CRM – complex by its very nature differs considerably from traditional channels, but it is a business strategy for starters. Applying the same pitch processes, principles and briefing practices as other Comms disciplines does not necessarily deliver the best results. In this session Liz Barnsdale, Managing Director, AIS and David Yates, PlanningDirector, Elvis – both leading CRM specialists – talked the recurring theme of complexity around CRM and the lack of shared language and shared understanding, leading them to the exploration and creation of a simplified CRM briefing structure.


The interactive session showcased a new template for CRM briefs that embraces communications, data and technology to monitor, manage and improve the customer experience of a brand, across all interactions. The new template has been developed by the IPA’s Customer Experience Group. Liz and David were joined at the event by Andre Johnstone, Head of Digital & Loyalty at Wagamama to provide a client perspective.

The new guidelines for CRM pitch briefing will be made available on the ISBA/IPA Good PItch website.  The guidelines were developed following IPA Customer Experience workshops, held to help build a roadmap to create a tool for a simple CRM pitch briefing process.  This was then stress-tested with ISBA’s procurement group, COMPAG, and finally taken to clients for further analysis and scrutiny.


The tools to ‘tackle’ CRM briefs.

1. What are Your CRM Requirements?
Knowing where to start should help define and accelerate the process of a shared understanding of what your CRM actual needs are.

A CRM strategy is an overall approach that answers the question why a client needs a CRM programme. When talking about CRM strategy in your business you might refer to the following areas that underpin CRM strategy.
• Communication – how to deliver your brand story at every touch point.
• Data – how to manage, analyse and gain insights from your data.
• Tech infrastructure or tech enablers.
(Underpinning all the above includes people – and crucially the capabilities of an agency – and size of investment.)


Not every single CRM brief will necessarily include all these areas but these serve as ‘prompts’ for both clients and agencies when trying to explore their CRM strategy. This approach was likened to “building blocks” that will help focus a business CRM strategy from any direction.

What does an agency do in the instance of a Trojan horse brief? For instance a content brief which is actually a CRM brief?
Start asking questions and using the ‘prompts’ to probe and help strike a common language.
The audience and the panel also discussed the evolution of CRM to mean data and technology. However all three panelists agreed that CRM means implementing customer experience, that includes data and technology amongst other things.

2. How to Go About Briefing a Partner: a roadmap to creating internal processes
From Assurance to Answers

A traditional advertising pitch route includes RFI/Creds; RFP/Submission; Pitch or ‘Your Answer.’
However a CRM pitch starts with Assurance, which includes credentials that demonstrate an agency capability, leading to Approach (test briefs and workshops) and eventually an Answer. The Approach is distinctly different to the traditional RFP process because it is about giving a sense of how an agency might tackle a CRM challenge and not about giving answers that could be implemented in the business.
A CRM pitch needs to finish at the end of the Approach and a decision needs to be made about who the business wants to take forward to define an answer.


An example of the kind of brief a client could use of Assurance. For Approach, more granular detail and supporting documentation will be required.


There was much helpful debate in the room regarding the more complex area of CRM pitches and briefs and several of the clients present exclaimed the guidance was so useful that they were going to start using the template on current CRM projects. Discussion from the event is going to be fed back into the guidance which will be launched by IPA and ISBA in the coming weeks.




By Sonoo Singh on behalf of ISBA/IPA



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