One of the most overlooked and undervalued presentations for agencies and suppliers is their Credentials deck (more commonly referred to as “Creds”). Most of the time the creds deck is a static document that just gets updated once a year and it’s present to all potential clients with minor (if any) changes. This is especially true in the digital era where services and channels multiply by the quarter. If done strategically, a solid Creds deck can win you clients without a pitch or if a pitch is unavoidable, sets you up perfectly for a win.
Here’s one thing that suppliers and agencies need to understand: clients see dozens of credentials presentations from a lot of potential partners. A good Creds deck isn’t just supposed to introduce your company but it should singlemindedly and concisely state what makes you different from everyone else and what value you bring to the table.
Learning from the Elevator Pitch
How do you begin to draw up a good Creds deck? When I was still in agency I took inspiration from the “Elevator Pitch” that was popularized in the start-up world.
“An elevator pitch is a brief, persuasive speech that you use to spark interest in what your organization does. You can also use them to create interest in a project, idea, or product – or in yourself. A good elevator pitch should last no longer than a short elevator ride of 20 to 30 seconds, hence the name.”
My thesis was simple: if I couldn’t crystalize what the overwhelming and unique value our agency offers in 30 seconds verbally without slides, then chances are I didn’t understand the business enough and have a good grasp of the industry.
What are potential differentiators? If you can’t think of any then you’re in trouble. Here are some factors which you might want to take a look at:
- structure of the agency which can deliver better value (better SLA, affordable rates, variable payment schemes)
- IP that you own like audiences or ad technology
- a bold claim with back up like “the most awarded agency” for creative or for effectiveness
- subsidiaries or exclusive partnerships which give new services
After determining what our key differentiator was, I practiced again and again to clearly state what separated us from all other digital outfits in an elevator pitch format. That served as the outline for the Creds deck.
By the way, the agency elevator pitch turned out to be a powerful networking tool. Usually when agencies introduce themselves in events they just say the name of their outfit and expect clients to know them. Everytime I was asked to introduce myself I would say the spiel on what made us different from everyone else and this led to multiple actual credential presentations and eventually awarding of new business.
Tell a Story
The generic structure of a creds deck looks something like this:
- Who we are and which network we belong to
- Introduce Leadership Team
- The agency selling point usually captured in a nice one liner
- Lots of case studies and awards won by the agency
It’s a template that I’ve presented before when I was on agency and have seen numerous times when I was on the client side. There’s no story and no soul. I’d recommend to do it this way:
- Who you are and how you’re built
- unique selling point and how you address client needs and pain points compared against other agencies (usually include digital POV here)
- Client Pain Point #1, how you address, and the case study to back it up (x3)
- A strong closing statement echoing your selling point
If you end your credentials presentation and it’s not clear to the mind of the client what makes you different from everyone else then you’ve failed.
Power of Mind Bomb Statements
For the actual Creds deck I suggest you focus less on how great you are but more on powerful statements rooted on insights about how you can solve pain points of your client. In talks I usually refer to these as “tweetable one-liners”. Always make it a point to always deliver a barrage of them in credentials and pitch presentations. All of them should ladder up to the main differentiator that you have.
Revise, revise, revise
Last, but definitely not the least, the Creds deck should be an everchanging document. In 2015 I reached up to V22. In 2016 I hit V46. Changes shouldn’t just happen because of new case studies and award wins. Try treating every creds deck as an industry talk on where advertising or digital was headed anchored in the latest trends coming from the industry.
Keep revising. You never know if that new slide you add will actually close a deal for you.
In closing let me just reiterate a point that we made earlier in this article: if at the end of your presentation the client doesn’t have a good idea what makes you unique compared to all of your competitors, you’ve failed.
This post is part of our “Digtial Agency Series“. More posts to come in the coming days and we will link to them below as well.
- How to Deliver Powerful Credentials Presentations to Potential Clients
- 5 Lessons in Building Lasting Client Relationships
- 5 Unspoken Ways in Motiving and Inspiring your Agency
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PS: We did an entire series on Digital Public Relations. If you’re interested to read the articles, click here!