The Agency or the Client? Who Owns the Brief? That was the question on the first day of the Good Pitch Week that threw up everything from an 1856 map of Soho to tales of pulling the perfect pint of Guinness to discussions about mediocrity and how not to write boring briefs.

The panel, chaired by Debbie Morrison, ISBA Director of Consultancy, included Ben Rhodes, Director of Customer Marketing at Royal Mail; Direct Line Head of Brand and Marketing Planning, Piers Newson-Smith; Henry Daglish, Managing Director, Arena Media; and Saatchi & Saatchi Chief Strategy Officer Richard Huntington.

Whose brief

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Stefan Bradley, Research, Insight and Operations Director at The Art of New Business brings us another fascinating write-up, this time of his own event.

TAONB Nov 2013 6

Ian Priest highlighted the need for adaptation in his keynote presentation on Tuesday and it’s true, times they are a-changing. Agencies are adapting their business models and diversifying their service offerings to become more agile. So you’d think that the same would apply to the way they go about winning new business wouldn’t you? Not according to the research we (The Art of New Business) carried out this year.

It was the 4th event from Good Pitch Week and we were up. Sarah Bradley presented the findings of our 2013 UK client and Global agency research before leading a (very lively) panel debate. Emma Harris, former Director of Sales and Marketing at Eurostar; Steph Brimacombe, Group Marketing Director at VCCP; Zaid Al-Qassab, Managing Director of P&G Beauty and Richard Robinson, Managing Partner at Oystercatchers were our special guests and, with help from an eagerly vocal audience, we discussed the issue of whether agencies practice what they preach when it comes to marketing themselves.

 

Frustrated clients

Our client research, carried out in association with The Marketing Academy, asked senior clients from companies including Kimberly-Clark, GSK, BP Castrol, Adidas, Mondelez International and Phones 4U to share with us their feelings regarding agency new business tactics. Chief amongst the results was the frustration of being bombarded with up to 20 unsolicited agency approaches every day.

Clients need to be able to trust agencies to deliver; they want to see that they can address the specific business problems that keep them awake at night. The generic, mass-mailer style cold approach that many agencies seem to favour fails to deliver on both of these counts.

This avalanche of communication isn’t limited to telephone and email either. Professional networking sites like LinkedIn are becoming devalued, such is the volume of approaches clients receive. This avenue is rapidly becoming the new ‘cold call’ and clients told us they’re considering locking accounts to get respite from the onslaught.

The panel agreed. Zaid commented he never responds to cold approaches from agencies unless they’re recommended by his contacts; the expensive mailers that land on his desk either go in the bin or get given to his children to play with.

So if the feeling of frustration in clients is so prolific and we know how clients think agencies should be approaching business development, how do agencies measure up? Our global agency new business attitudes survey (in association with Worldwide Partners, the world’s biggest network of owner operated agencies) revealed some interesting perspectives:

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