14 June 2012
NXNEi: Designers should avoid 'sales speak' when pitching clients
That was a tip from Daniel Schutzsmith, creative director and co-founder of Mark & Phil, a marketing/fundraising agency based in New York.
Schutzsmith was leading a session entitled Strategies for Pitching New Clients at NXNE Interactive (in partnership with FITC) in Toronto. "The more sales speak, the less likely you'll get the project," he said frankly. "Keep it humble."
He said there are direct and indirect pitches; the first include presentations and written proposals, while the second is something "we do all the time … showing what you can do in a unique way with websites, marketing swag, and open source."
For presentations, one rule of thumb is 10/20/30 — meaning 10 slides in 20 minutes with 30-point fonts (it's even better if you can pitch in 10 minutes, added Schutzsmith). And it doesn't always have to be in a boardroom; he said Mark & Phil uses small projectors that can project images on the walls at a bar, for example. "It's also street cred, because of the cool little projector," he added.
And "don't just give them a Powerpoint presentation," he added. "Put it in HTML, or PDF, or send it to them as a hard copy."
Regarding proposals, "It's a black art that no one really understands," he said. "It's up to you what you put into it." (Click here for a sample proposal from Mark & Phil)
While proposals typically contain just text, Schutzsmith encourages designers to use graphics to showcase creativity along with a "quick, to-the-point cover letter." Also include information about next steps and who they should contact, he added.
For indirect pitching, give away your work, he said. One way is to create clothing with your graphic work to sell or hand out. Also, create a blog about your work "that could get picked up by the press," he added.
Make the "leave-behinds" exciting, don't just leave customers you're wooing a brochure, said Schutzsmith. He showed an example of a creative leave-behind, a pack of cards with project stats that emulates a pack of sports cards.
It doesn't hurt to build a "client wish-list," namely the clients you wish to work with, he said. For example, Mark & Phil only works with "causes and social entrepreneurs," he said. Along those lines, you can use Linkedin to find people you want to work with, "like a business directory" he added.
Here's a quick rundown of his tips for success:
- Don't lie, be real (you can embellish a little bit, but at the end of the day, if you lie big, chances are your client will find out)
- No sales speak — they can tell it's rehearsed
- Don't use old proposals, keep moving them forward as you evolve
- Stay consistent
- Show the possible ROI for the client
- Make time for pitching
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