NABS Fast Forward 2016 week one: Jon Steel on Pitching - NABS
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NABS Fast Forward 2016 week one: Jon Steel on Pitching

Words by Jo Arden, 23red, Team Simmonds Mentor

The UK’s most exciting and tirelessly fought competition is back. Sounding the end of summer more clearly than Mary Berry’s cream horns, Fast Forward is back. And what a return it was. Jon Steel was back again and he was in fine form.

64 starstruck delegates paid rapt attention as he shared his twenty-some years of experience in how to tell a tale good enough to win over the most astute of marketing directors. Even for those that have been pitching a long time, there were inspiring words of wisdom on how to keep evolving, to be braver and to always be true to what you believe.

As we gathered our teams together for the first time we asked what the new delegates had taken out of what Jon spoke about. It was clear that he had made a big impression. They talked about his messages on simplicity, about cutting out the jargon and talking with conviction in words that are powerful because they lack ambiguity and waffle. The reminder that being natural and authentic could not have been more in tune with the views of the smart and energetic twenty-somethings sitting round the table.

Jon also speaks about truths. About the cultural truths within which ideas must live. And he also talked about human truths which he so elegantly illustrated with the legendry carousel pitch from Mad Men. This provoked much discussion and, whilst we don’t know the brief at this stage, we do know the client and the idea of bringing in much higher order emotional references may well be one of the most important things that we hear over the course.

Lastly, our team talked about the idea of taking the wider view. Jon references a brilliant tale when Jeremy Bullmore gets a whole room of wealthy would-be-philanthropists to dig deep, not by convincing them of the need for donations, but by reframing the message to talk, ever so politely, about their relationship with money.

It’s an honour to be a NABS mentor, not just because I have now seen Jon Steel speak in person no fewer than three times (though that is truly a very good thing) but because for the next couple of months I get to hang out and hear the views of some terrifically interesting people. Those people who are at the start of their careers and are challenging and disrupting the industry of which we are a part. If the questions to Jon, and the discussion in our group afterwards is anything to go by, 2016 could be the best year yet.


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