AIANY Goes American Idol, with The Pitch

Event: The Pitch: A Hands-on Workshop on Attracting a Client in Two Minutes or Less
Location: Center for Architecture, 07.11.11
Judges: John D. Puglisi, PE — Assistant Vice President, Facilities Operations, Fordham University; Iva Kravitz — President, The Design Broker; Tami Hausman, Ph.D. — President, Hausman LLC; Richard Staub — President, Richard Staub Marketing Services
Organizer: AIANY Marketing & PR Committee
Sponsors: A. Esteban & Company

Who says game shows are only for television? Recently, seven teams of A/E/C contestants competed in a friendly exercise to hone their presentation skills in the form of a one-minute elevator pitch. The elevator occupant and fictitious public client, played by a John Fontillas, AIA, LEED AP, partner at H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture and co-chair of the AIANY Marketing & PR Committee, served as game show host, supported by judges John Puglisi, PE, Iva Kravitz, Tami Hausman, Ph.D., and Richard Staub (warmly evoking Simon, Paula, and others as needed). The teams were given a brief scenario that set the context for developing the timed pitches their spokespeople would deliver.

The judges, commenting after each presentation, offered a range of insights and tips on successful approaches. Among them: Make a connection — perhaps through informed previous research, a mutual colleague, or shared interest. Be specific — saying that you saved another client $300,000 on a similar project by resolving a design issue will be a great deal more compelling and credible than just claiming to be “on-time” and “on-budget.” Be personable — pleasant is good, pushy is not. While first impressions are highly subjective, overall consensus was that a hard sell rarely comes across well. Position yourself as knowledgeable — clients appreciate when you offer them information they may not already know, or supplement their area of expertise with your own. Suggest an actionable follow-up — teams offered business cards, lunches, and guided tours as examples. Last but not least, get the client’s name right!

The top teams, as voted on by the audience, exhibited the best combination of effective techniques and walked away with coveted Magic 8 Balls and other gag prizes.