Managing Marketing: The importance of an insightful and robust agency search & selection process

Managing Marketing is a podcast hosted by TrinityP3 Founder and Global CEO, Darren Woolley. Each podcast is a conversation with a thought-leader, professional or practitioner of marketing and communications on the issues, insights and opportunities in the marketing management category. Ideal for marketers, advertisers, media and commercial communications professionals.

Kylie Ridler-Dutton is a Senior Consultant at TrinityP3 and a specialist in agency search and selection. Here she chats with Darren regarding the agency search and selection process and the considerations required when planning and managing a successful pitch process for a wide range of agency types including creative, media, digital, social, PR, technology suppliers and more.

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Transcription:

Darren:

Welcome to Managing Marketing and we’re back in Sydney, after a short trip to London and New York, and in Sydney I get a chance to sit down with Kylie Riddler-Dutton, who is affectionately known at TrinityP3 as the Riddler. And we’re having a chat about pitching because in the last few years that Kylie’s been with us she’s been leading most of our pitch processes so welcome, Kylie.

Kylie:

Thanks for having me—I’d much rather be meeting in New York or London.

Darren:

Let’s organise that for next time. But I should say welcome the Riddler. Pitching; it’s not a major part of our business but it is quite an important part of the business, isn’t it?

Kylie:

Well it’s certainly something I don’t see going away from the industry anytime soon and it is a massive part of a client’s budget so something to take quite seriously.

Darren:

Procurement are running a lot of pitches these days, aren’t they?

Kylie:     

Obviously, a lot of pitches are run by procurement but the pitches that we are consulted and asked to participate in are often directly with the marketing department but they also see a lot of value in (if procurement do have to be involved) actually having us consult with the procurement department directly as well so we work with either.

Why do marketers pitch their agencies?

Darren:

What have you found from your perspective have been the major reasons for pitching because there seems to be a lot of pitches, a lot of media pitches at the moment? There seems to be some pitches to consolidate content and creative. What do you think’s driving that or what are the reasons people are going to market?

Kylie:

I think there are many different reasons. It does depend on the client but it also depends on the current environment so a case in point would be media. Yes, we have seen a lot of media pitches over the past 12 to 15 months for obvious reasons in the market place.

But not only that, with media and changing technology and content requirements etc, there has been a need in clients to sit up and look at their current relationships and current skill set in the incumbent agency they have. With creative agencies, it can be that procurement require a three-year contract for a renewal.

Darren:

Sometimes it feels like three months.

Kylie:

However, often it can be that there are issues with the incumbent agency. So, actually what we would recommend to the client before we do kick off on a pitch process is we would like to go in and evaluate what the issues are with the incumbent.

A lot of the time we can overcome those issues. However, it also helps to bring into the current pitch whatever the issues are with the incumbent to ensure that we don’t get that with the new partner.

Darren:

Because that would be the problem, wouldn’t it? You go through the process, which can take anywhere from eight weeks to twelve weeks or even a little bit longer sometimes and all you end up with is either the incumbent and the same problems you’ve always had or you choose a new agency and you still end up with the same problems.

Kylie:

That’s often because the client works in the same way too. We have had pitches where you end up with a new partner and then the client walks away and expects that new agency to act like the old agency and they wonder why they’re not getting what they used to get.

So, a lot of the work that we do, post-pitch, is also engagement activities, or transition activities if it is a new relationship from the incumbent. We can help there. But that’s often the bit where we get called back in and asked to sort out some issues with new relationships.

Darren:

I wonder, sometimes, if marketers get a chance to really consider the implications of running a pitch, I mean beyond the actual process itself. If you’ve got a good relationship with an agency but you’re running a pitch because you have to, the danger is you could end up with another agency that looks good but may not actually move you further or improve the situation.

Kylie:

I guess that we can overcome a lot of those issues because of the process that we do go through. A lot of clients (and agencies) if they are not familiar with our process, when they go through the process they realise that we are actually ticking a lot of boxes that they wouldn’t have necessarily have thought of.

For example, one of the first kick-off meetings that we have with the agency and the client is the chemistry session. We always get people up front that don’t believe in chemistry and who say, ‘Oh God, I don’t care if I like them or not’ and then when they come out of the process they realise the value in having met all the day to day people that they’ll be working with.

