A story came back to me in a flash today while I was helping clean my brother's car that he's putting up for sale. (old Renault Clio, 12 months MOT, several large scratches, 74k miles, £400 ono). About a year ago I went to see Rupert Howell, now Managing Director of ITV give a talk about his years as an ad-man. One thing he said stuck in my mind.
He was New Business Director at Y&R in the 1980s where they had a very successful new business technique that landed them many millions of pounds worth of new work from clients. For a while they were the no.1 agency in terms of new business won.
What was good was that if they learned from a potential client that their pitch was unsuccessful, he would take the feedback, and then say 'ah, such a shame, we had a whole route that would have met your thinking exactly'. Of course at this point the now ex-client-to-be would become interested. 'Perhaps we could come and present it to you tomorrow?'. Well that would be a wonderful idea. It goes without saying that at this point the other route did not yet exist, but they worked all night to get a new concept ready, to present the next day.
Bear in mind this wasn't just a one-off, but a strategy they employed for every unsuccessful pitch they were involved with. Quite a commitment from everyone involved in doing that, but it seemed to work. He said that of every pitch they would have lost, they subsequently converted 1/3. Not a bad ratio.