In one of the industry’s most hotly-contested advertising accounts, dozens of agencies’ pitches were winnowed down to two contenders. In a surprising twist, MasterCard declared that the agency with the highest score in consumer testing would win. The heart-wrenching result: Our Priceless campaign did not test well. In an act of courage, and confidence, the MasterCard team awarded us the business anyway. When I asked Larry Flanagan, who went on to become MasterCard’s celebrated CMO, about their decision to award us the business for the Priceless campaign, he said, “We bonded because McCann Eriksson understood the deep desire of the MasterCard customer, but they understood MasterCard’s deep desire, too.”
We all make pitches every day — for that highly-prized account; to a client who’s reluctant to accept your scary proposal; for a skeptical CFO to loosen the purse strings; or for a wary new team to believe in you. Here’s what I’ve learned about winning pitches like these:
1. You need to understand that behind every decision lies a hidden agenda.
2. You need to do your emotional homework to find the hidden agenda.
3. You need to connect yourself to the hidden agenda.
4. You need to deliver like a litigator.