (Photo credit: elvis_payne)

We’ve all been there – sent a message and  you’re not sure if they have read it, ignored it or whether it’s not arrived.  How do you politely write a follow up message that provokes action?

One of my cardinal rules in new business development is to remember this one thing

The prospect does not owe you their business – but they do owe you an answer.

So with that in mind, let’s set the scene.

You have invested time and effort in sending a crafted message or proposal over to a prospect – how do you follow up so that you don’t annoy them, what timeframes are appropriate, how can you ensure you are remembered – but not as a nagging irritant?

Why do prospects not answer?

There are many reasons but the main ones are

  1. your offer is not of interest, and not compelling enough to warrant a reply
  2. they are too busy doing other things

The first tends to relate to SEO companies sending spammy offers by email; the second is the one we need to laser in on – because it does not mean your offer is not of interest, it’s just not as pressing as other things at this time.

The aim of your follow up email is to filter out which one applies to you.

Writing Follow-up emails to prospects

Rule number 1 – keep it short.

Whatever you say, enable the reader to glance at two or three sentences and get your full message.

This is not an opportunity  to add to your earlier email content so don’t be tempted to re-iterate your pitch.

Rule number 2 – communicate the bare minimum

Remember we are trying to find out whether they are interested or not.

If they are interested – it could just be the timing is wrong… so your ultimate answer is ‘possibly’, in this case.

The message needs to say who you are; why you are chasing and a reminder of the services.

I always start with a summary of the situation in the email subject line.  So even if they don’t open it, they can see the context.

Following up on our meeting to discuss …………….

Creative Agency Secrets marketing proposal submission………

So, now to the body – here are three possible sentences for you to copy
Thank you very much for your time meeting yesterday.  The actions agreed were…..
 
We discussed your objective of  ………….The topics worthy of more investigation are………..
As agreed we sent you a proposal and could you confirm that you’ve received it?

Rule number 3 – write with grace and if you can, humour

Nagging may work with your spouse or children, but I think it’s bad behaviour in business.  You want to set the tone for your future relationship here and so getting off on the right foot is key.

Use phrases like “My recollection was….” or “I think we agreed that you would do….” So that you are reminding them without sounding hectoring.

Rule number 4 – give the recipient an easy get-out

Even if they don’t give you business today, you don’t want the prospect to write off your company as inappropriate for future projects.  And so thinking about how you can enable them to quit with grace is a good tactic.
Try this one where we were passed from the CEO to the Marketing Director
I waited on X and then emailed him directly.  Is it possible he doesn’t know what we discussed and that you, suggested we meet?
 
Don’t want to push if this is inappropriate, so could you give me some advice?
 See that last line?   Asking for advice is a great way for you to put the boot onto the other foot – get them to advise you on how to pitch their colleague.  I love this and use it quite a lot.  They know their firm and the characters better than you do.
Rule number 5 plan one, last, follow up after this one
The final, final thing to do is to then write a last message telling them that you won’t bother them again if they don’t reply but you would like them to confirm that they aren’t interested at this time.
This then allows them to write back saying ‘no’.  And for you to thank them and say that you’ll stay in touch.  This way the conversation ends and closes off the dialogue and you’ve got an answer rather than just a nothing void.
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Hire the right digital marketing agency – a guide

Here’s a great guide to how to find the best digital agency for your business brand needs.
Getting an organisation who matches your needs and is able to deliver to your brief takes time and careful analysis. Get yourself all the information you need in order to find the best agency and then you have to brief them well.

Writing an awesome creative brief is a challenge and one we can help you out with – even if we’re not doing the work for you. Getting the language and the articulation of your requirements correct will shortcut the selection process of finding the best digital marketing team for your needs.

Types of Digital Marketing Agency

Types of Digital Marketing Agency

 

Get the report from Search Engine Land – a Buyers guide to Digital Marketing Agencies 2013

 

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