You spend so much of your working life with these people you want to ensure that you actually do believe in what they’re saying and that you do actually value the experience they have. So, by the end of the process they would have been through they would have ironed out a lot of the issues and had a lot of value in what they’re going to get moving forward.

How does the TrinityP3 process differ from other pitch processes?

Darren:

I caught up with a CMO recently who had just gone through the pitch process (not with us but with one of the other industry consultants) and the CMO said to me, ‘well you guys were so expensive that this other consultant was a third of your price’. And I said, ‘well what did they actually do?’

Let’s go through the process because you’ve mentioned it a couple of times. I’ll give you the feedback that I’ve had from people about what happens in the industry.

Kylie:

Other than the process the one thing that we do have at Trinity P3 which is a massive help and obviously gives us a fair market opinion on what’s out there in the marketplace to the client is we’ve got the agency register. I don’t think anybody else in Australia offers this.

Plus our register is a global resource because we have offices in other countries and actually in the last 12 months I’ve worked on a few global pitches where we’ve actually been briefed by the client to have a local agency rep in either Sydney or Melbourne but also needed work carried out in South America or Indonesia.

We actually do have agencies all round the world which is a massive help. So, what we do is when we meet with the client we get them to start as you would an agency client project or campaign, we get them to start with the brief.

We get them to fill out what are the requirements, what are the attributes, what are the important things to them as the client that they want to have in that agency. So, we can take that brief and match that against our agency register.

One of the biggest wives’ tales in the industry and obviously being ex-agency I do get ex-agency mates come and go ‘oh we know it’s all opinion based anyway, it’s just who you know.’

Preparing the market review and consideration list

Darren:

Well, that’s what this CMO said to me; the first meeting they had with this consultant, the consultant walked in, they had a conversation around what was needed, and then the consultant just started naming agencies off the top of their head, which I can imagine based on the human memory, they probably only have a dozen they can draw upon that they would remember with any sort of detail.

Kylie:

I do not know how any person in this industry would be able to keep up with the latest changes and the restructure of any agency today unless you’re actively out there all the time. I haven’t worked in agencies now for the last three years, working now at Trinity P3 and I can’t believe the amount of changes or personnel changes that happen in agencies all the time.

As part of having that agency register, TrinityP3 consultants on a regular basis are actually going out and meeting with the agencies. So, we are actually cross-checking the information the agencies are putting on the register and physically going out and getting a good idea for the sense of the culture, the sense of the personnel at the agency.

What it does for me is that it is when I go and sit in front of a client to put forward the choices of agencies they have I can actually do that with confidence because I am out there physically meeting with agencies all the time.

Darren:

It’s not just the information the agencies have provided, you have actually sat down and spoken with them and seen how they operate. It’s interesting because there’s another consultant that agencies have often told me, ‘oh, we’ve never seen them. They’ll suddenly put us on a list but we’ve never actually sat down and talked to them’.

I remember asking the consultant why that was and they go, ‘oh I haven’t got time to waste talking to agencies, which I thought was an interesting perspective considering that that’s a significant part of the value that they bring.

Kylie:

Look, it is a huge investment for you running the company to actually have us actively going out there but to be honest I wouldn’t feel confident going and presenting these cases to a client unless I actually knew what I was talking about.

And, as I said, they change so often that it really is hard to keep up with current agencies and who’s there and who’s gone to the next agency so it really does help us feel confident that we are giving the client the best information which they are paying for and that’s why they’re paying for it.

Darren:

So there’s the brief from the client and using the agency register to put a list together and make your recommendation for consideration. What’s the next stage?

Reviewing the long list of agencies

Kylie:

We present what we call the long list, the agency search. I always tell agencies that there is no guarantee that you’ll actually get put onto the pitch list but we’re giving the client the best opportunity to make sure that we’ve explored the marketplace the best we can.

So, what we do in our initial meeting with the client is we’ll actually get them to do what we call the short list and we get them to choose from the information we have given them; a shortlist of about six agencies that they’d actually like to participate in the pitch.

