I remember sharing my first (and, admittedly, very flaky) business plan with my father. At the time, he held a senior role within a large investment bank and enjoyed all the trappings that come with such a role – a very capable PA, around the clock marketing support on speed dial and a team on hand to provide carefully researched content for every presentation he delivered.
After dutifully reading through the draft business plan, his response will always stick with me -
"Sorry, but I don't see it. We have people in-house who do that for us. Other companies do, too."
He had a point. Why would companies with a team of in-house designers, proficient in all the latest technologies and with the ability to spot an off-brand pantone at 100 yards, turn to a start up dedicated to presentation development?
I spluttered my way through a defence:
- We're specialists.
- We bring a new perspective to presentations.
- We're quicker.
- We're more invested in our clients' success.
- Um, we're cheaper..?
As would seem to be the norm for many entrepreneurs, I chose to ignore my father’s advice and dived headfirst into launching and then building Eyeful, client by client.
Some clients were too small to have a dedicated army of presentation developers so, rather than trying to fumble their way through the creation of a new deck, they turned to us (and then, thankfully, returned time and time again).
Some clients were huge with off-shored presentation ‘factories’ but turned to us because our contacts couldn’t face round after round of amends conducted via email with a faceless colleague in Bangalore. Or they simply wanted something turning around in record time. The more we delivered, the more they wanted.
Business grew. The team grew. My confidence grew.
And then I received the phone call that changed everything. It was from the Director of Creative Services for a global consultancy firm. They were a household name, famed for their efficient and well-respected presentation teams around the globe, each dedicated to supporting their partners in much the same way Eyeful was supporting our clients – incisive messaging, credible content and engaging design.
And now they wanted to talk to us… Gulp.
Their request was simple – come in and inspire us. The Director freely admitted that his teams were running short on ideas, both in terms of design and their general approach to new presentation projects. They’d lost their mojo and turned to Eyeful to find it.
What followed was a global road trip that encompassed the first iteration of our now well-respected ‘Think, Act & Deliver Differently’ workshop, a presentation roundtable session and design masterclass. They learned a lot about our approach, IP and the passion you should feel for presentations each and every day. We learned that our ability to inspire, approach a project with fresh eyes and ask those obvious-but-awkward-questions that people quickly forget to ask made us valuable to them and businesses of all sizes. So much so that we continue to work closely with the consultancy firm (and last year was our biggest yet – 10 years after our first engagement).
So, when we’re speaking to a MegaCorp and our team are challenged with the age-old pushback – “we have an in-house team”, our response is the same:
“Great – that makes perfect sense for an organisation of your size and scale. We wouldn’t dream of trying to replace them (no doubt, they’re invaluable). Where we’ve helped in the past is to spark new ideas, excite and inspire them to create the next standard of presentations. Oh, and of course, we’re always on hand to work with you to develop those ‘must win’ presentations that need that little extra creativity and insight”.
And for those companies too small for an inhouse team and tempted to craft their own presentations, our response is a little more direct:
“Did you ‘have a go’ at creating your own website? Or brochure? Or advertising campaign? Probably not – you’ll have turned to experts who will use their experience and skills to make them a success. Why then would you not follow the same approach with your most important sales tool, your presentation?”.
Whatever the situation, presentations are too important to take shortcuts. Investing in the development of the skills of your inhouse team or outsourcing the whole process to an expert is a small price to pay for presentation success.