How to refine your pitch to land a new client
To be a digital marketing entrepreneur, we’re constantly putting ourselves out there. We must accept that pitching is our fate to retain clients and to grow business. As small businesses, we have to push that much harder to prove that working with small businesses offers more than large digital marketing firms.
The art of pitching is refined over time. Recently, I went into an interview for a potential client that has sparked this blog on effective pitching for the digital marketing entrepreneur. My normal ‘MO’ is to arrive early as I was taught by the late Sheldon Patinkin,
“To be early is on time, to be on time is late, and if you’re late, don’t bother to show up.”
Upon arrival, I realized the quaint, freshly-painted restaurant would be our pitching room as my potential client was currently in mid-pitch with my apparent competition. I “checked in” at the register and waited just tables away for my 5PM meeting.
The following pitch etiquette directly relates to the pitch I overheard, specifically how to hone in on a more refined approach:
Cut Out the ‘101’ Speech
Unless we are directly consulting a client (which you should receive compensation for), explaining each social media channel to people who are likely familiar with social media is a major waste of time. While watching my scheduled pitch time pass by, I “socially listened” to this pitch go through the gambit - explaining each channel, their function, purpose, how-to use, how they’ll use…. I was exhausted for the lead and for the person pitching. What was seemingly supposed to be a half hour pitch quickly turned into an hour, which leads me to…
Stick to the Time Frame of Your Meeting
I will admit, this is more of a pet peeve of mine - I do not hold this particular pitcher responsible. However, our time as founders and entrepreneurs is just as valuable as a salary-paid social media specialist. In fact, I would argue that our time is more valuable as time is money for us entrepreneurs. Each hour I am pitching and writing proposals requires additional time to focus on my current client accounts.
If your meeting is scheduled for a half hour, stick to the designated time frame. There is nothing more disheartening than laying it all out on the line, feeling super confident because your pitch was saturated with information and then receiving an email indicating they decided to go with a different creative. Provide your expertise through the work you’ve done with your current clientele.
Prepare Losses Turned Successes
In every recent pitch, the potential lead inquired about success stories and less successful campaigns. I know it is hard to admit defeat, but basic ‘Pitching 101’ is to spin that failed sucker into a positive.
“What is a trait of yours that could be improved upon?”
“I am a perfectionist which often causes me to work longer on a project than most…”
Describing a loss gives you an opportunity to tell the potential lead what you learned during implementation. It is not an admission of defeat, rather, a time you learned something and applied it to a more successful campaign. Persistence over perfection.
NEVER Make Promises Unless Proven
As 5:15 rolled around, the pitch turned to virality. It’s one thing for the potential client to express a desire for viral content, it’s another when you say YOU CAN MAKE VIRAL CONTENT.
The nature of viral content is that it doesn’t require ad spend and that it picks up momentum naturally. When I hear “viral” from potential prospects, I tend to diffuse that direction of conversation fairly quickly. If we as marketers promise virality, 50,000+ followers or even more website traffic, we’re ensuring our demise down the line.
Take note of their interest and ask, when appropriate, what their ad spending budget is. If they want 5 million hits on a $100/month budget, you will need to quell their desires AFTER you win the client over with the proof you are good for the job.
End With “I Want Your Business”
All potential clients want to be desired. You talked a good game, you know you’re more than qualified, now tell them that you want this position; if it’s the truth. (I don’t condone dishonesty).
Let the client know, during your goodbyes, that you’re qualified, capable, and want to work with them. This directness gives you the upper hand in their deliberations about potential prospects. And, of course, follow up with an email thanking them for inviting you to discuss their marketing needs.
In truth, there is no right formula for pitching.
As marketers, we must read the room, understand the goals for their business, and anticipate negotiations for the digital marketing budget. Continue to refine your pitch and you’ll see its benefits in the long run.