Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Creating Pitch Books Without Losing Your Mind: Design & Content Management Tips by Margaret Patterson

Below you'll find the first of three articles on "Creating Pitch Books Without Losing Your Mind" by Margaret Patterson.

Please ask questions of Margaret using the "Comments" feature at the bottom of this post. You can ask questions about topics other than pitch books.

Typically many employees provide input for a firm’s pitch book. To pull all that information together you need a good plan.

1. Delegate pitch book content management to one employee. That person will be the key contact for every employee and consultant who influences the pitch book.

2. A small approval committee, 3 to 5 people, should determine what content works best.

3. Give considerable attention to investment process but whittle it down to no more than five steps. Don’t over-explain. Let your graphics be a starting point for conversation.

4. Emphasizing investment professionals’ expertise gets new business. Don’t leave out the support they get from marketing, client service, operations and reporting. Finding inefficiencies in markets, sticking to disciplined investment processes and impressive client service are the marks of well-structured firms regardless of their size. An impressive organization chart carries a lot of weight with prospects.

5. Request senior management approval only after you have a complete draft that can be defended with valor. You need a concise mission statement supported by brief, punchy text and elegant graphics. 20 to 25 pages are enough. After all, people are pitching to people. Be a good listener and let your spoken story address a prospect’s unique concerns.

6. It’s a good idea to customize books if you clearly understand your prospect’s investment objectives. Customized pages can be inserted into your standard book.

7. Handouts are also valuable tools in a high courtship pitching process. Use fact sheets, company profile handouts and composite performance PDFs to provide more detailed information. Handouts also help you control who gets the information and when. Conversely, prospects will resort to taking phone calls and planning golf games if your pitch book is too long and intense.

I create a PowerPoint design system guide for each client to help them maintain consistent, effective messaging.

Input and questions are welcome. Your thoughts may show up in future articles, so let me know if I can quote you.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...


I am a portfolio manager in solo practice.

How important is it for me to have a professionally designed pitch book? Are there free templates that I can use?

4:40 PM  
Anonymous Margaret Patterson said...

Having a pitch book, period is essential. If budgeting is an issue your own design will work just fine for now.

Avoid using bullets on every page. Phrases and short paragraphs work well; long, compound-complex sentences don't.
Each chart should illustrate one clear concept. Use a headline that clarifies your point.
Your biography should emphasize accomplishments and experience that support the strategy you employ for your clients.

If you have never written a pitch book a professional writer like Susan Weiner may be of great value. Meanwhile, think of your book as a script for conversation, not a complete "how to" manual.

A designer with a lot of industry experience, like myself, brings a lot of value to a pitch book by suggesting visual and written content that best clarify your expertise.

Sorry, I am not aware of any free design templates tailored for use by portfolio managers.


5:21 PM  
Blogger SusanW said...


Can you explain why you recommend not using bullet points on every page of a pitch book?

5:24 PM  
Blogger CFW said...

Do you have suggestions on how to target socially conscious investors without alienating traditional investors? Both are important to our firm's success.

11:44 AM  
Anonymous margaret patterson said...

Can you explain why you recommend not using bullet points on every page of a pitch book?

PowerPoint presentations work well as highlights to guide a face-to-face presentations. However, that many bullets get tedious, like studying for a test.

Aim for visual and narrative variety. As for narrative (complete sentences/sans bullets)... brevity is best.

Do you have suggestions on how to target socially conscious investors without alienating traditional investors? Both are important to our firm's success.

The first several pages of your book should be dedicated to your firm's positioning in the market... your mission, investment philosophy, investment styles (of each strategy you manage) and your firm's expertise. The prospect wants to know what you do and how well you do it.

They won't be alienated by a variety of strategies. Rather, they will be relieved that you respect their need for clear communication.

I recommend dedicating only a page or two to each strategy, bearing in mind a 20-25 page maximum for the whole pitch book. Save the bulk of your strategy-specific details for product sheet handouts.

12:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am about to write my first pitch book for an internship. It is completely foreign to me. I have read over your descriptions and wanted to know if there are any specific outlines to follow. I am connecting a band, famous name and brand/sponsor. I have a little over 30 hours to do it and was just handed the assignment, any ideas?

9:58 PM  
Blogger Susan Weiner, CFA said...

I hope your pitch book project went well! I just saw your comment for the first time today.

There is no standard outline.

12:04 PM  

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