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How Important is the Pitch?
By: Edwina Owens Elliott
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A Facebook friend hooked me up with another friend the other day, a project manager for a marketing firm in Chicago. They are currently pitching a PR campaign to a potential client and needed an illustration featuring the products’ brand ambassador at point-of-sale locations. I would design the actual costume that the ambassador/model offering samples to potential customers would wear. The product, a well-known brand of liquor, called for something elaborate, sexy, fun, and imaginative and I was very excited by the prospect of working on the campaign. The downside was that they needed pencil sketches by that same day and finished art for presentation to client by the following day. I had all of 36 hours to complete the project.
I gave him what I thought was a very fair fee, considering. He balked, saying that my price was a little steep for “just in pitch mode” and asked if it was negotiable. I assured him that it was and what did he have in mind? Needing to talk it over with his team, he asked me to “stand by.”
I’m still standing by.
This isn’t the first job I’ve lost in twenty-plus years because of my fee. But I must admit, this one came as a surprise. I’m certain he took a look at my book and saw what I was bringing to the table. And you know I checked them out online, too. On their site they appear successful, featuring several past PR events with a few recognizable celebrities and athletes in attendance. In other words, they should be quite familiar with professional design fees. But it was his attitude that threw me most of all. Referring to the assignment as "just in pitch mode" seemed like the surest way to lose the bid entirely.
Maybe I’ve been working independently for too long this time, but in my world it’s in pitch mode where you want to kick ass. You want to dazzle the client with ideas and visuals. Right? That’s how you snag the account. It’s the pitch that’s going to grab them and get them all jazzed up. Raring to work with you on their product. Right? So did y’all flip to another channel when I wasn’t looking? How does it work in your world? When it comes to either winning an account or choosing the firm to handle your account, what does it hinge on? The portfolio? The price? Or the pitch?

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About the Author

Edwina Owens Elliott is a graphic designer, art director, illustrator and owner of FASHION+ART, an e-commerce art gallery. She has a lifelong passion for fashion, art, writing, music, movies, books, theater, cooking, gardening, plotting and planning and dreaming big dreams. Find her online here and here.

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