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London 2012 and World Athletics 2017 pricing chief on how to better pitch your worth

Paul Williamson on how to better pitch your worth

Drawing from his record-breaking results as former director of ticketing at London 2012 Olympics, Rugby World Cup 2015 and World Athletics 2017, Paul Williamson, managing director, Sports Ink will illustrate how he has used price as a narrative in marketing his own consultancy to win new business at The Drum Pitch Perfect.

What can attendees expect from your session?

What I intend too do is talk for 10 minutes on big exciting international sports events that I’ve worked on and been the director off and where I’ve used pricing as a dynamic and narrative to drive the business. Then we will apply that to the work which I do in my business when I pitch to businesses and how I try and be creative in pricing. There's a B2B bit and a B2C bit and the two of them fit together.

How can an agency figure out if their prices are too high or too low?

Every agency has its own rate card, day rate and project rate and in part it learns whether that is the right rate card by whether it wins or loses business. If it's too expensive it won't win business, but by being more creative with that rate card, maybe it could get into some better pitching situations by aligning its own success with the success of the client. Not just charging for an hour’s work but for quality of the output.

How would you best advise agencies to not use a price-creep strategy?

They need to think very carefully about who is reading the pitch. Who is making the decision on this and what do they want to see on this page. Not just what do I want to put on this page but what do they want to see in terms of how it helps them grow their business. Companies only bring in agencies to help them grow their business. They don't do it for its own sake.

Herman Simon estimates that managers allocate 70% of their time to cost issues, 20% to volume and only 10% to pricing. He suggests that it’s the opposite order of effect that these drivers have on profit. What are your thoughts on this?

Getting pricing right is so critical and it's very much under cooked and under looked and investing more time in getting your pricing right and making your pricing interesting, has a remarkable effect on your business. In my session I will be talking about some examples of how that has affected the businesses I've run.

How would you apply that to a growing agency business?

Think about what's driving the person on the other side of the table and who's making the decisions. They need to grow their business and make it more profitable. How does my pitch help them do that and how do I align my pricing to enable them to do that? If they're not thinking like that, they should be. It's not good enough to come in with the same old template week after week. An agency will spend a lot of time on its creative work, on its pitch quality but they need to spend the right amount of time on thinking through its pricing to make it relevant to the client.

How can agencies better understand the role that pricing plays in increasing profit?

I've been on both sides of the table with agencies pitching to me. What drives me nuts is when they look at the price of the briefing and not the value of what they're putting forward. They have spent a lot of time on how much they are going to earn from the project and far less on how they are going to drive my business forward to help me. Far too often, businesses are mi-optically looking at how much they will get in the bank at the end of the month and not at how they can help grow this 'pie' so that there is a bigger price to earn from, which makes it a win-win situation.

How that translates into a better pitch, I think, is all about linking your achievements to the success of the business you are pitching to. What are the KPIs? What are the parameters which drive that business you are pitching too? And how can you align that success to your own success? I always try and make the agencies that work with me get something on the upside, if there is an upside, but they need to earn that by helping me drive the business.

In his session, “Grow your revenue through clever pricing”, Williamson will be discussing various examples of how that has affected businesses he has run. He was the lead on pricing for the London 2012 Olympics, which achieved over £600million of tickets sales, hundreds of millions ahead of target.

More recently he led pricing at the World Athletics and World ParaAthletics Championships. On the final night of the event, the Guinness Book of Records turned up and gave the team a certificate for being the biggest ever World Athletics Championships in terms of tickets sold.

The conference will take place on Thursday 28 September. Agency owners, senior managers, new business leads and marketers can book one of the last remaining places for Pitch Perfect here.

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