How Not to Pitch a Brand

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Digital has a slew of new companies selling new technology that promises to bring brands closer to their customers. But navigating through all of the emails and unsolicited phone calls is a headache for big brands.

Mondelez International, the new name for Kraft’s snack foods company, is trying to make that process easier, both for its brands and for the startups. That’s why the company rolled out a new program called “Mobile Futures,” which is designed to give mobile startups the chance to get in front of Mondelez brands.

Digiday interviewed Ed Kaczmarek, director of innovation and emerging technology at Mondelez, regarding how startups should craft their pitches to big brands. The key, Kaczmarek says, is crafting a pitch for each individual brand and explaining how your technology can help push the consumer along the path to purchase.

What’s the biggest challenge for startups looking to get in front of brands?
Getting to the right person to pitch. So many of the brands, because of being time constrained, we have to leverage agencies and the startups do not typically go to agencies to pitch them. The biggest advantage we see with our new program is it allows a lot of startups to, at least, get themselves in front of the company. We have to evaluate and wiggle it down, and what we want to do is get down to a list of 20 startups and get them to come and pitch in person. It would be too difficult to get in front of the brands otherwise, let alone the right brand, the kind that is going to connect with what you are offering. What we are trying to do is shepherd that process a little bit.

What are the challenges for brands looking to partner with a startup?
The biggest for the brand is knowing what is right for them. The advantage that we have is our agencies have done the vetting for us. We’ll tell them what we are looking for, and they meet with the startups and come back to us with suggestions. But ideally, we’d like to look at a large number of startups and put them through our own process. That way, we are putting a little bit of structure around matching the brand with the startup. Another challenge for us is, sometimes when brands are matched with startups, the process of getting things rolling takes too long. We want it to be up and running in no longer than 90 days. That‘s a realistic time frame.

What doesn’t work in terms of pitching a brand?
What they should not do is just do a standard pitch that only talks about their technology. Really, it should be about how their technology is working with the consumer and how can it can change the brand’s relationship with the consumer.

What does work when pitching a brand?
What they ultimately need to think about is, how are they really connecting and engaging with users, who are our consumers. And how can the brand be integrated into the equation. Ultimately, our goal is a deeper relationship, and we want to drive sales and loyalty. So even thinking about the whole path to purchase and how the startup fits in there: That would be valuable. Like I mentioned before, a standard pitch won’t work. You always want to customize it to your audience.

What is Mondelez looking for from a vendor?
Ultimately, we are looking for a partner that is collaborative in nature. The best thing we can hope for is working with a partner to create something better together than what we could do alone. We are not asking for them to pivot or change what they are doing. But I think when you collaborate, the outcome is better for all parties involved. We’re also looking for a startup whose technology is ready to go. We want to open the gate and begin to get out there and bring scale to its business and our brands.

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