May’s talk on #modernwaystogrowanagency came from Dave Parkinson - a 26 year veteran of Nissan and digital - from IT Manager to EMEA Head of Digital.  From managing a digital transformation to initiating the social media plan (and launching the Qashqai on the way) Dave knows the brand person’s world. So what are they really thinking at pitch time?

Since the word 'digital' crept into marketers vocabulary the gap between doing a digital project and actually becoming a digital business started to form, and brands and agencies have debated how business strategy can and should link to digital plans.  From inside and outside a brand it can be difficult to understand what the appetite and indeed capacity to be a fast paced digital business is. Ask yourself this, if your favourite retailer is so fast moving and digitally nimble - why don’t they have contactless payment in their shops yet?

Here are Dave’s key insights into how a brand person judges your pitch:


  • Brands have a 5 year plan but marketers have a 12 month budget. That budget is requested once a year and can be cut at any time.  Having an understanding of where a brand is in its cycle should guide your conversation. 


  • It’s age old to say that ‘people buy people’ so appreciating both the business objectives and the personalities of the people in the room will contribute to the success of the conversation. Know about any highs or lows the company’s marketing team have had recently, but before telling them where they went wrong remember the people in the room probably signed off on what you’re about to rubbish.
  • Remember everyone in a brand moves role every 2 – 3 years so they’re generalists not specialists. Appreciate the knowledge they have across the board and bring them specialists who will impress.
  • Expect that they may have researched you too, does your digital profile stand up to the scrutiny of a digital marketer?


  • Brands have a lot of politics. Right down to where people sit and who you have to ask to get something done. It’s always worth checking what politics might prevent the pitch you’ve been asked to take part in – are you really going to be allowed to beat their global incumbent however great your single market idea is.


  • It’s not just budget that changes over the year, with so many job moves the team you’re working with/ pitching to/ have just been hired by, might change. Be prepared and ask the right questions to ensure you’re talking to the right people.


  • We, as agencies, need to fix brands problems. Often that’s a business problem, a specific long term objective, but it might be that your brand person needs a quick win to show their boss. Do what it takes, but be honest about why you’re all doing something.

So Dave, we’ve considered all that – what are your top tips for falling at the final hurdle, or getting this project over the line:

 Bad ideas

  • Putting the clients picture in an idea for an Instagram post
  • Free lunches 
  • Presents - most people can’t accept them anyway!

 Good tricks

  • Honesty - we've looked at what you asked for and we think you need this
  • Simplicity - this answers your need, and we can explain it succinctly
  • The right people - Don't put a sales person in if they can't bring something to the party
  • Practice - Know your pitch timings, who is saying what and when, and what's the story, then prepare for questions

 Understand and remove the barriers to buying and your brand person will buy.

Find Out More Here!

Originally published Jul 20, 2017 6:34:14 AM, updated July 20 2017


Business Pitches