What goes into a pitch?

Written on Wednesday 19th October 2016

Who doesn’t love to pitch? It’s the lifeblood of any agency; it doesn’t just grow your business but also keeps your thinking fresh and current. Getting onto pitch lists can be tricky, but the more you do, the more you’re known. The more you win, the more in demand you are.

Receiving an invitation to pitch is always a thrilling moment for any agency. The moment the RFP hits our inbox, the excitement begins. Before any preparation or problem solving starts, it’s important to put your A-team together and who’s in that team always depends on the challenge at hand. The best team to work on a pharma marketing pitch includes an account handling supremo, a strategic mastermind, a scientific mega-brain, a copywriting genius, a creative impresario and an uber-organised pitch lead to pull everything together and make the magic happen. Once the right people are in a room, the real work begins.

Whether we’re being asked to launch the next blockbuster to a global audience or reposition a 25-year old brand, the first step is always the same: we read the brief. A lot. Most briefs include a vast amount of information and it’s critical to ensure nothing is overlooked. We then summarise the challenges and highlight the areas we need to research further.

Strategies, solutions and tactical plans need to be based on insights and understanding to succeed. Without this you could be on a road to nowhere. The insights come from many sources. Working with such an experienced team at LEC(an OPEN Health company) is a dream because between us we’ve worked in pretty much every disease area of the modern age. Extending that knowledge-gathering across the whole of OPEN Health leads to exponentially more information. This really helps to start informing the planning process. When we add in data, for example Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) or Real World Evidence (RWE), a situational analysis, Key Opinion Leader (KOL) and patient group research and a competitor landscape analysis, the strategic and creative juices really start flowing and it’s at this point we can start to brainstorm. 

Ten steps to pitch success
  1. Get on the pitch list
  2. Read the brief
  3. Read the brief again
  4. Discuss and confirm understanding of the task at hand as a team
  5. What do we know and what do we know we don’t know?
  6. Gather insights
  7. Develop the strategic and tactical approach to solve the problem
  8. Knock their socks off with the successful combination of science, messaging and creative
  9. Chemistry
  10. Deliver with aplomb!

The strategic approach tends to concentrate on simplifying the problem. Cutting through complexities to the nub of the challenge, before deciding the correct direction to take. It is generally at this stage that the milestones and goals become clear and a strategic plan starts to take shape. Once we understand the strategy, the campaign starts to come to life as we discuss the concepts and tactics that will ensure we achieve our goals.

Overlaying objectives and insights with strategy, experience and inspiration is our formula for success. The brainstorm always delivers inspiring ideas and nothing is considered too out-there before it is explored. We include an experienced digital and creative team in the brainstorm to ensure we can push the boundaries of design and technology. After the initial brainstorms the team have time to think and collaborate with our science and creative writers, allowing them to develop a range of thought-provoking concepts and insight-led tactics. The routes are narrowed down to focus on the one or two areas that show stand-out thinking and creative execution.

The next stage is putting together the pitch presentation. No mean feat to make it compelling, especially when you know your audience will have to sit through a number of presentations. Knowing your audience is imperative to delivering any great presentation and a pitch is no different. What is their background, what are their aims, who is the key decision-maker? Then on the presentation itself: how much time have you got? How much do they know about your company and why you’ve got a seat at the table? What’s the best way of presenting your understanding of the brief and your plan to overcome the challenges? How can you convey the complexities of the strategic plan in a simple way? How can you bring your ideas to life?

When the presentation you’ve created gives you goosebumps, you’re ready to rehearse. There is no substitute for practising what you’re going to say and how the presentation will flow. It’s a good idea to decide the timing of each part up front so everyone is clear how long they have. There’s also no point spending most of your allotted time discussing creative executions if the crux of the brief is to demonstrate your understanding of the science and how this will be conveyed through messaging.

If you’ve followed this process, by the time the pitch day comes around you’ll be well prepared and raring to go. The only thing left to master is the chemistry in the room. Be confident, be charming and be yourself, assured in the knowledge there is nothing more you could have done. Most of all enjoy it. Good luck!

For more information on perfect pitch technique and creative problem solving, please get in touch with Marie Little, Managing Director, LEC - MarieLittle@lec-health.com