The traditional pitch process isn’t working; with many agencies now opting out all together something has to change. But that doesn’t mean pitching is over – I believe a pitch can still be a valuable process for brands to find the best creative partners, and for agencies to find the best new business. It just needs to be handled in the right way.
Having worked on pitches for both agencies and brands, I’ve got plenty of experience on both sides of the fence. And the insider insight to help you get the very most from the process.
In fact, in a recent pitch I ran all three contenders secured business with the brand, and the process I developed is now used as a benchmark for its future pitches.
Pitching is cost and labour intensive, so it’s crucial you only say yes to the right pitches and ask the right questions. Qualifying opportunities is so important. I’ve seen many agencies pitch for a piece of business and only admit when they didn’t win that they weren’t actually suited to the client or project.
Don’t be automatically sucked in by the brand name and don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. Often, you’ll be assessed on how you communicate and the questions you ask. Some agencies don’t even find out why the client is looking for a new agency, let alone meet the marketing team before they pitch.
People buy from people, so get to know who you’re pitching to and be genuine. A pitch can be lost at chemistry, creds and even at pitch stage by pretending to be something they’re not and trying to be all things to all people. This only leads to an unhappy and unfilled relationship on both parts.
It’s so important to choose the right pitch team, plan in enough time and resource to do the work and practice lots. No matter how many pizzas you order, you’ll not produce your best work in the early hours.
“Deborah was a great partner to work with on deciding on our future advertising agency.The pitch process was seamless and the advice on what we should consider as part of our decision was spot on. I would work with Deborah again as her experience was invaluable.”Daniele Philips Head of Marketing
“Deborah helped take us through a pitch process to find an advertising agency partner, from the minute she joined she became an integral part of the team, running the project to perfection, she kept us on track internally and worked professionally with agencies. Especially quick to understand our needs and therefore successfully partnered us with an agency that fit our criteria to set us up for success. A joy to work with and a recommended addition to client businesses and agencies alike.”Alex WaltonHead of Brands - Sky Betting and Gaming
““We asked for Deborah’s help when we were up against it on a pitch, and with a key member of staff on leave I needed someone to manage the whole process. The pitch process was unbelievably stress free and we now have a process in place that should set us up for future success'”FounderBrand agency; London
“‘Just wanted to let you know what a pleasure it has been dealing with you. I think you have run the pitch fabulously.’”Barry Cook Founder of Krow Communications
Do you know what you want from an agency? What kind of agency are you looking for and which team will they be working with? Are your stakeholders on the same page? Only when they are, can you get the best from the pitch process and the agency you select.
If you’re looking for a long-lasting creative partner with a relationship based on transparency and collaboration, smoke and mirrors can’t play a part. Disclose your budgets and share as much as you can – the more you give the more you’ll get out of it.
At the pitch, you want every agency to nail the brief so you then have choices. Helping agencies get there isn’t giving the game away, it’s collaborating towards a shared goal and that’s the way to build a partnership you’ll profit from.
Decide upfront how much you’re willing to share – and share as much as you can. In a recent pitch for a brand, I worked closely with the agencies and we agreed for each to spend time with various departments in the business. This gave them a deeper insight into the brand’s challenges. The result was all three agencies were really hungry to work with the business, thanks to its support and transparency, and they all answered the brief perfectly.
Researching agencies, coordinating chemistry sessions, running a pitch, negotiating fees and on-boarding a new creative partner is something you can do yourself. But do you have the time or insider knowledge to do it justice?
And are you aligned internally on what you’re looking for? Ensuring everyone’s on the same page, from the CEO to the marketing teams managing the brief, is vital to avoid costly mistakes.
I’m here to make life much easier by helping you get all that right.