5 ways to get the best out of an agency pitch.
Pitching is a part of agency life and as an agency we expect it. It would be fantastic to be simply judged on the work we have done and the work that we could do, but at the same time we understand it’s a process that clients have to go through in order to choose their agency, so they feel confident in that decision making process.
However. The pitching process can be incredibly challenging! Timings are normally tight, they’re typically an unpaid invitation, and there isn’t usually an established relationship between agency and client, which results in lots of unknowns!
So how can you get the best out of your agency when you have asked them to competitively pitch for new work?
#1 Give as much information as you can.
A pitch shouldn’t be treated as a test but a way of trying to find the best solution to your needs. The agency that you pick should be seen as an extension of your team so the more they know and understand, then the better the creative output will be. A full and detailed brief is a must. If there’s time, talk the agency through the brief in person so they have a full understanding of your needs. The value of this is incredibly useful for both you and your potential agency partner.
#2 Give as much time as you can.
An agency that decides to pitch will want to give it 100% - otherwise what’s the point? Let’s be realistic and honest, the studio will be full of existing client work and so it’s a juggling act to get it all done. The longer an agency has to work on the pitch the better the result will be.
#3 Consider what’s important to you from an agency.
Selecting any partner (whether it’s work or indeed in your personal life) is tricky, so have a think about what you need and want before you ask an agency to pitch. If a weekly, face-to-face meeting is crucial pick an agency that’s local where you can pop in for coffee and chat - resist the temptation to ask an agency 100 miles away, making it pretty impossible for you both. There’s nothing more deflating than being told you haven’t won a pitch because you are too far away. There’s lots of value in talking to agencies before they pitch to understand what they can offer and how.
#4 Try to give an idea on budget.
The old age question of ‘what’s your budget’ is always the hardest and most avoided question of a pitch - and we understand why. But giving the agency an idea on what you want to ultimately spend helps us find the best solution to the problem, within that budget. We don’t want to waste clients’ time by pitching something that is far beyond what they want to spend. Nothing worse than over delivering on something you can’t stretch to.
#5 Let them know who the competition is!
Perhaps a little controversial, but let agencies know who they are up against. First of all, if a number of agencies have been selected it gives the agency an opportunity to decide whether they want to pitch in the first place, and secondly most agencies love to know who the competition is. Don’t forget, pitching is a commercial investment for agencies too, so assessing the chances of conversion is ultimately a business decision. There will always be a bit of healthy competition and fun rivalry between agencies and sometimes it can simply up everyone’s game.
As an agency, we often favour the route of speculative creative, as by comparison that can often produce better strategy, more creativity and promote a closer working relationship with a client. We also know pitching is commonplace and part of our calling, and ultimately it gives us the opportunity to grow and work with new businesses but it’s important that everyone gets the best out of the process.
A final thought… the more we know, the better the end result - and everyone wins.