Darren:

Now, before that, on the long list, what if the client has come up with agencies that they’ve heard of or they’d like considered, do they automatically go onto the long list? How do you deal with it when a client has asked you to put some agencies into the consideration?

Kylie:

We would definitely explore those options for them because as I said it is not opinion based. We definitely want to make sure that we have given them every option available.

However, what we will do is take the agency’s information, we will meet with them, we will discuss the actual client brief with them and whether they actually match that brief or not will get us to the next stage of the pitch.

And that’s where the client can actually see if it is going to be the right agency for them.

Darren:

The reason I ask is quite a few years ago when I was running pitches I had a financial services company, they were looking for an agricultural specialist agency and when I was taking them through the long list approach they said, ‘oh. It’s alright we’ve already got a long list’.

What they’d done is gone round all the staff to see who had worked with an agricultural specialist agency.

The interesting thing is that when we got the list we checked it against the agency register and they all had conflicts because everyone had come to the bank from previous financial services roles where they worked with the agricultural services specialists at that company. So, they had a very nice list; it was about eight or ten companies but they all had conflicts.

Kylie:

Due diligence is what we actually do on behalf of the client. So, we will go and check all of that information and it’s a good point to raise because something that comes up when we’re doing the search report is any conflicts, any clashes. So, we will look at that and that’s really hard to keep up to date with.

Agencies are changing client lists all the time. So, unless you’re actively looking at that information at the time of the brief you could be presenting misinformation and get half way down the pitch and the agency has to pull out and go, ‘by the way’.

Darren:

‘We hadn’t told you about such and such’. But the other thing is increasingly agencies are going to be on projects. And they’ll say on their website that they’ve got a certain client but when you actually talk to the agency, ‘oh, yeah, we did a project’ but it’s under a current client. ‘Well if there was another client we’d be happy to work with them’.

Kylie:

It’s interesting if I went off agency websites and took that as gospel for a client pitch half of them wouldn’t make it onto the pitch list because, as you said, a lot of them will have logos up there for a lot of clients that they did a project for 24 months ago. So, straightway if I was a client I would say, ‘well they’re not able to pitch’.

So, with the agency register we keep the information up to date as possible but then we actually actively work on a pitch we will go and double check and cross check that information.

Darren:

So, we’ve got down from the long list to the pitch list, what happens then?

Choosing the agencies to make the short list

Kylie:

After we have presented to the client we get them to select a shortlist. First off, we’ll make sure the client wants to include the incumbent, or not include the incumbent agency to pitch. And we’ll get them to select six of the most appropriate agencies that they like the look of from the information that we have provided.

At the same time, I should mention we get the agency to be involved in this process as well so that we are not just taking this information and researching it ourselves. We actually do contact the agency because the worst thing to happen could be that we present them and the client likes them and then they’re not pitch fit—they don’t have the resources at the time to pitch.

So, we will actually give the agency as much information as we can, be very transparent with them on what the requirements are.

Darren:

Without actually revealing who the client is, maybe the category?

Kylie:

Yeah, we’ll give them the category, we’ll give them an overview of what the client is looking for, a general idea of the scope of work, and even a general budget, at which a lot of people will gasp.

But there’s no use presenting a half a million-dollar client to an agency that has overheads that are never going to cut it to that much. So, we’ve got a pretty honest relationship and we ask agencies so they’re quite honest with us upfront.

Darren:

I remember running a very big pitch that would require any agency to have more than 40 staff to be able to work on the client because that’s the sort of size of the business it was, 40 FTEs.

I got this phone call from an agency in, let’s say, rural NSW, and they said, ‘oh, we want to pitch because we do some projects for that client’ and I asked them how many staff they had and they said, ‘four’ and I said, ‘well, if you win it you need to increase your size by tenfold’, ‘oh, we can do that’ they said.

I love the optimism of agencies, you know they’ll take on anything because they think enough money and they can solve any problem that’ll arise.

Kylie:

It’s not all dollars and cents either. In the past, I have had agency CEOs or MDs say that the client doesn’t fit the culture of their agency and that’s fair as well. What we try to have is an honest relationship up front so we actually know exactly what we’re dealing with and that’s for both parties, the client and the agency so that we don’t get disappointed half way through the process.

