Whether you’re an agency pitching for a piece of business or a bag of cookies pitching for consumer eyeballs, most of us default to playing it safe.
We don’t want to offend.
We don’t want to show personality.
We don’t want to take risks.
We don’t want to be unique.
After all, what if we’re wrong?
Where it leaves us is right in line with everyone else who, as luck would have it, have chosen to do the same thing.
My good friend, mentor and co-founder of Sharpe Blackmore (which became Euro RSCG which became Havas), Tom Blackmore knew this. Before a pitch one day, Tom passed on this wisdom:
I’d rather be last than second.
I don’t know that a better line was ever spoken about the art of pitching.
If you finished second, you probably said all the safe things.
All the expected things.
You checked off all the boxes.
And gave your prospect all the rational reasons to choose you.
But they didn’t.
They didn’t choose you because you weren’t memorable enough for them to say, “They nailed it.”
They didn’t choose you because you didn’t cause an emotional reaction.
They didn’t choose you because you told them what they wanted to hear not what you wanted to tell them.
When you come in last, you still lose.
But you lose knowing that you went for it.
In some way, at some time, in some place, you will have a pitch today.
Swing for the fences.