How to Lose New Business (but not your soul)
The previously mentioned new business hooplah unfortunately did not end well. This happens. Ego aside (I hate to lose), it was probably for the best given this particular client but nevertheless…I hate to lose. We got the news on a Saturday morning so I had all weekend and a bonus snow day to lick my wounds. And find comfort unexpectedly on the Starz channel, in a terrific documentary about Pixar.
I watched The Pixar Story through the lens of this new business failure, marvelling at how the studio succeeds again and again (sometimes against great odds) and gets back up again when they’re thrown a curveball.
Was amazed to learn that Toy Story 2 almost got trashed before John Lasseter and team stepped in and rescued it — essentially turning the whole production around and getting the film to market in eight months. Which is insane. I also am inspired to see that in fact, mastery and genius CAN be replicated in teams — Lasseter has done it (cf. Brad Bird and Andrew Stanton.) I am neither a master nor a genius but what I take away from this is a) you can get the crap kicked out of you and still come back with a big win and b) creativity and presentation “magic” must reside with more than one person on a team — and that the sum of a team is greater than its parts.
Speaking of crap-kicking, perhaps the biggest lesson I learned from our new biz miss was that you must never — EVER — go into a pitch being anything other than the agency you are. Do not hide your light under a bushel, as my mom used to say. Don’t apologize for anything — your size, your history, your client roster, your specialties. Be who you are, and you will win the right business.
And while it’s one thing to stretch and be courageous, it’s another thing to try to shoehorn yourself into the image of the agency you think the prospective client wants to see.
So. Who are we? We are mid-sized. Not a boutique, and not a big multi-office shop. We have a luxury heritage. An upmarket, style-informed sensibility informs everything we do, regardless of the category or distribution channel. We have a lot of big, iconic mass brands on our roster. Not niche brands, not cult brands. We do consumer PR really, REALLY well. We will not try to convince you that we do lobbying, investor relations or public affairs.
All of which is just fine. Great, in fact. We love our clients, and we love who we are. When we allow that to shine through, we tend to win new accounts. Good to remember this, and also very good to keep ego out of it because BOY is that not helpful. (Unless you’re an Oscar-winning Pixar director, maybe.)