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What Ad Agency Principals should learn from the RNC and the DNC Conventions?

September 24, 2012

I thought it was six days of how to make a great pitch.

I’m not really that political but I’m sure a fan of watching a good pitch. And, both the Republicans and the Democrats really put on clinics at their respective conventions. And to me, I couldn’t help but think of them as two shops standing up and pitching their wares to the same prospect.

First of all, they both knew their audiences very well, and I’m not talking about the groups in attendance. No, they were both after the same undecided voters.

Most of the speakers were incredibly well rehearsed and the best of them had fresh opening points, good cadence, plus memorable and motivating closings that had the crowds on their feet hysterically yelling and applauding. And each did a great job of illustrating the differences between them and their opponents. Now I’ve made some good presentations but never ending in yelling and applause. So, I do think we could learn from those speakers.

My first observation was their focus – most knew how to open, cover their unique selling points and close by asking for the order. How many of us approach a pitch with this level of conviction? Too many that I see are a lot more about what we’ve done for others and less about what we will do for the prospect before us.

I also noted how the really good speakers “gamed” their crowds. You could see them make one point with sincere resolve, than break into the next with humor. They pointed with crooked index fingers and pounded the podium with their fists. Then they would gesture with arms spread wide for acceptance and end by clutching their chests for empathy.

Most of us don’t have that level of showmanship to pull this off. But why not?

I attended a presentation (not a pitch) by Ernie Perich from Perich Advertising, Ann Arbor, Michigan some years ago. He told the story of writing on a white board in a pitch and he purposely spelled a word incorrectly. As rehearsed, another agency person with him pointed it out. Ernie looked back at the prospect and fell to the ground saying he was so embarrassed he couldn’t stand before the future client. Of course, it brought the house down and Ernie did go on to win the business – showmanship or “gaming” the crowd?

Now Ernie didn’t win because of his pranks. Perich won because he knew the prospect and its business, (he pasted butcher paper notes, stats and insights all over the client’s walls) he also knew what the prospect wanted – what’s in it for me? Then he made sure the client could clearly see Perich’s unique distinction, that they had the credentials, knowhow and passion to help the client grow his business and he won the day by breaking down the barriers with a humanizing antic like falling down on the floor – just like a good politician.

By Jim Hughes – founder, The Brand Establishment

About The Brand Establishment

The Brand Establishment perfected the first contemporary brand development process specifically for small to mid-sized advertisers more than two decades ago. These tools and procedures have been utilized by companies in virtually every business sector – hundreds of times.