The challenge of winning new business

There is quite a lot of new business buzz around at the moment for Bruce Marshall Associates (BMA PR). Last week I did a pitch in central London to a company that has recently opened a UK office. They face a very competitive market but have the benefit of definitely having one of the very best products in it. They just aren’t as big or high-profile as some of their competitors.

Yesterday I went to see a very different software company in North Yorkshire. Lots of companies claim to have developed something new and really exciting, but it very rarely is to anyone except themselves. Yesterday was different. I really do think that this product is something different and will be able to create a real buzz.

It’s too early to say if we’ll win either client. But both offer very different challenges and will need different PR and marcoms approaches in order to succeed. The ‘cookie-cutter’ approach to proposals where you simply change the name of the client and wheel out an old proposal just won’t work.

Unfortunately I’ve been in too many pitches where the ‘cookie-cutter’ approach has won. If you’re a client and you’re investing your hard-earned marketing budget into appointing a PR firm that will help you to manage one of your most valuable assets – your reputation – then sometimes you want reassurance. That’s why a big PR firm putting forward a ‘cookie-cutter’ PR proposal will win against a much better proposal from a much smaller or newer firm.

This isn’t meant to sound like sour grapes or envy. I’ve been on both ends. I’ve been at a larger PR firm and seen us put in a weak proposal that won. It wasn’t worth the extra effort to put in a decent proposal as we didn’t need the business. But we won it anyway. I’ve also put in brilliant proposals (in my humble opinion) and seen the account go to a bigger competitor who I know wouldn’t love and care for the client like we would have.

Another benefit of a smaller firm is that we can put forward a team that is actually built around the needs of the client. We don’t have a large payroll that we need to find work for. That means the consultants and freelances that we bring in to help are being used because they are the very best fit for the client, not simply because they already work for us.

Oh well, hopefully I’ll have some good news to report soon.