Five insights on what makes a good pitch
20 February, 2018
Clients aren’t basing their decision to hire you on your portfolio of projects –they’re looking for a practice whose vision is a good fit with their goals. More than anything else, you need to show you can bring real value to their business. This is what our judges say
1 What is your USP?
Before you go into a pitch, spend some time thinking about your ‘unique selling point’ or what makes you different and then write down some of the results clients will experience if they hire you. As Roger Black, creative director of Ballymore says, a lot of practices merge into a boring sameness. “We’re getting hit by architects all the time so what’s your standout quality? Find the point of difference. There’s so much good work being done in London but it’s all the same. Be different in a crowded market place”.
2 Avoid clichés
Words like “ innovative”, “creative”, “holistic”, “committed” and “unique” are over-used so try and avoid them if you can. Radio producer Susan Marling told architects: “Don’t fall back on the well rehearsed thing that architects always say, ‘on time, on budget, attention to detail…’ how many times have we heard that? You have got to find a way of expressing your own USP,” she said. And remember, a pitch has to come from the heart rather than from a pre-prepared script.
3 Less is more
Don’t run through your entire portfolio. If you do, you’ll run out of time. Focus in on a few projects that create a simple narrative or theme, judges advise. While there is no optimal number of slides, more than 10 and you risk losing your audience. Fiona Scott, who gave a near perfect pitch, had just 7 slides and Mark Shaw, who won the last pitch, had six. “Concentrate on the key messages you need to get across” said David Hamilton of MRC
4 Set out your stall
Manage audience expectations by telling them in advance what you’re going to be covering and ideally, break this into no more than three broad themes and make sure you get to the end. If you are worried that you’ll run out of time get to the point in the first 40 seconds when you have everyone’s full attention and then use the rest of time to fill in the background.
5 Show how you add value
You are pitching to potential to clients who want to know what you’re going to do for them from the word go. “I want to know where you’re going to add value at the start,” said Grosvenor’s Alex Phillips. Charlie Green, founder of The Office Group applauded the architect who described himself as a ‘service business”. “ I love that…that’s all we want. We want someone to engage with us and provide a service”.