Article

James Pruden
James Pruden 6 August 2018

Why the pitch process is more important than ever in the digital world

It's the pitch process that helps to deliver a vibrant and successful digital marketing sector that benefits everyone.

Like it or loath it the pitch process has always been the pre-eminent way for hungry digital agencies to demonstrate their credentials and creative solutions to brands looking for help in their pursuit of growth.

So I was surprised to see some recent research from Creativebrief that highlighted the traditional pitch process is no longer "fit for purpose" today – with 61 per cent of brands and 93 per cent of agencies wanting to see change, and that two-thirds of advertisers would consider hiring an agency even if they refuse to take part in a traditional pitch.

In my opinion, thoughtfully put together pitches in response to a well-defined brief are still the best way for digital agencies to prove their value and communicate their high-quality solution to brands, as well as provide the best way for brands to make an informed decision when looking to solve the business challenges they face.

Pitch for high quality service

As with most things in life, before you look to buy a high-quality service, it’s important to see what’s on offer and select the right one for your business. The answer in the marketing world is the pitch process, which is by far and away the standout method for agencies to prove that they can do the job. This is backed up by recent research from Up to The Light which reveals 99 per cent of clients believe that the pitch process is good business practice for high value projects.

It’s up to the digital agency to effectively communicate how it can meet the brand’s business and marketing objectives, quickly and cost effectively, with their ideas and solutions to the brief. This is an approach that also provides full transparency as to what the working relationship will look like, which is vital to foster a long-term partnership that delivers for both, and helps avoid a costly split for both parties a few months down the line.

After all, what are other options to the pitch process? Brands make judgements on agencies based on their word rather see demonstrable evidence that they can do the job? Even if only one agency is approached, most likely based on a recommendation, they should be properly briefed to put together and deliver a standout pitch to the brand that contacted them. Then only if the brand believes the pitch meets their requirements should they appoint the agency.

Pitching benefits all

Pitching is the lifeblood of the marketing services industry, and must be embraced, not feared. It keeps the industry fresh by encouraging new ideas and better ways of doing things more cost effectively. Also, pitches help encourage agency staff to be creative and think differently about a new challenge and how to solve it, helping to ensure they remain motivated and happy in their role.

Equally as important the pitch process encourages entrepreneurship and enables ambitious independent digital agencies with new and better ideas and ways of solving challenges to compete with the larger legacy ones. This keeps the marketplace highly competitive, benefitting all, by helping ensure agencies, old and new, are on top of their game, and that only the best ideas and solutions are delivered to brands at the right price.

With the rise and rise of procurement departments and the continued focus on return on investment from brands I expect pitches will only become even more prevalent, making them a vital and inescapable reality in the marketing services world.

It’s only through the pitch process that we will have a vibrant and successful digital marketing sector that benefits everyone.

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