Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pitch Pitch Pitch

When even the guys who make a dollar out of organising pitches say they are fatally flawed, it might be time for a change.

A recent AdNews article got me thinking again about pitches. Most agency types hate them. But an increasing number of marketers are realising that pitching, as a process is slow, ineffective and ultimately very expensive.

You may seem to be getting free submissions from creative agencies when they pitch, but you are not.

Let’s say every large agency is spending, 10% of their time and resources on pitching. They can only pay for this by charging existing clients. It’s not as though they have other income streams.

So every client they have is paying an extra 10% just to cover the cost of pitching. That’s right. You are paying your agency to chase other work. And if they win and it conflicts with your category, you may be dumped as well!

It’s nuts!

Unfortunately most of the alternatives suggested by the ‘Pitch Doctors’ seem like variations on the theme of, ‘tell me again how we would work together’. Workshops and ‘getting to know you’ sessions are becoming more popular.

Either way, the personal charm of senior agency management makes or breaks the deal. Then management steps a side and a bunch of strangers actually does the work.

Is there a better way? Yes.

An incredibly effective way to test real working relationships is to simply work together. The client chooses an agency they’ve heard good things about and briefs a single real life project. Then they get to see how the real, behind the scenes, agency works.

Do the creatives get narky when asked for changes? Is the finished art full of typos? Does the agency hire quality suppliers? Are the contact people 12 years old? Does the agency rely on a conveyer belt of freelancers?

These are questions that will actually affect the clients business. And they are questions that are impossible to answer at a pitch or its modern variation, the workshop.

When the project is over the client can give more work to the agency. Or if the reality has turned out to be less than inspiring they can try a new one.

The client will save a lot of time, a lot of money and they’ll build up a very strong knowledge of who really performs.

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