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Pitching: Social media is the best sales and marketing tool for small event agencies – Interview with Sabrina Meyers, founder of Orchid Lily Events

Large and small agencies approach the pitching process differently. While the large, well-established agencies can employ vast resources when it comes to labour and capital, smaller agencies have limited resources with which to pitch, therefore constantly thinking outside the box to be creative on a small budget.

Our next event, ‘Pitching for success: pitfall and opportunities’ takes place on 21 February at Allianz Park in London in collaboration with the Future in 15 Show. In the lead-up, we are gathering feedback from event planners across the industry that will inform suitable discussion and appropriate questions about the challenges faced by event managers around the world when it comes to pitching. 

After an insightful interview with Kevin Jackson, the founder of The Experience is the Marketing, I wanted to explore the approach to pitching by very small agencies, that is, usually an agency where the owner is the main employee and the ‘face’ of the business. For this topic, I interviewed Sabrina Meyers, the founder of Orchid Lily Events. Based in Cologne, Germany, she is most probably known for her YouTube channel and social media presence as Hot Hospitality Exchange. It is no surprise that we also met via Twitter less than a year ago.

Sabrina and I both have small businesses, so we hosted an Instagram Live chat, sharing our experience and discussing what pitching means for business such as ours. 

The many reasons why agencies should not pitch and how to build relationships in B2B – interview with Kevin Jackson, Founder of The Experience is The Marketing

Pitching has been a hot topic in the events industry since I can remember. It can be a costly process, and therefore must be approached wisely. The beginning of the year is when we aim to acquire new clients and grow our businesses. Therefore, we have decided to host the next Event Planners Talk x Future in 15 event on 21 February at Allianz Park in London. The event concerns pitching, more specifically, ‘Pitching for success: pitfalls and opportunities’. As you will soon read in this interview article, for a reputable agency, the cost of pitching is between 15,000–20,000 GBP, but the good news is, if you can recognise a toxic pitch, you will be in a position to say more often ‘no’ to pitching then ‘yes’, and that approach will improve your success rates. 

Let me introduce you to Kevin Jackson. He is a pitching veteran and the founder of The Experience is The Marketing. Kevin will give a Q & A keynote at the event. His agency specialises in growth, and thanks to his impressive resume of clients across various industries and disciplines around the world, he brings a fresh and forward-looking perspective that helps customers stay ahead of the game and win new business. 

I interviewed Kevin on Instagram Live ahead of his keynote and here share with you the takeaway points from our discussion. 

Pitching: what makes a winner

What makes a pitch stand out? What are the top tips for pitching to corporate clients? What about the budgets, presentation formats and the absolute No No’s?

C & IT Agency Forum took place from 3 – 5 August 2016 at ExCeL London and held a session about pitching and what makes a winner. The discussion was moderated by Alison Williams, Head of Events at Loreal UK and panellists included Emma Chandisingh, Head of Events and Engagement at Roche, Sally Holt, Senior Project Manager at ITV Events and Ashleigh Jackman, Vice President, Relationships & Events at Barclays Corporate & International.

Loving the pitch

Loving the pitch was the title of Gareth Dimelow’s talk at the #EventPlannersTalk LIVE event on 25th July at EEF Venues’ Broadway House. Formerly the Executive Director of Strategy and Planning at George P. Johnson, Gareth is the founder of LIFTd, a new strategic communications consultancy. Building on almost twenty years of experience, working with many of the world’s most recognisable brands, Gareth is now helping clients to engage their employees, unlock the DNA of their business, and build brands through the collaborative storytelling process. Used to bridging the gap between knowledge and creative expression, Gareth has developed insights and robust communication platform for a wide variety of clients, ranging from BBC, Samsung and GSK, to IBM, Toyota and Zumba. Based on his years long experience and expertise, he shared with us the most common problems and challenges in pitching and what effective pitching is.


His talk kicked off with presenting probably the most common challenge with pitching – having negative association and suspicion because there is pressure to give the best without getting anything in return. But, in reality, everyone has good chance at pitching if they just think about what effective pitching looks like when following these aspects:

Firstly, agencies should banish the thinking that they are invited to pitch just to “give ideas” and “make up the numbers”. Instead, it’s about giving yourself the best possible chance to get the work, so must be positive about every opportunity that comes along.

At the same time, be cautious of the “toxic pitch”. The warning signs are when client wants you to create the whole event but not making himself available for a conversation or consultation and not willing to get to know you first.

When pitching, you must allocate a leader. Leader is the one who gives direction, guidance, creates internal briefs to create something actionable. The role of the leader is to build the team, so if you are chosen to be on the pitch it’s an opportunity to shine and stand out.

Another interesting concept he presented is called “mirroring and matching”. That means that clients choose agencies that “understand the dynamics of project owners” and have the same structure as the client himself. For example, if client has marketing and communication devisions, have similar structure with marketing and communication sub-teams within your pitching team. This gets clients focus and when they have questions they know whom to ask within the team.

There are two types of briefs; one is a “shopping list”: clients want to know that you can deliver for certain cost. The other type is when clients want you to help them solve a problem, problem they might not even know at the time. Learn to look for a problem and propose to solve it, figure out what the problem is.

The things you should look for are:

How – how to address the problem, sometimes articulate that there is a problem in the first instance.

Why – why you are going to do it and why you’ve made this decision. Clients coming to you for your expertise, not your delivery ability.

What – what will the outcome be and what does success look like? How do you measure the event? The client must say what success looks like so the agency can help measure it. In a pitch you must propose vision what does success look like. Clients are not looking for capabilities otherwise you wouldn’t have been selected to pitch in the first place. Position yourself as a problem solver.


You can differentiate yourself when you can meet client’s needs when the competitor can’t. Successful pitch must persuade the client to do something.

It’s also important to incorporate storytelling in your pitch. Brands always say that they tell stories – all use it, but when stuff stop being content and become a story? To create a good story there must me the 3 Ms: it must be meaningful, memorable and moving. It must resonate with people, have a hook, make you feel something and create emotions to remember.

Talking about the ideal length of a pitch, Gareth said it should be as long as it has to be and as short as it can be.

Last but not least, try to avoid clichés because it’s when the audience starts switching off. If your story is compelling, you won’t need any power point for your pitch as you’ll send follow up documents with the script. All you need to memorise is the first and last lines of your pitch.

To be honest with you I was always horrified about pitching and Gareth’s presentation gave me confidence and guidance how to do better and embrace every opportunity that comes my way! What’s your experience with pitching?