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27 March 2012 - 3:47pm | posted by | 2 comments

Looking for a new agency? Ten tips to run the perfect pitch

Dylan BoggDylan Bogg

It should start with a shortlist and end with a beer, apparently. Dylan Bogg, CEO at Big Communications, offers an agency perspective of how a client pitch would play out in a perfect world.

Lots has been written about the principles of pitching over the years.

Should we?
Shouldn’t we?
They’re not fair.
Not a level playing field.
Blah blah.

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they are part of our life.

However, there’s nothing more frustrating for an Agency than a bad one.

So, here’s my top tips on how to get the most out of Agencies when running a pitch.

1. Make a shortlist. Not a long list
“Congratulations. You’ve been shortlisted for the pitch.” Hoorah!
“You’re one of 6 Agencies making a presentation.” Huh?
You’re either covering your derriere or you have no idea what you are looking for.
Speak to as many as you like.
Review them.
Meet them.
Grill them.
But 3 is all you need.

2. Give us a chance
So, you’ve deliberated over the process for months, spent weeks poring over the brief, and finally made the brave commitment to forge ahead with your ambitious plans. Plans that could improve the fortunes of your entire corporation if implemented with aplomb.
And you give the Agency a week to work on the pitch.

3. Love your brief
The response to your brief will only be as good as the brief itself.
Give it some love.

4. Encourage inquisitive minds
Great work comes from being inquisitive.
We ask questions.
Loads of them.
Some might be totally futile.
Some may unearth gems of information.
So, make yourself available to give us the answers.
We’re spending tens of thousands of pounds working on your business for free. Humour us.
You might just find that it helps.

5. Don’t be fair
“If you ask any questions we’ll have to share them with the other Agencies.”
Why? To be fair? Nonsense.
You wouldn’t pass great questions from a candidate in a job interview on to the next candidate.
You’d consider the questions as an informative way to build your picture of their grasp and capability in the role.
Do the same with Agencies.

6. Hit the road
There is no better way to get a feel for an Agency than popping your head in the door.

7. Get the right people in the room
If you’ve done the right thing (see point 1 above) then it shouldn’t be too time consuming for the decision makers to be in the room.

8. Quick is good
“Great presentation. You’ll hear in 6 weeks.”
The enthusiasm for your business will now fly out of the Agency like an inflatable balloon being let off at a kids party.
Make a quick decision.
It will deliver you a highly motivated team ready to pounce on your challenges.

9. Be honest. Even if it hurts
The Agency has had many a late night working on your business.
They’ve put their heart and soul into the presentation.
And it was tosh.
Tell them the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
It’s too easy to tell them they were a close second when they weren’t.
We want to learn from our mistakes.
Please help us.

10. Grab a beer
You’ve made your decision.
Celebrate it.
Let the team meet the team.
It’s old school.
But it works.

They say that pitching is the worst form of agency selection except all the others that have been tried.

So, until something else comes along, let’s try and help each other deliver a good one.


28 Mar 2012 - 12:54
graeme_longstaff's picture

100% in agreement with this, the world would be a much better place if this is how pitching happened, but let's be honest...99% of this list will never happen.

If it ever does Dylan, I'll post up a lovely cross dressing photo of me from a party...oh wait.

28 Mar 2012 - 17:44
tim_newton's picture

It should start with a shortlist and end with a beer, the reality is it often works the other way round. How often have we all been part of a thinly veiled exercise in beating up the incumbent or generating free ideas? Pitching should be a last resort for both parties. There are plenty of other ways to test other agencies and get new ideas without resprting to the lengthy and expensive process of a pitch. Rather than pitching we find that working with clients, maybe initially on a couple of projects leads to confidence from client and deeper understanding from agency and it just becomes a natura progression to widen the relationship. It's a bit like dating before getting married - and no expensive divorces either!


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