Darren:

Now, once you’ve got this list that the client’s got because (talking to this CMO) he said, ‘then the consultant just phoned the agencies that he’d nominated, the six, and got them to send in their standard credentials so we could have a look’.

So, credentials would be the next stage so how do you do it?

Briefing agencies for their credentials

Kylie:

It is. We call it the RFI or credentials brief whichever you prefer but we’re already in the background working closely with the lead client on the pitch and what we’re also doing is helping them craft the credentials brief.

So, we’re coming up with information that is going to be relevant to them, not a standard credentials brief. It also lets the client read a document within a certain amount of time without being given a 50-page document of case studies, which a lot of agencies like to do.

We come up with a very direct list of questions, 10 or 12 questions that are going to be relevant and of interest to the client to read so it’s not just generic information. So, we come up with the RFI and we give that to the list of six agencies and we generally give them between a week and tops two weeks to turn around that credential brief.

Every step of the process we actually get the clients to use a score sheet and that’s a score sheet that Trinity P3 have developed. If you’ve got six or ten levels of stakeholders involved in the process obviously not every person is always going to agree on an outcome so the scoring really helps them conclude or come up with a decision which is an average score against each agency.

Darren:

Or at least structure the conversation around how to make a decision collectively.

Kylie:

Yeah, it gives us a base.

Darren:

It’s interesting, I was just thinking about years ago, it was a government agency, they said, ‘oh we don’t need to go through that selection process we’ll just put an open tender out there’. So, they put an open tender; anyone could apply for it and when the tender closed they ended up with 12 or 14 of those big rubbish bins full of tender documents, like over 200 agencies had applied and some of the tender documents were like 100’s and 100’s of pages.

A bit like the old idea (and I don’t know if this was at the agencies you worked at) ‘never mind the quality feel the weight of the documents’. And then they phoned me up and said could you help us go through these and filter out who is suitable and who isn’t.

Kylie:

You have to be realistic; the client only has so much time to wade through all of these documents. It’s funny (and I’ll be honest) the one pitch I worked on where I actually forgot one minor detail, which was the brief to the agency where I always put, ‘please limit your document to 15 pages’.

One time I forgot to put that and sure enough I had an agency put through a 50-page document. It wouldn’t even email through properly. So, there is reason behind what we’re doing and what we’re trying to do is make sure that the client has 1. relevant information and 2. all the top line information because what that’s going to be doing is arming them with the questions that they still need to ask of the agencies when they meet them in the next step.

Darren:

So, when the marketers have read the credential documents what happens next?

Kylie:

So we give the client at least a week to go through the credentials brief.

Darren:

A whole week?

Meeting the agencies to evaluate the chemistry

Kylie:

A whole week. What we want them to do is actually to read through the document and then write down any questions that they have, questions they still think have not been answered throughout that credentials brief. What we then ask them to do at the chemistry meetings where we have the six agencies come in, is each agency gets their opportunity to present some information of relevance.

They get to introduce the team that they see would be working on the account or sometimes the C-Suite depending on what the client requirements are. We spend half of that meeting time as an open Q & A forum so it’s really the opportunity for the client to ask that agency team any questions that they still have after reading the credentials documents.

Darren:

And the tough questions too?

Kylie:

And the tough questions so it really is testing out the personnel of the agency and getting a feel and it is what it is. It is chemistry. Some people think that that’s not an important part of a relationship, which is probably why they have a failed marriage.

Darren:

It’s interesting you say that, Kylie, because I had a senior marketer in London tell me chemistry sessions are a waste of time and rather than immediately jump to the defence I said, ‘well, what’s a chemistry session for you?’

And apparently, this is quite common, ‘oh the agency comes in, the senior management from the agency comes in and we sit down and have a chat for an hour or so just to feel each other out and see what we like’ and I said, ‘well, to me that’s not a chemistry session’.

Because, as you say, it’s really an opportunity to interrogate in a way the team that’s going to be working on your business and really get a sense of things like, how do they perform as a team, how do they think on their feet, the things that they’ve put in writing in the credentials document—do they really know it inside out or is this a piece of fiction?

