This post is by Nathan Hodges, TrinityP3‘s General Manager. Nathan applies his knowledge and creativity to the specific challenges of marketing management, with a particular focus on team dynamics and behavioural change.
We’ve written before about why a pitch is often the wrong answer to the wrong question. But sometimes it’s the right answer. When it is, then in our experience full management of a pitch process takes around 190 hours.
This surprises some people. Until, that is, they understand what a thorough, comprehensive pitch process actually looks like.
But first of all, just for clarity, here’s what it doesn’t look like.
What it isn’t
It’s not 190 hours of fireside chats, advice and pontification about the good old days when the consultant was at such-and-such a traditional agency. Nor is it 190 hours of blindly beating agencies down on price to justify your own costs. It’s not 190 hours of administration and diary management.
It is also not some ex-agency person nominating the top handful of agencies that come to mind either. And it’s certainly not 190 hours of a consultant desperately pretending to be an expert in a completely unfamiliar field – like an ex-agency TV producer running a digital tech pitch, or an old media buyer pretending to know about creative for example.
Tier One – Full management
190 hours with us will cover the full management of the process. So, in other words: agreeing the brief; matching the brief to our database of over 2000 agencies in all categories; aligning the specific needs of the client to the detailed profiles we have on agency staff, capabilities, clients and expertise, drafting a candidate agency long-list; working with the client and agencies to reach a shortlist; managing and scoring the credentials, chemistry, strategic workshop and creative stages of the pitch process; defining the client’s scope of work and issuing an RFP to the competing agencies; benchmarking the responses for multiples (rate, overhead and profit), resource levels, resource mix and approach to PBR where required; and then finally negotiating the remuneration agreement.
That’s what takes the time, and it’s normally spread across two or three consultants with deep and specialised knowledge in the different aspects of the process or in the agency discipline in question.
Tier Two – Tailored service
Plenty of our clients either don’t need the full 190 hours from us, or don’t have the budget to allocate to full management. They might, for instance, have the internal resources and time to manage the overall process, and therefore use us to undertake the more specialised financial or market search stages. Or they may ask us to provide independent advice on a mandatory procurement-led process. That’s always fine with us, and we’re nearly always able to find a way to match budget and scope in such a way as to provide value.
There are at least a couple of common models here involving less time and cost than full management, but still allowing specialist input at critical points in the process. They might involve, say, 50 hours for pitch financials only, or 70 for financials and a market search.
Tier Three – With a free set of steak knives
When pitch consultants offer full management for less than the price of a tailored model, clients should start to worry about their money being wasted.
It’s very easy to set yourself up as a pitch consultant. There is a very low cost of entry. All you really need to do to get started is hang up a sign and tell everyone you are a pitch consultant. If your price is low enough and your promise big enough, then clients will start to come through the door. For a while, you’ll look and sound convincing. And if your business model is to treat pitches as a loss leader, then you may feel things are going very well indeed for the first few months.
But will you be able to provide a CRM specialist for a CRM pitch, or a PR specialist for a PR pitch? Or will it still be you the generalist still rocking up at every meeting? What if data management questions arise? Or if the client questions who should be managing social media?
How will you access benchmarks on remuneration and rate for that digital build project scope of work the client has developed? Let’s hazard a guess – you’re going to handle all these questions as well, aren’t you? Really?
Because in the end a pitch consultant will have to deliver on the pitch process itself. And if they are trying to do that at a 75% price discount, or by working just 25% of the hours the task should take, it’s going to be hard even in the short term to convince clients that they haven’t simply wasted their money.
Even if it’s not – in relative terms – a lot of money.
Pay your money, take your choice
Of course, we recognise there are always sharks in any given market. And we know of plenty of reputable consultants competing with the less qualified outfits through simple honesty and setting clear expectations. We’re always happy to make these connections if TrinityP3 isn’t, for whatever reason, right for some prospective clients.
But the old saying still holds. In this field, as everywhere else, when something looks too good to be true, it probably is.
To find our how TrinityP3 Marketing Management Consultants can help you further with this, click here.