How to Present Like Don Draper & Win Your Next Pitch

How to Present Like Don Draper & Win Your Next Pitch

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We all know how important the pitch is. You have done your research, generated fantastic design concepts and now all that’s left to do is to share your presentation, with potential clients.

Pitching is a never-ending learning experience and there is no particular formula or template of how to conduct the perfect pitch, especially in the creative industry of graphic design. However while there is no perfect pitch, there are ways of shaking things up a bit.

So the concept I’m about to pitch to you is, why you should be pitching just two ideas to clients.

Let’s start by talking about one of the masters of pitching, Mad Men’s, Don Draper.

What we can learn from Don Draper.

So what exactly can we learn from Don Draper about pitching?

You may not be pitching ads, but there are a few tricks you can pick up to improve your own pitching experience.

Appealing to emotion is the key to success

One of Draper’s strong points is his ability to appeal to the desires of his audience. Consider this your secret weapon. You have the creativity for success, however you need to ensure that the audience is convinced.

Having an extra pitch means the ability to address a wider range of these emotional desires, however don’t pitch irrelevant design ideas. Potential clients already have a pretty good idea of what they want in graphic design projects, so make sure you do the research first and during the planning stages keep their emotions in mind.

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Sometimes things don’t go to plan

You never know which direction a pitch could go, so it’s always important to stay a few steps ahead of your clients at all times. Although Draper had his fair share of reject and set-backs, this wasn’t a dampener on his pitching ability. He himself once said:

“Fear stimulates my imagination.”

One important lesson he teaches us is the importance of the ability to be a little bit dynamic. Initial rejection doesn’t mean failure, it just means you have to rethink the idea you’re pitching. Don’t be afraid to try again, and learn from experience.

You must be engaging

Draper teaches us to be engaging. Introduce yourself first, let them get to know you for at least a few seconds, and make sure they stay interested. How do you achieve this? By being confident, upbeat, and feeling good about yourself.

How can you apply these lessons to your pitches?

Here are some things to consider when you decide to pitch two ideas:

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Don Draper

You want options… but not too many options.

People love having options. Putting in extra effort beyond expectations can be a strong point in your pitching strategy. With an extra pitch you can address more issues on the client’s agenda and consequently put yourself in a position of extra opportunity.

You need to appeal to your clients, and having options spread out in front of them can be a refreshing and exciting experience to a wary audience.

Just don’t go overboard, any more than two ideas might be a little bit too much to handle. Focus your important ideas and don’t get distracted by ideas that are irrelevant.

You don’t have to mess up your pacing

During a pitch, it’s extremely important to pace yourself. You need time to give your careful analysis of the issues you’re addressing without rushing into the solution straight away. This doesn’t mean you should drag it out, but it is important to give them time to value you and believe you.

Adding an extra idea to pitch is an extra opportunity which shouldn’t interrupt your pacing. You should be able to plan for an additional pitch, however any more than two might prove to make it a little crowded.

Too many options can be overwhelming and can alleviate from your purpose. You have limited opportunity to maintain your audience’s attention and it’s extremely important not to lose it.

Having a backup/alternative plan is a good idea

When doing a pitch, you want to stay a few steps ahead of your clients at all times. Not to say that the second idea should always be a backup plan, however having two ideas at the ready could increase your chance of positive results. They could complement each other, or act as a backup, whichever way the pitch goes.

While sometimes rejection is just a fact of life, there’s no harm in increasing your chances of success.

Your skills are on solid display

When thinking about graphic design, pitching more than one idea also lays out your work in an impressive portfolio. In a visual industry, sometimes looks can be everything, and you want to show as much of your work as possible. You show that you have a vast skillset and you are a creative thinker, what better way to ace a pitch than by simply highlighting your best?

Be enthusiastic, and leave them curious

Nothing is more engaging than (a reasonable amount) of enthusiasm. You want to give your clients an idea that: “I have so many great ideas, but here are two to get you started.” This is not only a great way to keep the pitch interesting, it also leaves them wondering: what’s next?

It’s a personal challenge

You should always be open to opportunities for personal development, and if you’ve never pitched two ideas before, then there’s no better reason to jump right in and take it for a spin during your next design pitch.

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1 thought on “How to Present Like Don Draper & Win Your Next Pitch”

  1. Hey Jacob,

    Great information provided.
    An excellent and descriptive post along with all the important links given.

    Happy to read a good post after much time.


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