Event Recap: Marketing Resolution 2019

2019 Marketing Resolutions | Nailing the Interview

What it takes to really win and win big! Bringing together the right message, the right team, and the right pitch

Frank Lippert, FSMPS, CPSM and Kathryn Ness, CPSM, Go Strategies

Great coaching skills are one thing, but there is so much more to a winning interview. The message must resonate with the client, but, almost as important, it must resonate with the team presenting it. The team has to gel, come together, support each other, and sometimes save one another. That doesn’t just happen. Marketers don’t just put the right people in a room, coach them to like each other, and believe a message they crafted – it’s much more, especially when you really nail it! Come learn how to craft a message for the interview that everyone believes in and wants. Learn how to pull a team together and develop chemistry that triumphs over those dreaded interview scenarios. Come learn how to sell it by just being real, being the best you can be, and by being on point. This is not about interview coaching – there are a lot experts that teach that – this is about creating a story and telling it so that everyone buys in and votes “yes!”

How do you win work?

By standing out amongst the rest. 

What does an rfp look like?

10-12 pages, 1-2 pages about the project  , Several pages of Legalese, 1-2 pages of instruction, Due date

In reality, it's this

2 inch binder, Lots of meeting notes, Several pages of Legalese, Maps, drawings, sketches, diagrams, Due dates, plural

winning firms have this

Volume of data:

2 inch binder, Lots of meeting notes, Teaming agreements, Maps, drawings, sketches, diagrams, Due dates, plural

what the client really wants: an apple

The apple that continues to deliver and “feed” the community and growth that will come from project.


knowing the pursuit

pursuit planning basics

  • Scalable, get in front of 3-6 months in advance
  • Develop a schedule and get commitment early
  • Hold to budget and schedule
  • Living documents
  • Probably means less proposals, but more winning proposals 
  • Quote me on it: “Investing upfront = less investment, more wins

decision maker breakdown

See spreadsheet, collect the facts, read the news etc., figure out what those connections are. How will you approach them?

decision maker breakdown

Social Styles:

  • Driver
  • Expressive
  • Amiable
  • Analytical

decision maker breakdown

See provided Decision Maker Breakdown spreadsheet

key point discovery template

How those people will fit into the project:

  • Management
  • Technical
  • Partnership / Agency  > getting to know other agencies influencing project
  • Public > how this will affect the public, controversy
  • Environmental > Impacts on the surrounding environment etc.
  • Political >
  • Psychological > The “weird” stuff that happens during a project

key point discovery template

Put together an excel spreadsheet (See provided spreadsheet), How much experience does your team bring, education styles etc.

winning team qualifications analysis

See provided Team Qualifications Analysis Spreadsheet

What type of experience does the client want?

ie: “project manager has to have a degree in a certain study”

  • Availability of your team
  • What info needs to be gathered?
  • Qualifications form > separate meeting with team
  • Think about current projects in the office as they may impact this project

winning team qualifications analysis


Management Structure > ie: One person in charge, not a large team

winning team qualifications analysis

Compare winning team and your team strengths and weaknesses

Team > Have honest conversations with team, Gap analysis

Strengths ie: List major abilities

Weaknesses ie: bad listener etc.

winning team qualifications analysis

The Home Team Stack-Up

  • Competition
  • Game Plan
  • Consider bringing competitor’s branding visuals into your team meetings. This will most likely trigger a different head space for your team.
  • If you hire on people who used to work for clients, potential clients, or competition, within the first week, pick their brain about their experience there.
  • If game plan is weak, it's okay to call it a no-go – proposals are expensive and time consuming
  • Why should we bother de-briefing after a proposal? To narrow down what went wrong or what went right. The client typically won't tell you if you lost.

pursuit planning basics


  • 3-6 month lead time
  • Develop a schedule and get commitment early
  • Hold to your budget and schedule
  • Living Documents
  • Reduce “clone” proposals and make your approach more strategic


Storyboarding a great message

Walt Disney pioneered this process

Bring in items that inspire creativity ie: box of crayons, sharpies, change up the space – consider standing, not sitting


  • Defines the problem and solution (big picture)
  • Lays out your specific approach
  • Memorable, but not always catchy
  • Succint, but not always “aha!”
  • Don’t over think it

key messages:

  • Identify the key messages: Acquired through listening to the client
  • Differentiator messages start here!!!
  • Challenges of the project
  • Important aspects of the project

There must be:

-       From the client’s mouth

-       Triangulated

-       Tested

Storyboarding – Concepts, gains, evidence

  • Concepts > How will you relieve each pain point?
  • Gains> What does the client gain?
  • Evidence> Where have you done it before?


