Tag Archives: marketing

Marketing agency pitch etiquette

16 Oct Marketing agency pitch etiquette

Previously, I wrote an ebook called ‘Life’s a Pitch’, which is on this site – as well on the digital marketing information sharing site, smartinsights.com. Whilst not wishing to repeat my earlier thoughts on this subject, a recent incident made me consider agency pitch etiquette in addition to pitch process.

In July, we were invited to a TV advertising agency pitch for a very well known national network of ambulance-chasers. We were up against 2 major northern agencies (1 in Manc and the other in Brum). It was a good prospect and thus we were delighted to be invited to pitch.

We presented our creative to the owners of the firm (a father and son) at the end of July. At the end of the pitch, our hosts informed us that the other agencies were due to pitch within the forthcoming 5-week period and therefore, regrettably, we’d be waiting until then to hear the outcome.

6 weeks on and I made the traditional courtesy call to the MD of the business and ended up leaving him a message. A few days after, when I’d heard nothing, I sentAgency Pitch Etiquette him an email. A week later (again, nothing), I did the same – all very calm, all very courteous – and certainly without a modicum of desperation. In the following weeks, I repeated the process – never receiving any acknowledgement.

So on Friday, I called the MD’s direct line and to my surprise, he answered. The moment he realised it was me, he found himself rather lost for words, clearly uncomfortable as he stammered and told me they’d appointed one of our competitors. He (rather unconvincingly) fibbed about it being a very recent decision etc. I bit my lip; thanked him for the opportunity and that was the end of the call.

We win pitches and we lose them; it’s the nature of the beast. There can be no room for sour grapes and we know to accept the rough with the smooth and cope with the expected level of disappointment if we are unsuccessful. However, one does expect a level of professionalism and courtesy – and that each party follows some level of etiquette. So here are the things to keep in mind when running an agency pitch:

6 Points on Marketing Agency Pitch Etiquette:

  1. Be courteous to all of the agencies you invite to pitch. If they ask additional questions in advance of the pitch, consider that as a good thing. Plenty of creative agencies will simply take the written brief you’ve provided (assuming you’ve provided one), then respond without questioning. Questioning is good and should not be viewed as an irritation;
  2. Provide a written brief! There’s a clear link between clients being disappointed with the results of a pitch and the brief provided (“shit in, shit out” is the more crude expression, I believe). If you haven’t provided a structured brief, what else would you expect? Unless an objective of your pitch is to challenge creative agencies by seeing how they think on their feet (rather than working to a structured brief), then providing the same brief to all parties involved, will reduce your potential for disappointment come the day of the beauty parade. It’s also fair;
  3. Don’t invite too many agencies. An agency pitch should ideally have between 3-5 prospective agencies (more likely the former). Any more implies a lack of focus; notwithstanding the veritable time and financial resource required by all parties. Don’t ever feel as though you should invite additional agencies to ‘fill a space’, as is often the case. If you don’t genuinely rate them, do not invite them. Simple;
  4. During the pitch process, give every agency equal opportunities. Give them the same amount of time (it should be reasonable time. Telling an agency they have 45 minutes to present strategy plus a selection of executions/ideas is hardly polite or fair). If an agency has spent time, effort and resource on producing creative and strategic ideas for your consideration (on average, for a TV advertising pitch, we would likely spend 1-2 weeks, spending something in the region of £20k-£30k in time/visuals), the least you can do is give the agency a couple of hours of your time to meet with them and hear their ideas;
  5. After the pitch, try your best to review and select at your earliest convenience. Consider the fact that you likely gave your agencies 2-4 weeks to respond to your brief (which they did eagerly). Consider that they’ll be keen to learn whether they’ve been successful;
  6. Your first call may well be to the winning agency, whom you will doubtless surprise and delight with the fantastic news. You’ll exuberantly compliment each other and likely arrange a follow-up meeting over drinks or dinner, to discuss how you’d like to work together and how best to approach the project. Once that call’s over, don’t forget the other agencies. Call them in the same moment. Let them down with courtesy. Remember, the marketing agency industry is as small a world as yours. Agencies talk – especially when they’ve won an account. The last thing any agency wants is to hear through another (winning) agency that they’ve lost a pitch.

Teaching Grandma? If that’s the case, then ace. Last week, I learned that this stuff isn’t simple commonsense. Hence me taking the time to share these thoughts.

In summary, it’s all about courtesy. Can’t recall whether it was Jesus or one of his 12, who was quoted as having said: “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you”. I’m not religious, but I’m a big fan of manners. After all, without them, business can be absolutely miserable.

Running a marketing agency pitch

18 Nov

Life’s a pitch

I’ve spent the majority of my career aiming to be invited to join agency pitch lists. In addition, I’ve been responsible for managing the pitch process, from the point of meeting prospective clients, to extracting all the information needed and producing the pitch brief; to presenting the agency pitch alongside colleagues. I’ve done countless pitches, covering a wide selection of brands, industries, and marketing disciplines.  With all this in mind, I decided to write a short ebook guide for those brand owners and marketers who might like an agency-side view of how best to manage an agency pitch. The first part of which has been published on the digital marketing portal, Smartinsights.com (the remaining parts will follow in the coming months). It’s a comprehensive guide to the entire agency pitch process – from agency selection, to writing a decent brief, to selecting the right agency.  I hope you find it useful.  Download here…


Social vs traditional – the ongoing debate…

2 Jun

“Is social media negating the need for traditional marketing as we know it?”

If I had a quid for every blog I’ve read around this subject of late… Granted, the majority of people posting this sort of question are not likely true ‘social media experts’.

The answer to the above quandary is of course no, don’t be daft. Social networking is another communications channel. A relatively new communications channel, which is still finding a place in the world, thanks to its fast development. It’s by no means the Emperor’s New Media (pardon the shit pun) but it’s amazingly valuable and offers all-manner of opportunities. However, there’s a still a long way to go for it to find itself – oddly (in part) due to the fact that many marketers are trying to shape it into yet more interruptive marketing, rather than simply let it be.  Regardless, there are clearly countless possibilities around the corner, which I (and we) will be interested to explore when it comes to creating our brand stories.

In addition, I’m intrigued about what it’s doing to twist the arms of brands, into completely re-evaluating how they communicate their values and propositions (i.e. driving honesty).

A friend of mine recently wrote  about content being viewed in some circles as theonly form of marketing going forward. I find this to be a fascinating point, and one of the concepts that’s resonated most with me when it comes to brands communicating via social media.  Dan’s point derives from the simple view that social media is a conduit for content. Potentially massive amounts of content. The key, however, being that the content has to be TRUE and has to be HONEST. I.e. it has to be on-brand.

Now then, I don’t profess to be a social media expert – nor am I a digital evangelist. But I do know a little about brand marketing. And I’d be utterly rubbish at my job if I weren’t already acutely aware of the astounding opportunity that social media content has to offer to brands that truly understand their values – and are fully prepared to bare all in digital spaces: Not in a contrived manner (as is happening now), but with all the honesty they can muster. This way brands can use social media/digital marketing as a far-reaching extension of their brand message.

So maybe it’s more the case that the advanced use of social media by brands will bring about a healthy and vast reduction in bull-shit marketing messages – rather than the media formats used to carry them..? Entirely possible. As always though, I’d exercise caution in using any marketing channel, until the brand message is absolutely right (cart… horse…).

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