What is the most exciting thing about pitching?

Winning. Or even better – derailing the pitch.
What piece of advice would you give clients who are putting their business up to pitch?

Be completely clear about what you seek to achieve and the criteria on which you’ll base your decision.
Tell us about your best / worst pitch moment.

As a fairly junior client I had to pitch to a retail buyer who threw me out of his office – literally, picked up my briefcase and chucked it down the stairs. The following week he signed the deal. Dramatic negotiating tactics haven’t fazed me since.
What single thing do you think is most important for clients to realise when pitching?

Pitching is time-consuming and expensive; there are other ways of finding the best partner.
What one thing would you like to change about pitching today?

The pitch process is an inefficient use of resources; early selection based on chemistry and approach achieves a better result.
Please submit any ideas or experience with alternative pitch processes.

We believe in getting to know our clients off-site – in the bar, the supermarket or whatever environment their brands operate in. We get to know each other as people, and we also get close to their customers by watching them, listening to them and interacting with them.
We’ve derailed a fair number of pitches, sometimes by refusing to be involved in a full-on competitive, creative pitch. It’s made clients question the pitch process, and, of course, its shows a lot of chutzpah on our account, which is intriguing enough for prospects to want to get to know us better. If they want to fashion us into a replica of a previous agency then we are probably not the right people to talk to…

 

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What is the most exciting thing about pitching?

    Seeing colleagues experience the pitch process for the first time, flourish in it and pleasantly surprise themselves. Every pitch is an opportunity to Know More than yesterday, no matter what your role, level or experience.

     

    What piece of advice would you give clients who are putting their business up to pitch?

    The response from your agencies will only be as good (if not better…) as the brief given to them.   Being honest and open at the briefing stage is integral to finding the right agency to suit your needs.

     

    Tell us about your best / worst pitch moment.

      My worst pitch moment was getting stuck in a lift for 20 minutes with clients on the way to the pitch room, with the agency pitch team waiting to present.

      My best pitch moment was going on to win that pitch anyway.

       

      What single thing do you think is most important for clients to realise when pitching?

        Pitching costs agencies. Having a concise timetable (and sticking to it) and including contract negotiations within the timings assuages long processes and this, in turn, keeps costs down.

         

        What one thing would you like to change about pitching today?

          Make at least one face-to-face meeting mid-pitch mandatory.

          All too often a brief lands with a pitch date and communication between client and agency as good as ceases.  I believe that ongoing communication during pitches improves the experience for everyone.

           

          Please submit any ideas or experience with alternative pitch processes.

            Something I’d like to try out is very different to the typical process as we know it – complete the pitch process in a day.

            Starting with a shortlist of agencies and going in to each of their offices for a full day, being provided with unrestricted access to everywhere and everyone. Interview employees at all levels, experience the culture of the agency for yourself and see the brief being worked on live.  It’s a no frills approach, but there is no better way to truly know which agency is best for you than experiencing ‘a day in the life of’ first hand.

             

            Anna-Liisa Goshawk, New Business and Marketing Manager, Rocket, Omnicom Media Group UK

             

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            What is the most exciting thing about pitching? 

            Winning, and great ideas that the client buys and are then delivered!

            What piece of advice would you give clients who are putting their business up to pitch?

            Be honest, be transparent, be fair – treat your agency/supplier as you would expect to be treated yourself! This rarely happens if you ask me and intermediaries are a lot at fault.

            Our best experience of a pitch in this sense was with Hiscox- we just lost but the client was brilliant at explaining the scoring (we won by 0.1% but lost out on ANO area). She and the intermediary took time out to explain everything and the client invited us to their offices to explain further – most unusual!

            Tell us about your best/worst pitch moment.

            The best:

            Hearing we’d retained a piece of business against 12 agencies – we left no stone unturned and despite intense competition and a real feeling we’d lose it at the last we stormed ahead by 50% according to the client’s feedback!

            Being told that a piece of collateral we had created was being put on the Marketing Director’s desk (he wasn’t in the pitch but the brand manager loved out work so much he made the effort to share our work).

            The worst:

            Being told we’d lost a pitch when we’d won on scoring by just 0.1%;

            Hearing after the pitch (which we lost!) that the client wanted to hire us after the chemistry meeting!

            What single thing do you think is most important for clients to realise when pitching?

            Be totally transparent throughout.

            What one thing would you like to change about pitching today?

            The goal posts changing!

            Please submit any ideas or experience with alternative pitch processes.

            ’20 Slides in 20 Minutes’ was a brief a client gave our PR company Weber Shandwick. I loved this because it really makes you work on your selling/persuading and telling the story in the best and most passionate way.

             

            Natalie Yorke

            New Business Director @UMLondon

             

             

             

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            • What is the most exciting thing about pitching?

             

            Pitches are the best time to learn about and solve the client’s most deeply held pain points – from the logical, commercial issues, to the private hidden agenda that they may not have even admitted to themselves.

            Sitting at the intersection of the client’s beliefs, ambition and business imperatives, what better environment to learn about people, pressure and profit?

