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“We have brilliant creative, great ideas, we can do the job ……but have they bought into us as an agency?”

  —   25 November 2014   —   Opinion

Technology, drinks and writing in a note pad

Pitching is tough. You may be one of those who enjoys the buzz, the pressure and competitive nature of the pitch situation but there’s no denying its hard work, time consuming and forces you to examine and over-think every facet of what makes you good as an agency.

Venturing into the unknown

When we don’t know the team and personalities that we’re pitching to in a tense, silent and unfamiliar board room, how do we appear to be capable of being everything to everyone to cover all bases but at the same time promise to deliver a tailored service perfectly suited to their needs?

This isn’t intended to be a ‘how to win a pitch’ blog but more a discussion around how the ‘right fit’ with a potential client happens on a number of levels.

In my opinion it boils down to:

  • Have we demonstrated that we can do what you need us to do?
  • Do we understand you as a business and what you are trying to achieve?
  • Is the pricing structure right?

Then the crucial……

  • Can we work together?

This is the all-important chemistry and personality fit which everyone believes is the element beyond an agency’s control. If it’s there it’s there, if it’s not – then unlucky. However, my belief is that all too often we spend more time talking through our credentials, relevant experience and creative ideas, that we fail to give enough time saying the things that show more of ‘us’ as people and reassures the potential client that we are a company that they could see themselves actually working with on a day to day basis.

Help the ‘chemistry’ along (on both sides of the table)

Why should they believe what we’re saying? Have we backed up all our points? Case studies of work we’ve done for clients are great but talking about how we successfully communicate and work with other client teams on a day to day basis shows a new level of detail that a potential client can relate to and can see it working for them. Plus it reveals more of your personality and your way of working and in my experience marketing managers respond well to that.

Do we sound genuine, enthusiastic and passionate about helping them reach their goals? Do we have natural team synergy? This can’t be faked. We’re doing the pitch because we believe in the project – so that has to come across. Select the right people for the pitch and involve them from the beginning and each should present their own part with the aim of the team spirit and sense of collaboration shining through.

Don’t just imply it – say it and recognise the value of great customer service

Have we taken the time to convince our audience that our customer service and the time we will invest in them WILL be value for money? Have we mentioned that we’ll think, be proactive and make their lives easier….and can prove it with case studies of how we already do it for other people? Have we convinced them that we will be switched on and pleasant people at the end of the phone when they call? We all automatically think – yes of course! we’ve said that and implied all that throughout the course of our presentation - we are a great marketing agency and we do all those things….but in reality oh so often we don’t actually give this part the air time it deserves in a pitch situation.

Yes clients love seeing the creative response to a brief and it is an important factor when selecting an agency but often we neglect the fact that the account management and the ‘we WILL work well with your team’ element could actually be the deal breaker. Good client service and process should not be assumed as a given and should be built in as a fundamental part of the pitch. Often clients who have little experience of working with agencies don’t appreciate exactly what a help you could be on a daily basis. I believe taking the time to address all those points around account management and customer service is as important as the creative, brand messaging and financials. I’m learning from our successes that many of our clients new and old think that too.

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