The pitchbook paradox

As a banker, part of the job I always enjoyed the most was solving the problems brought to me by clients. A conversation would start my wheels turning: running through previous strategies; thinking about solutions used for other clients; finding ways to apply knowledge to build a case for an idea. To me, that’s the fun, challenging part of banking.

Creating the materials, scrubbing the data, adjusting chart layout and designs, that’s not so fun, but if it helps you pitch your idea and win the business, then it doesn’t feel like time lost. The thing is, many times pitchbooks aren’t quite hitting the nail on the head because the burden of content creation diverts attention away from thinking about ideas to thinking about pages. So, unfortunately, strategies aren’t given the time they deserve and, even worse, you know that the pitchbook you slide across the table to your client isn’t the best it could be.

This is the paradox of pitchbooks. Your most valuable asset is your strategic advice, yet the burden of pitchbook creation means it’s what you spend the least amount of time developing.

I asked a few of my former clients (mainly large cap CFOs and treasurers) for their thoughts on the current state of pitchbooks.

Too rushed

The problem:

Behemoth pitchbooks lead to meetings feeling rushed and not enough attention paid to the actual problem. Also, the clients I spoke to said that too often the truly interesting pages are rushed past due to time constraints.

How to solve it:

It’s easy enough to solve but requires a disciplined attitude toward creating a story. Culling pages goes a long way, but it’s also important that the presenting team agree in advance which pages are the most important and to spend a greater amount of time on them.

Too much filler

The problem:

Too many pitchbooks have pages that feel like they are there to check a box on a list and aren’t that relevant to the situation at hand. Clients said they would prefer an on-point, 20-page book with supplemental backup materials if needed (and by “needed” read kept in the laptop bag until asked for).

How to solve it:

Know the difference between what your client needs to hear and what you want to tell them and make sure the book focuses on the first. I also like to tee-up my supportive material with “leaders” (deliberately placed segues). This way, if something piques interest in the client you can share the additional information.

No flow

The problem:

If you don’t have control of your story, your client will sense it quickly. A thrown together pitchbook without a clear narrative feels jumbled and makes it hard for you to wind up to a strategy.

How to solve it:

Focus on storytelling. Assemble the materials quickly and then go through them in a comprehensive storyboarding exercise.

Not enough time

The problem:

This is the larger systemic problem of pitchbook creation. From the time you leave the initial meeting with the client or put down the phone after the initial call, the clock is ticking. Time becomes a fast depleting resource, and this lends itself to bankers robotically creating content that may not be needed instead of having the time to explore new ideas. All too often, the goal of the meeting becomes not providing the best strategic guidance possible, but getting through the pitchbook pages.

How to solve it:

As most junior bankers already work long hours, the only solution to a lack of time is to reduce the inefficiencies in pitchbook creation by leveraging technology that can streamline the content creation process without sacrificing detail, accuracy, or their own skill development.

If the content creation paradigm can be flipped from 90% of time spent on material creation to spending 90% of time on ideation, we’d be able to test more ideas, explore more concepts, and spend more time honing our story and message to be of greater value to clients, which is exactly what they want in the first place.

Are you ready for the future? Email me to learn more about Pellucid's custom content services.