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Making The Grade: The Pitch Process Goes Back to School

Ben Citron, Creative Director. Ben is the Creative Director in PJA’s San Francisco office. When he’s not there he’s busy at home helping raise two young boys. Occasionally he sleeps.

For the past three months I have been engaged in a very important pitch process. Not a pitch in the advertising or marketing sense—this is for an entirely different industry. Nonetheless, there are some striking parallels. As with any good pitch, let’s start with a little background… K-8 education in San Francisco. It is a […]

For the past three months I have been engaged in a very important pitch process. Not a pitch in the advertising or marketing sense—this is for an entirely different industry. Nonetheless, there are some striking parallels.

As with any good pitch, let’s start with a little background…

K-8 education in San Francisco. It is a highly diverse and extremely competitive market. The options include public, parochial, charter, and independent schools. I have a son approaching kindergarten age and my family has been exploring the independent route. There are a number of excellent independent schools in SF, but not nearly enough open slots to meet demand.

Each school has its own in-depth application process (analogous to a RFP). Before getting to that step, however, an extensive Discovery phase must be completed in order to determine which schools are the right ones to pitch. In other words, brand immersion.

1. Read the literature. See what each school has to say and gain a frame of reference.

2. Experience the product firsthand. Attend tours and open houses. Watch classes in session. Meet the teachers and administration. Maybe even talk to some students.

3. Audit media channels. From Facebook groups to Yelp! reviews to websites specifically created as forums for rating and discussing independent schools, there is a torrent of anecdotal data to cross-reference against what you have already learned.

4. Customer testimonials. Connect directly with parents of kids who currently attend or previously attended your top choices. A vital and highly personalized source of insight.

Once your top choices have been selected and ranked in order of preference, it’s time to submit the RFPs. Time to labor over carefully worded answers to probing questions. Time to set up face-to-face meetings for Q&A and chemistry checks. Time to wonder about the competition and if they’re somehow doing something more than you to stand out.

And then you wait…

(Any of that sound familiar?)

 

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