How on earth do client companies create a pitch list? We’ve had a few positive and negative experiences of the pitch process recently. Given our MD’s experience of both sides of the fence, here are his thoughts…
The Numbers Game
How many agencies make a pitch? I suppose it depends on the type and size of the project. For agencies, we’ve all put our heart and soul into a pitch and then not been successful. For the client, sitting through presentation after presentation is hardly a good use of time, so how do we make things better for both client and agency?
Answer? Be selective. Personally, I like to see pitch lists compiled (at least in part) based on credentials. A good Marketing professional with a clear brief and an afternoon’s research should be able to identify three agencies that are well capable of delivering what they are looking for. Alternatively, why not consider some form of initial ‘expression of interest?’ This generally involves a credentials submission along with some recent / appropriate work examples.
Adhering to the above helps to limit the amount of (unpaid) work the agency has to undertake, and also makes the client look harder at the agencies they approach in the first place.
Pitch Fee? Or Pitch Free?
Ah, this is always a hot topic. The great and the good of the industry might tell you ‘we don’t free pitch’. Good for them. But I bet they did at some point. Should we ever find ourselves in that rarified atmosphere, we’ll let you know. But for now, we’ll live in the real world and acknowledge that free pitching is an occupational hazard. As far as paid pitches go, they do exist although in our experience, in the main they are little more than a gesture of goodwill and barely cover costs. It’s great that some clients make the effort though. How common are they? Well, we’ve undertaken two paid pitches in six years of Ingenious, so make of that what you will.
Your agency, your responsibility
If I can defend the client side here, there’s no point agencies whining about the unfairness of the pitch process if they’re not prepared to look before they leap. There’s a huge temptation to go for every opportunity that comes your way, secure in the belief that your creative brilliance will see you through. The reality, of course, is somewhat different.
Just as agencies implore clients to be selective, the same is true in reverse. We have gone through stages, particularly in the early days, when we’ve pitched at every time of asking. Experience, workload and understanding of your strengths eventually teach you to be a little more circumspect before reaching for the layout pad.
Look at the client. Look at the brief. Ask yourself this. Are we making the numbers up? Can we win this? If the answers are ‘no’ and ‘yes’ respectively, then go for it. Unsure? Why not request a pre-pitch meeting with the potential client to understand a bit more about them? If you don’t think it’s for you, then have the confidence to say so, and explain why. You never know, it might actually do you more good in the long run…