Article

Spencer Waldron
Spencer Waldron 22 June 2017

Agencies Pitches - it's all about collaboration, creativity, and chemistry

Today, any agency knows that working for new business takes a great deal of investment. The problem is, more project work means more pitches. With a higher volume of pitches, there’s a risk of quality and creativity suffering. With this context in mind, I explore what agencies should focus on in a pitch to clinch the next deal.

We’re a far cry from the Mad Men era. Back then, many marketers won business based on who they knew, rather than what they knew, and the big idea was all that really mattered.

In the 1950’s, agencies sold a very different proposition. They held the keys to unlocking television, the most powerful medium available. Now, with so many effective channels to communicate through, and brands bringing talent in-house, agencies are battling to show their value.

There’s a lack of certainty about the future, particularly with seven in ten in-house marketers now preferring to work with agencies on a project basis, rather than retainers. Of course, any agency worth its salt is used to constantly adapting to client priorities and industry expectations. But in the current climate, agencies assume that simply means delivering more, for less money. Is that really the case?

Any agency knows that working for new business takes a great deal of investment. The problem is, more project work means more pitches. With a higher volume of pitches, there’s a risk of quality and creativity suffering. With this context in mind, what should agencies focus on in a pitch and what will clinch the deal?

1)     Pitch your idea creatively

One thing that hasn’t changed since the glory years of the Mad Men era is the need for creativity. To be taken seriously by brands, ideas need to be original, high quality and memorable – this remains the foundation of the pitch process.

But while the ideas need to strike the right chord, they also need to be presented creatively too. The greatest idea can be shot down if it’s communicated poorly. The art form of storytelling is something that marketers pride themselves on. They understand it’s a vital tool to get buy-in from consumers. Selling the creative in a pitch is no different to engaging a consumer – a narrative needs to be woven around the ideas in a clear and visual way to ensure they resonate with potential clients.

A research from Prezi suggests that 91 percent of brand-side marketers would doubt an agency’s creative ability if they had a poor pitch presentation, even if they liked the ideas. Ensuring that ideas are showcased in an engaging and clear way (whatever the budget of the project) is key to converting the business.

2)     Collaboration - the new chemistry?

Creativity is certainly the lifeblood of the industry, however when we asked what in-house marketers wanted from an agency, the top response was actually ‘collaboration’. Three quarters of brand-side marketers heralded it as the key trait they’re looking for in an agency, trumping all other attributes.

Looking back to the Mad Men era, the relationship was fairly one-sided. The agency had the know-how, the contacts, the skill set, the means. The current landscape could’t be more different. The proliferation of devices and growth of social media sites means that brands can reach audiences at multiple touch points, in numerous ways. Brands have adapted to the host of marketing opportunities and prioritised accordingly, investing in great in-house talent.

Agencies still have a central role to play, but they’ve had to navigate a variety of new stakeholders and priorities. The need to prove ROI is ever more prevalent. From the outset, brands want to know that their agency will be an extension of their team and help them exceed expectations.

In a pitch, great chemistry with a potential client will help show that they’re open to collaborating. And in any presentation, don’t be afraid to be conversational and involve the audience from the outset. It reinforces a collaborative way of working and flexibility in evolving ideas.

3)     Being productive in an always on world

After collaboration – and ahead of creativity – brand-side marketers rated productivity as the second most important attribute for an agency.

Given mounting competition to secure interest and loyalty from consumers, a brand needs its agency to be nimble and proactive, delivering activity efficiently and keeping up with the market. By keeping to time in a pitch, showcasing experience in proactive work with other clients, and remembering to talk in terms of tangible results, agencies can clearly demonstrate just how productive they are. However, it’s something that’s often forgotten when selling the creative.

So what makes a winning pitch according to brands? Showing collaboration, productivity, and presenting ideas creatively. These are the attributes that in-house marketers have voted as the key elements of a stellar pitch.  Ultimately, the right pitch presentation shows personality, provokes and allows conversation, and fosters an environment for good chemistry.

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