The Good Pitch team spend 5 minutes with Clare Campbell, the Head of Business Development at Beattie McGuinness Bungay.
o    What is the most exciting thing about pitching?

Winning. (And the post-pitch win bar tab).

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

Be really clear about what you’re looking to achieve as a business and from your chosen agency. And be available – the more time you can give to the pitch process, the better the response will be.

o    Tell us about your best / worst pitch moment.

I was on the receiving end of a pitch where an agency decided to demonstrate their flexibility and creativity LITERALLY. They employed a gymnast dressed as an account exec to perform several eye-watering moves on the boardroom table before they started the presentation. It was 8.30am and a total David Brent moment.  I’ve been     afraid of ‘pitch theatre’ ever since.

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

That the pitch process will never be the best way to see what an agency is really like to work with – its an artificial process by its very nature.

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

I’d like to see more innovative ways of pitching. Clients, like agencies, vary hugely in their culture and ambitions. It would be great to see more innovative, alternative pitches that reflected the personality and values of that business.

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

Some of our longest, most-successful client relationships have been chemistry-based pitches. We’re also big fans of the two-week pitch.

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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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David Wethey, founder of AAI and member of the IPA/ISBA Good Pitch initiative last year, shares his views on the business of pitching this week with the Marketing Society.

As part of the Good Pitch steering committee, David saw first-hand the collaboration between ‘renaissance clients and thoughtful agencies’ who agreed that pitches should be shorter, more open, completed with greater respect from both parties, and braver in finding alternatives.

Have these guidelines afforded much change to our industry? Where did it all go wrong, and what should agencies and clients do to avoid a ‘creative shoot-out’? Read David’s full article here.

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Since 2007 we have been  working with our clients  on an improved and more effective way  of selecting their strategic and creative advertising agencies. The Strategic Workshop approach has provided agencies and our clients with a methodology for really being able to assess each other and evaluate more effectively how well they would work together.

Unlike the traditional creative pitch approach or as some call it the “creative beauty parade” where you only get to see the outcome to the brief you provided,  the strategic workshop approach really lets you test drive the agency before you make a choice.

The strategic workshop approach differs from the typical creative brief in that when a shortlist of agencies is decided, instead of providing a creative brief for the agency to develop recommendations, the agencies  are provided with a strategic problem / opportunity and the  client then  undertakes  a full strategy planning day with each agency. During the strategy workshop the marketing team work with the agency using the agencies own strategic planning process to develop a solution.

The benefits of the Strategy Workshops are:

1.       It allows the marketing team to work with the agency to discover how well they work together and see the process unfold before them.

2.       It allows the marketing team to see how and who in the agency drive the process and insights (often marketers can be left wondering who worked on the idea as in the traditional process this is hidden).

3.       The marketers get to work with three agencies on a problem or project that is important to them.

4.       It takes no more time than the traditional process once you account for briefings, question and answer sessions and the final presentations.

5.       Often the strategy and the concepts are more suitable due to the fact they are effectively co-created as will be the case when appointed.

6.       Marketers report being able to make more informed decisions on agency best fit.

Both marketers http://www.trinityp3.com/testimonials/ and the agencies http://www.trinityp3.com/agency-testimonials/  that have used the Strategy Workshop process report better and more sustainable outcomes. Even the agencies that are unsuccessful find the process more open and transparent.

What do marketers and agencies say:

Marketer Testimonial http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMoyHwgxcps

Agency Testimonial http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kfH9lX1w3I

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Matt Williams of WCRS outlines Robin’s top tips:

As you’d expect from a man described on the night as ‘one of the most energetic people in the industry’, Robin affirmed that enthusiasm is still the most important asset to have as an agency approaching a pitch.

The quality of WCRS, he explained, was its ability to show gusto and relentless fervour that ensures that results will eventually come.

Appropriately, one of WCRS’ most recent ad campaigns was cited as a great example of this in action. In winning the Safestore ad business – a pitch against a number of other high profile agencies – WCRS forced the win by returning to the client on numerous occasions with new and exciting ideas. The passion and commitment to this cause ensured that not only did WCRS win the account, but the final work devised in the pitch was the same work that broke on TV just a month after the agency’s appointment.

But before WCRS bask in all the glory, Robin also cited that this was only made possible thanks to a brave Safestore client. This was someone who avoided the research process and made a decision based on his gut feel of how the work would do. Too often, Robin said, clients go with process and research rather than gut instinct, and it results in weaker work.

To read the full post, click here.

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Daren Kay, Executive Creative Director of TMW talks about his main take-outs from the IPA event, Pitching Legends: An evening with Robin Wight and Claire Beale.

 Aside from the obvious affection held for him by colleagues young – and not so – in the audience, Robin talked unapologetically and candidly on the night’s subject; Pitching Legends. On the issue of pitch-winning tag-lines for example, Robin talked articulately about respecting brand archaeology and heritage. Or to put it another way, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!’ Not even in a  pitch. Something that led him to recommend BMW use the same line in the UK (The Ultimate Driving Machine) that the company already used in the US. He also praised Adam & Eve for keeping the WCRS line for Phones4U in their latest campaign. Also, he was positively thrilled with the re-vamped WCRS Churchill ad in which the dog is driven around town by Martin Clunes to the tune of Bonnie Tyler’s ‘I need a hero’. At the end, it is Martin not Churchill who has the famous ‘Oh yes’ line. Refreshing, funny, but heritage in tact.

To read the rest of Daren’s blog post, click here.

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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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