Pitching: it’s a seller’s market
By Christine Downton
The ten top tips to ensuring a successful outcome when running a pitch
Pitching has become a seller’s market. As the economy starts to recover and brands implement their post pandemic strategies, many agencies are operating at, or near, capacity and as a consequence they are being very careful about which pitches they participate in. Knowing that a pitch will be well run is a key consideration for agencies, ensuring that precious resource and time is not wasted. Here’s some top tips to ensure that you secure the best agency talent to take part in your pitch:
- An inspiring, clear and motivational RFI and Brief
A well written and inspiring RFI is a key first step in attracting the agencies’ attention and interest in the opportunity. Understanding the requirements for the prospective agency and details of the process will help the agencies schedule their involvement versus other opportunities and provides some confidence that the process will be run effectively and efficiently. An essential complement to a strong RFI is a well-written coherent and succinct brief that excites the Agencies. Ideally the brief should include a ‘live’ challenge – something that is actually required so the input and the outcomes are genuine – and the work can quickly move from pitch to reality.
- A clear methodology and process that is transparent to all involved ensures good time management for all parties and clarity on expectations and deliverables.
- Alignment and buy-in – it’s important that all stakeholders in the process are aligned on the need for the pitch and the outcomes expected. Ensuring key stakeholders are involved and engaged in the process avoids awkward disconnects at the end of the pitch when the decision on the preferred agency needs to be made.
- Marketing and Procurement working collaboratively and with shared objectives to ensure the success of the pitch, each bringing their unique skills and disciplines to the process.
- Dedicate time – pitching requires an investment of time to ensure its success – meetings need to be scheduled and committed to – it’s not possible to expect to effectively run a pitch in addition to ‘business as usual’ without some adjustment of focus and time commitments.
- Engage an independent and impartial consultant to provide valuable logistical and practical input. But, over and above that, an independent consultant brings significant other benefits, namely an understanding of the current agency landscape – who’s ‘hot’, who’s got capacity issues and who are the hidden agency ‘jewels’ beyond the usual suspects. Having an expert on hand to provide best practice counsel, insight and support through a pitch process is invaluable. And impartiality is essential to ensure agencies are put forward based on merit and right-fit to the client’s requirements.
- Agree basic contract terms and commercials before the pitch completion to provide clarity on fees and resourcing. This ensures the decision to award the business is made based on strategy and deliverables excellence, rather than cost.
- Mid-point workshop – particularly important for creative pitches. The mid-point meetings are the key point in the pitch process when client and agency teams can genuinely get an understanding of what it feels like to work with each other. They provide the opportunity for client teams to give feedback on early work, helping the agency teams to optimise their performance and solutions for the pitch.
- A clear framework for decision making providing clarity on the selection criteria, which can form the basis of a scorecard for the pitch meetings. In addition, prior to the final pitch meetings a decision tree should be agreed to confirm the process of how a selection will be made in the event of a split decision.
- Framework for agency relationship management post-pitch – having invested a significant amount of time and effort in the pitch process it is important that the relationship with the new agency stays strong and positive. Effective long-term agency management includes motivational commercial arrangements and regular performance evaluation to ensure any issues are identified and addressed at an early stage, as well as recognising and celebrating excellence.
Christine Downton is the Associate Partner of The Observatory International
Sign up here for the latest articles or follow us on linkedin