I have just come back from the IPA trade mission to Silicon Valley. There were about 20 of us on the trip and with UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), we were able to get in and meet very senior people at Facebook, Google, Twitter, LinkedIn and Zynga – to name a few. The thing that struck me, which I think is relevant to pitching, is the speed at which these companies move and the rate of change that they deal with on a daily basis. I will give you two quotes that I heard when I was there. One was, ‘Move fast and break things,’ which is Facebook’s motto. And one of the chief innovators at Google said, ‘Make sure that you have the right “it” before you make “it” right.’ I believe that both of those thoughts can be applied to pitching. There is a little too much time spent in thought land getting everything just so, while clients could decide very quickly if they saw ideas that look a bit more like the real thing. Agencies should not be afraid to show ideas that look finished, it really helps to ‘fake’ it sometimes. I have changed; in my early Saatchi days, we only showed one idea and only as a rough concept. So Silicon Valley was a big eye-opener for me and whilst I might be slightly guilty of bearing the impression of the last person who sat on me, it really was interesting to see how these fast-moving companies are testing their new ideas. There is a lot we can learn from that.

Written by Paul Bainsfair, Director General at the IPA

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