At Blue Moon, we love the challenge of conceptualising events from start to finish. To crack “the beautiful big idea” that’s brand-aligned and spot-on, strategically and tactically, you need to keep your wits about you in the brief and pitching stages. Blue Moon’s Events MD, Deana Heslop-Mthembu, shares her insights…
# Pitching is very hard!
Getting the right brief is essential, to ensure that time and energy is not wasted and that the objectives don’t get “lost in translation” through misinterpretation. You often need to read between the lines of a brief to find the hidden clues.
# Assumptions are dangerous
Your understanding of what the client needs and what they say they need are often different. So, don’t be afraid to ask the questions you need to ask at the outset – it’s the opposite of stupid. And you don’t want to pitch a theme or performer they’ve already had, in a venue they’ve already been to (if a change of venue is key in the brief).
# Context is vital
Establish exactly who the audience is and be absolutely clear on the main objective. This sets the context for all the brainstorming and concept development that follows. And it’s often best to remind the client of this departure point when you pitch your idea.
# Competition is fierce – and pitching is expensive
Don’t expect to be paid to pitch – but do expect to compete with up to eight other companies!
At the moment, there are no laws governing event pitches, and many event companies are struggling to survive. On average, a full event pitch costs R60k in creative, design and production time, plus hard costs. Couple that with the large number of companies you may be competing against, and you have a very challenging situation indeed. So we’re trying to get the industry together into a formal body to address these issues.
If you’re lucky, you can expect to win about 25% of your pitches – but remember that the ideas, research and knowledge gained in the pitching process will stand you in good stead for other events and pitches.
# There’s no accounting for personal taste
Personal style and preferences play a big part in the pitching process – a client might not see how your theme will come to life, because they don’t like your décor or food choices, or your proposed MC… So, when coming up with ideas for these, try to offer the client choices of venues, MCs, etc, and emphasise that they can be changed or adjusted and still bring your main idea to life.
# This industry is very small!
You’ll often bump into ex-colleagues, friends and freelancers when entering or exiting a pitch. Frequently, this is accompanied by lots of hugs, kisses and “Hey-how-the-hell-are-you’s?” Clients are often surprised by this, perhaps because they don’t know what a tight-knit industry we work in.
# Not all pitches are the same
Pitching for, say, the Metro FM Awards or the SAFTAS requires a lot of effort because they’re so detailed. You need to research and present case studies, put together project teams, address skills transference, submit procurement, safety and disaster management and project plans, and conceptualise pre-and post-parties as well as the main show! The cost of a pitch like this is closer to R70k to 100k, but the benefit – if you win the pitch – is that swift execution is possible.