Stories are a perfect pitching device. Yet, despite the many agencies that declare themselves “brand storytellers”, they don’t always deploy that same skill on their behalf.
They get swallowed up by their own jargon or blindly grasp for the right words to describe the intangible qualities that make them different from their peers—with the ironic result that they end up sounding exactly the same.
If this applies to you, then I want to offer you a technique to use on your next pitch.
Recently, I came upon this interview with Seth Godin. In it, he and his interviewer, content marketing expert Sonia Simone, got to talking about implied stories.
Anyone who’s followed my posts for a while knows I’m a bit obsessed with storytelling and its role agency new business. The more I learn about the psychology of storytelling, the more convinced I am that it’s a secret weapon for converting prospects into new business leads.
But what about these implied stories? What are they and how should you be telling them? Read more.
Stories are engaging, memorable and repeatable—and this has big implications for winning over new clients. Wrapping your sales message in a story not only makes it easy for your prospects to understand your value, they’re also more likely to remember your message and repeat to others what they liked about you and why they want to hire you.
See the video.
Think about the number of agencies you’re aware of (including your own) that have a truly differentiated work process.
If you’re being honest, the answer is easy: not many. Whether it’s three steps or twenty-three steps, most agency work processes look the same. In fact, sometimes I think they’re more of an afterthought, something to be written up for an RFP response but rarely put into action in real life.
But Park Howell, founder of agency Park&Co., channeled his fascination for the power of storytelling (a fascination I happen to share) into a work process he calls the Story Cycle that's become an integral part of all his client engagements.
Finding Nemo, Toy Story, and the latest, Inside Out - why are Pixar films so universally charming and compelling? ("And what, exactly, does that have to do with my ad agency's positioning?" you ask. Patience, you'll find out.)
A former Pixar story artist named Emma Coats discovered that all Pixar plots follow one simple format. And it forms the basis of a perfect pitch.
Want to know what this magic formula is? Check out my latest blog post on how the Pixar Pitch is an ideal hack for developing your ad agency's positioning.
Almost universally, agency pitch teams hate to rehearse. But one of the many advantages is the freedom it gives you to read the room – instead of reading your notes (or worse yet, reading off your slides). The better you know your material, the easier it is to change course if you feel the attention of your audience slipping away.
This point hit home for me recently when I found myself confronted by a roomful of blank stares. My stomach dropped. What was I doing wrong? Find out -- and how I fixed it -- in my latest
The idea that storytelling is an important part of the sales process is nothing new (in fact, if you’d like to read more on the subject, I’ve included three good sources at the end of this post).
Successful advertising agencies tell stories all day everyday on behalf of their clients – great stories about brands that capture the imagination. Ironically, this skill often doesn’t get translated when the agency writes its own case studies. I’ve observed an almost contradictory tendency to say too much without ever really getting to the most important point. Here’s an example, paraphrased from countless case studies I’ve seen from my clients (names changes to protect the innocent):
If I ran the new business team at Carat, I know what I’d be doing today.
Last night, Adweek ran a great piece on questionable web traffic and it featured an anecdote about an analytics manager at Carat, Lindsay Buescher, who proactively went on a crusade on behalf of her client, Red Bull. She and her team spent three weeks digging up fraudulent sites and ended up blacklisting 77 of them.
This is a great example of client stewardship, something marketers routinely cite as the reason for putting their advertising accounts in review. If I were at Carat, I’d be thinking not only about how to include this very positive story in my credentials boilerplate, but which prospects would be most piqued by seeing this.