Storyboarding – Concepts (A)

This is where problem-solvers thrive, let the team talk it out because they are actually practicing the interview Q&A portion

It's the “how” part of the story

  • Get geeky
  • Spend time here
  • Let the technical professionals talk this out at length


Storyboarding – Gains (B)

  • Juicy Stuff
  • Clients eat this up
  • This is where the client goes “aha!”
  • It’s the “why!”
  • You CANNOT teach the client something new in your proposal


Storyboarding – evidence (c

  • The proofs
  • Photoraphy and stories
  • Testimonials
  • Video (a plus when submitting electronically)
  • Captioning “This is why we are doing this”


Storyboarding – Conclusive pitch

  • Tell them what you told them!
  • Tell them why you are the best team to do the job!
  • Sell them with your knowledge AND your enthusiasm
  • Ask for it



  • Alignment with their vision.
  • Moving together.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
  • Creativity – problem solving in new ways.

What’s out?

  • Regurgitation of the proposal.
  • “Dog and pony show”
  • PowerPoints
  • Hard sells

What’s in?

  • Collaboration
  • Strategic Surprises
  • Interactive discussions with interviewers
  • Problem solving strategies


Questions to ask when you make the shortlist


How did we rank?

How many firms submitted and how many were shortlisted?


            What can we expand/improve on?

            Why were we selected?

            Any specific concerns?


            Was there anything specific you would like us to cover in the interview?

            Has anything changed since the RFP?


            How many selection committee members?

            Where will the interview be and can we come see the room?


            How creative can we be with the interview?

            Can we rearrange the room?

            Can we make the interview interactive?

            Can we bring someone to observe/run PowerPoint (Marketing person)

Interview Prep

It is all about building relationships with interview members.

-       Grab coffee, lunch, dinner – anything to get out of the office.


-       Work together like a sports team.

o   Focus on goals, not individuals

o   Recruit the right players

o   Celebrate EVERY success!

-       Start training as early as possible.

-       Provide clear roles to each person

-       Expectations should be clearly defined


Visit the site together as a team. Envision the project! Provide food during prep meetings (people relax while they eat). Let people tell their stories, and LISTEN intentionally.

Fixing Broken teams

  • Be direct. Talk it out.
  • Be all-inclusive to team members.
  • Be empathetic when having difficult conversations.

Signs that you’ve got it

Laughter, fun, high fives, social media connections, increased empathy.

Signs that you need to keep working on it

  • The meetings drag on, and on, and on….
  • Eye rolling
  • Lack of interest (checking email, opening laptops)
  • Showing up late for prep

Starting Interview Prep

  • Go back to your storyboard! Put it on the wall, and start making talking points based on your proposal.
  • There should be 3 to 5 scheduled rehearsals before every interview. Start early!
  • Visit the site as a team, to envision the project.
  • Set deadlines – graphics, wording, info, etc.


People – them

  • Map out who you know/think attends the interview.
  • Show the team LinkedIn pictures for the people who will be interviewing.
  • Where are the influences who won’t be in the interview?

People – us

  • Map out team members who will have chemistry with their team members.
  • Who do you think our competition is bringing?
  • Introduce your neighbor, not yourself.
  • (Interviewer women should be matched with interviewee women, interviewer minorities should be matched with interviewee minorities, etc.)


Know the interview room layout! Taylor your presentation based on the room layout.

Talking points

Rough it out… but keep it simple. Use what works best for each team member.

Know the material! You can’t fake it.

Rehearsal #1

  • It will be hard to listen to/sit through. That’s ok!
  • It will drag on.
  • Schedule for double the allowed time-limit.
  • EVERYONE must be there.

Rehearsals to follow:

  • They should get smoother with each rehearsal.
  • Transitions and words get smoother, more natural.
  • EVERYONE must rehearse.
  • Time yourself at every rehearsal.
  • Ask the team about their attire – make sure it’s cleaned, pressed, ready to wear!
  • Use evenings wisely – help the team unwind and bind.
  • Talk to team members about their crutch words/awkward tendencies (nicely)

*Use a mock-panel with other co-workers. Have them ask real questions, without warning the team what they will be. Make the interviewees uncomfortable, so they will feel comfortable at the real interview.

Final rehearsal

  • Morning of, if possible.
  • Come dressed in your interview attire.
  • Time it!
  • Practice your eye contact and smiling.
  • Cheer each other on!


  • Be a giver, not a taker.
  • Be genuine.
  • Pause after key statements.
  • Short and sweet answers
  • Engage the interviewers

After the interview

  • Debrief with the team.
  • Write down Q’s and A’s that were asked.
  • Critique the interview *before* you get feedback from the interviewers.

Six lessons learned

  1. Keep the win-messages at top of mind
  2. Set daily agendas with goals (what by when)
  3. Be flexible, adjust to energy levels (work/life balance) (bend with the team)
  4. Build team chemistry (laugh/encourage)
  5. Technical expertise is important, but needs to mix with human side (empathy).
  6. Practice, practice, practice!
  7. Your competitors are!

Handout 1

Handout 2

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