The ‘Speed Dating’ Approach

This process focusses on the upfront part of a pitch, the investigation of the agency marketplace, effectively replacing the chemistry meetings. It enables a client to meet multiple, often different types of agencies in one go, in a short space of time to get a feel for the differing offers and services.

Example: influencer marketing: there are lots of different avenues to access influencers: agencies; platforms; social talent agents etc and a client may want to meet a selection – this is the ideal format for this approach.

When to consider a ‘Speed Dating’ approach

  • Where a hybrid of capabilities are required – no obvious agency type
  • Where the client is less experienced in the discipline and wants to explore various options
  • When considering non-traditional agency offers
  • The client wishes to explore agency capabilities in depth without a formal chemistry meeting
  • If time is of the essence, no time for lengthy meetings over a multiple days
  • If the client would like the process to work in a less formal and more agile way
  • If the client has multiple stakeholders who need to meet the agencies and diaries are going to be a challenge.

Process for a ‘Speed Dating’ approach

Long List

Even if the longlist contains an eclectic mix of agencies of different shapes, sizes and backgrounds, it is still very important that you ensure the right agencies appear on the long list, agencies must have the right skills and capabilities. Working with a specialist to produce this list will be helpful. 


  • Capacity to meet up to 10 agencies in 1 day
  • 1 venue (ISBA has hosted most of these to date)
  • 20 – 30 min slots
  • Screen free – agencies can produce a leave behind to summarise their agency offering and what they have spoken about on the day (we recommend no more than 5 A4 pages)
  • Discursive – the aim here is for the agencies to deliver an overview of their services, but also to establish the chemistry between client / agency which is why it can be helpful to ask a question upfront


It is essential the agencies are delivered a brief at least a week before the meeting. The brief should include:

  • An outline of the format for the day: date; time slot, location (consider alphabetical allocation), size of leave behind, the number of agency attendees permitted, the number of agencies attending etc.
  • Attendees from the client side
  • Background to the brief
  • Agency capabilities being sought
  • Optional: A question to help guide the conversation at the meeting. For example “Tell us a bit about how your agency works and its ethos” or “What work have you done that you are most proud of”
  • Next steps in the process
  • Contact details


  • Agency expectations must be managed. There needs to be complete transparency on the process; the amount of agencies being seen should all be shared so that the agency can decide whether they wish to take part or not.
  • Chemistry– in order to get the most out of this format, it is essential that the client is prepared to engage and interact with the agencies from the outset – this is not a formal chemistry meeting which can often be quite one way where the agency presents to client. All of that is removed here and so try to avoid it becoming a ‘dragons den’ type situation.
  • Consider the room format – perhaps remove the tables or sit in a less formal room / sofas etc.
  • This approach is not for everybody – remember this will be an uncomfortable scenario for some clients / agencies. Both parties must be completely prepped and briefed on what to expect.


  • Client benefits from a broad exposure to many agencies in a short space of time
  • Cost and time effective for the agency, pitching is expensive and this cuts back on some costs both in terms of people time in prepping and hosting meetings, it also ensures there is no death by PowerPoint
  • There is more focus on the actual agency services and chemistry between both parties.