Pitching / tendering is a pretty central theme in most agency blogs. People like to read them. Don’t they? Anyway, here’s another one based on our experiences.
As we thunder towards our tenth year in business, we’ve gained a fairly diverse set of experiences when it comes to pitching and tendering. As you might imagine, our early days were full of bright-eyed, youthful exuberance (not to mention the sheer terror of trying to earn a living!) when we hurled ourselves at any available opportunity. Here are a few ‘highlights’…
We went through a phase of doing a huge number of tenders, which as you may know involve a huge amount of paperwork and admin. Nevertheless, we applied ourselves to the task and sure enough, we were appointed to no less than three agency rosters around 2008-09. “This could be great!” we trilled over a post-work celebratory beer or two. Weeks passed. Silence. Hmmm. Needless to say, we’re still waiting for a brief. From any of them.
One memorable pitch involved a ‘prestigious brand in the automotive industry’. We were invited to present ideas for two briefs and after a really positive meeting and all the right comments from the client contact, we were poised to start work. Again, silence fell. We subsequently found out the day of the pitch was their last day and the project, as far as the client was concerned, was on hold. We presume it still is. Cheers…
The author’s personal favorite, however, involves a visitor attraction project. We’d got through the first credentials stage and were invited in to present our ideas “in an informal meeting”. On arrival we were ushered through the historic, opulent surroundings through plush carpeted, oak paneled, chandelier lit corridors to the meeting location. The priceless antique door creaked open to reveal approximately a dozen suited and booted people peering expectantly at us. Informal, you say? Perhaps we should have brought our butler and chauffeur in with us to even things up…
Moving on from the ‘Carry on Graphic Designing’ theme, we’ve pitched in some unusual / memorable locations too. Such as…
1) The boardroom of a Premier League Football Club
2) A private jet on a flight to Germany
3) The back of a race truck at a very wet and windy Oulton Park
These three all resulted in a win, just in case you were wondering if we’d ever won any work, ever… 😉
Over time, as we gained experience and with a guiding hand here and there (you know who you are) we tempered our enthusiasm and became more selective (and less desperate!). Today, we analyse every potential opportunity based on the following;
a) Is it a good fit for us, creatively and in terms of industry sector?
b) We’re not just making up the numbers, are we?
c) Can we work with the individuals involved?
d) Commercially, does it add up?
Happily, we manage to answer yes to all of these in the majority of cases. We’re also much more comfortable in declining an opportunity as well, and to be confident in explaining why. For the most part, the potential clients we come into contact with these days – certainly in comparison to maybe five years ago – have a greater awareness of the amount of work involved in pitching. Is that an industry wide thing? Or just the type of companies / sectors we have been operating in? We’re not too sure. Additionally, in the last few years we’ve actually taken part in some (well, two) paid pitches, another indication of the client company recognising the effort and cost a pitch takes an agency.
That awareness and understanding leads to a greater degree of mutual respect between agency and client, and in our experience at least, leads to a longer, more mutually beneficial working relationship. Which can only be a good thing.