Agencies that sell their service through a polished and creative presentation, indicating exactly how they will meet their client's needs, stand a far better chance of creating a lasting impression with the client. This is what makes an advertising agency pitching for new business stand out from the rest of the contenders. In essence, agencies offer similar services and you differentiate yourself from others by taking the “polished and connected” principle into account from the start.
The IAS recently attended the Ad Forum World Summit in New York, at which 35 other agency/client company consultants from all over the world were present. The week-long summit consisted of consultant visits to more than 32 ad agencies, large and small, in New York for an update on what agencies are doing to re invent themselves in the digital age. As well as these visits, a number of “industry gurus” shared their experiences with the consultants, one of whom focuses only on the new business process.Critical
According to my 20 Tips on Handling the New Business Pitch Process, which includes the expert input of Cleve Langton - the new business specialist mentioned above who has directed 250 pitches both locally and internationally - two of the most critical factors that agencies must take into account are to ensure that they know the full scope of the work, as well as the budget that is allocated to the business.
We learned at the summit, in discussion with both Langton and the other consulting companies in our industry, that up to 50% of agencies proceed with a pitch without really knowing what the budget is and the related scope of work related to it. By knowing the full scope of work as well as the budget constraints, an agency is much better equipped and able to understand exactly what the client wants, as well as what they may need in future.
A number one pitch killer is the lack of clear linear linkage between the strategy and the creative execution. In a pitch presentation that disconnect is often, fatally obvious. A tip to avoid that: an agency pitch team must ensure is once the creative output has been finalised, the strategic team review it and ensure that their strategy correlates with the creative output.
Clients buy the team as well as the advertising agency, so it is important for everyone on the agency team to have a role during the pitch process. An agency's biggest advantage is the quality of the team that will represent the client's brand or service.
Often, top agency teams will present in order to win the client and that does make complete sense. But it is important for at least one member of the future account handling team to be present and able to create a rapport between both parties, from the first client meeting at the chemistry stage right through to the final presentation. Connection
For any relationship to work there has to be a connection. Connecting with the audience is crucial to winning the trust of the client and this has become more crucial in recent times. One of the key learnings from the New York summit was that these days it is about a great deal more than the high tech content of a Powerpoint presentation.
Position on the pitch list has been a bugbear of agencies for years. Agency position on the pitch list has no bearing on the client's final selection, provided the pitches have not continued for more than a two-day period. In addition, as intermediaries, we make certain that after every presentation, the client immediately rates the agency on a scorecard. It is easy to forget important details during the pitch process when there are multiple agencies involved.
If an agency wants to pull out of a pitch due to a belief by the agency that it does not stand a chance of winning, don't be too hasty in pulling out. It is a dynamic process, changing constantly even after the pitch presentation. Until the ink is dry on the contract between the new agency and the client, I would recommend that agencies stay on board.
Lastly, while alternative media does sell, it is still regarded as window dressing and should only constitute 10% of the total spend. It is a nice-to-have on the schedule which can add excitement to the creative strategy but the agency will still be required to indicate how it will deliver real media value.