The Insights Blog

Belief and conviction matter in good pitches and proposals

Belief and conviction matter in good pitches and proposals


Marketers and agency execs can learn so much from the world around them. One example is in the area of storytelling and persuasiveness: there is so much that can be learned from great writers about how to spin a compelling narrative.

Great stories matter. They connect you with your key audiences. They give people a reason to pay attention. And there is more. Great stories presented in a passionate manner can elevate the story and increase the odds of your message, recommendation or pitch connecting.

My favorite baseball blogger recently wrote about just that. And what she wrote is as relevant to marketers trying to pitch their ideas inside their corporation or agencies pitching work to prospects or clients as it is to a baseball team engaging its fanbase.

Let me start by introducing baseball’s best blogger: Kate Preusser, editor in chief of Lookout Landing, a blog site devoted to the Seattle Mariners. Kate recently wrote the following:

         In an essay about inflection and tone in writing, “You’re Really Something,” Charles Baxter tells about a family trip to a tourist trap called Dinosaur World, where the affectless teen narrating the tram ride through “a trip back through time” adds a layer of unintended hilarity as the family rumbles along past tableaus of dilapidated dinosaurs, jaws agape, standing in fountains that shoot toilet-cleaner-blue-dyed water. The teenaged guide is baffled when the family bursts out laughing midway through the tour, ramshackle as it is, but laden with jump scares: “What, you’re not scared?” No, the family assures the teen, but not because the plaster on the T-Rex is crumbling and the jungle plants are plastic, but because the entire tour has been delivered in a flat monotone; the suspension of belief is nonexistent, because there was no belief to be suspended in the first place: “None of us at Dinosaur World expected to believe what we were seeing. We expected to be invited to a little party where the host acted as if he believed, or at least was interested in what he was seeing and was inviting us into that as if.

         As if. In order to tell a story, you ask the audience to come into a world you’ve created; the payment for entry is belief. But in order to extract that ticket price from an audience, the writer, showman, magician or baseball team has to believe in what they are doing, to an extent, and be able to perform that belief to others.

Kate was writing about baseball, but she could have been talking about marketers or agency execs. Every day we face audiences with a great deal on their minds and we ask them to lean in and grace us with their attention. There is a price to gaining that attention and an even greater price to gaining their approval: they need to believe. And for them to believe in your proposal or pitch or point of view, it must be obvious that you believe.

Steve Boehler, founder, and partner at Mercer Island Group has led consulting teams on behalf of clients as diverse as Zillow Group, Microsoft, UScellular, Nintendo, Ulta Beauty, Stop & Shop, Qualcomm, Brooks Running, and numerous others. He founded MIG after serving as a division president in a Fortune 100 when he was only 32. Earlier in his career, Steve Boehler cut his teeth with a decade in Brand Management at Procter & Gamble, leading brands like Tide, Pringles, and Jif.