            And with my Code hat on, delivering enterprise-level Marketing Technology to clients alongside our agency partners means I get to see the transformational power of ideas and technology at the same time.

             

            • What piece of advice would you give clients who are putting their business up to pitch?

             

            Can I cheat and have two?

            Focus on defining the problem and let the agencies worry about the solution – particularly in the realm of Marketing Technology, where a little misplaced knowledge can misdirect the whole pitch process.

            And be open; the more you let us in, the more we speak, the better the solution you’ll get. Like The King said, a little less documentation, a little more conversation please.

             

            • Tell us about your best / worst pitch moment.

             

            Pitches can be long, drawn-out affairs – often understandably so, particularly in this economic climate.

            But, for me, the very best pitch experiences are those where excitement and momentum are easy to maintain because both client and agency are at ease with one another and feel in sync.

            As a dyed-in-the-wool new biz bore, I’m obliged to use a relationship analogy here – it’s like the blissful honeymoon period after guy meets gal (or whatever your persuasion), when everything just feels right.

            My worst pitch moments are when it becomes obvious that you’ve failed in qualification – when the client doesn’t know what they want, they can’t help you to define it, and everyone’s faced with tough decisions or dysfunctional outcomes.

             

            • What single thing do you think is most important for clients to realise when pitching?

             

            Although my experience is that really poor pitch practice is actually quite rare, I’d remind clients that it only really hurts them in the long run.

            For one, a smart, busy agency will run a mile from a daft pitch, so the client loses access to top talent. And cost-cutting pitches self-inflict poor service levels, a bad reputation, and poor ROI.

            Garbage in, garbage out, as they say. And pay peanuts, get monkeys. They’re my two hackneyed clichés on the subject.

             

            • What one thing would you like to change about pitching today?

             

            I’d like to see more innovation – from clients and agencies.

            The best agencies are already expanding their definition of ‘Creative’. This enables them to present skills and partners for answering broader marketing and business questions – not least, ahem, questions around their clients’ technology needs (I’m allowed one lairy plug, right?).

            Painting from a broader palette not only keeps me in work, it also affords agencies a point-of-difference that, most clients will tell you, is often missing.

            Different briefs and different agencies with different skills. Make it less of a buyer’s market. That would make pitches more exciting, not to mention less cost-led.

             

            • Please submit any ideas or experience with alternative pitch processes

             

            As Churchill almost said, pitching is the worst form of agency selection except all the others that have been tried. So let’s think of some more.

            I don’t see any real alternatives to pitching, but yes, there should be any number of widely proven alternative ways of pitching, particularly those that don’t involve giving away ideas for free.

            After all, the client holds all the cards; they’re paying our wages and it’s an oversupplied market. So if they ask a pitch-list of 50 agencies to jump – and to pay for the privilege, and probably even to bring their own biscuits – at least 40 will probably ask how high.

            So avoiding a beauty parade seems unlikely. Just like I’m unlikely not to get three quotes to replace my bloody boiler.

            And any enforced code of practice to eradicate ‘bad’ pitches won’t work. It would be impossible to police, potentially constitute restriction of trade and, worse still, offer no incentive for clients to sign-up.

            So yes, finding alternate ways of pitching is definitely a better idea.

            In which case, the ‘Good Pitch’ initiative is a brilliant model to follow – get both parties together and make sure the debate is about mutual gain, rather than agency bleating. The more both clients and agencies alike can hero best practice, the better – particularly towards a younger audience, who get to see a better way of working before bad practices become old habits.

            Naming-and-shaming the worst offenders will also help. And not just the clients; after all, who’s the more foolish – the fool, or the fool who follows him?

             

            Robin Bonn, Business Development Director, Code Worldwide

            @robonn, @CodeWorldwide

             

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            1. What is the most exciting thing about pitching?

            Being part of a pitch team when there’s a cracking brief to start off with, where your pitch team gels brilliantly, where the energy stays high throughout the pitch, where the pitch content and presentation are spot-on and where both you and the Client know that the pitching team would walk over hot coals to win this business…and then you do.

            2. What piece of advice would you give clients who are putting their business up to pitch?

            Keep the lines of communication with the pitching agencies open all the way through (not all clients do!)

            3. Tell us about your best/worst pitch moment.

            Best – PHD’s retaining Cadbury and extending our win through picking up Kraft too. Superb pitch from start to finish.

            Worst – putting on 5lbs through some very extensive product testing during the same Cadbury/Kraft pitch.

            4. What single thing do you think is most important for clients to realise when pitching?

            Allow agencies enough time from briefing to pitch to ensure that you get their best possible responses to your cracking pitch brief.

            5. What one thing would you like to change about pitching today?

            The volume of PowerPoint involved.

            6. Please submit any ideas or experience with alternative pitch processes.

            My alternative pitching idea is that you contact me via sam.phillips@omnicommediagroup.com to discuss any different ways you’re thinking about pitching – we’re always open to conversation.

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