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Perfecting the Pitch — Tips from Four Top Brands

Perfecting the Pitch — Tips from Four Top Brands

Corporate event marketers share their pitching dos and don’ts at C&IT Forum

Written by Brea Carter

Last week’s C&IT Agency Forum in London brought event professionals together to network and discuss a variety of industry relevant topics, including personal branding and social media, intellectual property (IP) protection, talent acquisition, and event technology.

To kick things off, a handful of top corporate marketers took to the stage to chat about what they expect from companies in the lead up to and during the pitch, plus practices that should be avoided. Panellists included Alison Williams, Head of Events at L’Oreal UK; Emma Chandisingh, Head of Events and Engagement at Roche; Sally Holt, Senior Project Manager at ITV Events; and Ashleigh Jackman, Vice President, Relationships & Events and Barclays Corporate & International.

The panellists provided corporate marketers with the chance to see how their peers approach the process, and also shared insights that can be applied to event agencies, suppliers, partners, and organisers.

Do Your Research, and Then Do Some More

The importance of thorough research came up again and again during the session. Panellists stressed that there is nothing more cringeworthy than when an event company that is pitching its work doesn’t understand the brand, or broader industry that it operates in.

Take a company like Roche — the pharmaceutical industry is subject to a range of conditions — for example, pharma brands aren’t allowed to host events at sporting venues. If a company includes one of these venues as a potential location to host an event in their pitch, it’s pretty much a given that they won’t be successful.   

Know the Brand Guidelines

It might sound simple, but panellists said they’ve often had companies pitch ideas with the wrong company logo or colours emblazoned across their Powerpoint slides. That said, don’t forget to refer to a company’s brand guidelines!

This is even more important if you’re working with a brand that is part of a wider company, or for a brand with different divisions. For example, the Barclaycard brand sits under the Barclays parent company, and the Barclays bank is also comprised of various different departments. Not only will each will have unique branding, they may also have markedly different objectives and target markets, and the pitching company will need a very different approach.

Take Advantage of ‘Chemistry Calls’

Sally Holt of ITV Events referred to ‘chemistry calls,’ which can be really effective in the early stages of the pitch process. Companies are encouraged to speak with the brand’s events team to get to know the nitty gritty details of the business, and deliver on the brief they’ve been given.

These calls are also a great time to raise any budget concerns. Rather than pitch an idea that is well over the brand’s budget, talk to the client during the chemistry calls and explain that the budget might be a little low, given the requirements outlined in the brief.   

Make the Most of Your Time with the Brand

The panel agreed that event companies should use the pitch to build rapport with the client. It’s so important to bring the team who will be potentially working on the event to the meeting, so that everyone involved can see how well they work together.

Don’t just run through your deck during the pitch. The panel suggested that presenters create two-way conversation with the client, and embrace their feedback. If you’re discussing something that the client says isn’t relevant to them, then simply skip through it.   

Don’t spend too much time on credentials — brands are already aware of your company’s skillset, which is why you’ve been invited to pitch. Instead, devote the bulk of your time to sharing your fabulous creative ideas instead.

Opt for Imagery Rather Than Words  

The panellists agreed that pitch documents should be full of engaging imagery rather than large chunks of text. Images are much better at bringing creative ideas to life, and allow for the client to visualise how the event will look and feel.

Don’t forget that in most cases, a brand’s events team will need to share companies’ creative ideas with its procurement and other teams, so that they buy into the idea, too. This is even more important when an idea is over budget and the client needs to prove its value to the wider company.  

Pitching is in a constant state of change, and determining a good versus poorly executed pitch can be subjective. The process continues to play an important role in the continued growth and development of all sub-sectors at play within the events industry — whether it be an agency introducing a new creative idea to a brand, supplier presenting its capabilities to an agency, or event organiser showcasing its capabilities to a potential new client. That said, companies that get the basics right, many of which have been mentioned here, will have a far greater chance at success.

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Photo Copyright:, Haymarket Media Group

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