Kylie:

It is a little bit like speed dating I guess if you think about it. You know it’s that awkward conversation at the beginning. All the feedback I get from clients is how important it was for them, to actually meet and see that team work as a team because it is pretty quick and easy to weed out the bullshit.

Darren:

Absolutely. I’ve seen chemistry sessions go horribly badly. In fact, one for a client that’s’ very friendly and collaborative where one agency started an argument between senior management and as they walked out the room the CEO of the company said, ‘well I don’t think we’ll be working with them’.

Kylie:

You know you can pick up on somebody’s enthusiasm as well. If you’ve got a team of five coming in and presenting for the chemistry meeting and you’ve got the person on the end with the mobile phone on their lap under the desk through half the meeting, I think the enthusiasm perhaps wasn’t as genuine as you would have hoped. It’s all these little things that actually help the client.

Darren:

Tell-tale signs.

Kylie:

It’s funny; some examples of pitches I’ve had where the clients have graded the credentials document or scored the presentations one way and it can be totally flipped around in the chemistry session.

One agency could have put forward this amazing credentials document and then when the client actually meets the agency it was from work that perhaps was ten years ago and none of the team that are in the room today actually had anything to do with it.

Darren:

Embarrassing, awkward.

Kylie:

The chemistry session as well as the client actually getting a feeling for the team that they would work with day in day out it’s also an opportunity for the agency to actually ask some questions to the client as well, which again gives them a good understanding of their thinking.

Darren:

So, after the chemistry sessions what happens next?

Short-listing the final three agencies for the RFP

Kylie:

What Trinity P3 do is at the end of the chemistry sessions is we’ll take all of the stakeholders team’s commentaries and scores and put a report together for them and we’ll go and meet with the client group again to really go over their thinking and what their decision is deciding on the three final agencies.

Darren:

Three? We’re down to three.

Kylie:

We’re down to three. So, with the three agencies that would be invited to pitch that’s when we get to the fun part of the pitch. That’s where we would actually have the client working on the strategic brief or the media brief, it depends on what we’re dealing with here.

At the same time we have our finance experts at Trinity P3 working with either procurement or the client to work on their scope of work and work on the rate part of the information.

Darren:

The RFP or request for proposal or request for tender.

Kylie:

Whatever you like to call it.

Darren:

So, that’s quite different. Again going back to this conversation with the CMO; after they had their chemistry sessions—there were six or seven agencies, they just gave them a creative brief and sent them off to do creative work so that’s six agencies working on a creative brief whereas this is three agencies going into a strategic or media.

Kylie:

Yeah, so it could be media or it could be creative. We’ve been working on different technologies briefs of late for pitches, … PR so, obviously, all of those disciplines require slightly different approaches to the pitch but if we’re talking about for example a creative agency pitch it would be the strategic brief. So, in the background we help the client craft that brief as well.

Obviously, a lot of clients know how to write a brief. However, we can give them a little bit of advice and review that brief with them just to ensure that it is going to get the best results for a pitch environment. We often say to the client that it’s not going to be the silver bullet.

Darren:

Well, I think the big difference is depending on how you write the brief, you’re in trouble if you make it too tight or too leading. You end up will all the agencies coming to the very same point.

Kylie:

Exactly.

Darren:

But if you make it too broad you may never get to the point of having something that will be able to differentiate one agency from the other because it takes way too much time to get there.

Test driving each agency using strategic workshops

Kylie:

Exactly. What we do differently as well for a creative agency pitch is we don’t just have a presentation back from the agency. One thing that we do is that we actually have the meetings or the presentations at the agency premises.

This is because we believe in the client being exposed as much as possible to the culture of the agency and the personnel of the agency – it is going to be really important for their final decision making.

But we actually call the presentations ‘workshops’. So, we actually have a half day workshop with each of the three agencies where we take the stakeholder team to the agency and we give them the opportunity within that half day or the four hours to work with the agency and the agency vice versa work with the client team so they’ll actually run through their strategic process with the client.

So, what we’re trying to get out of that is not only ‘what’s the solution to the brief’ but we’re also trying to get to ‘how do you feel you collaborate with this agency? How do you like their thinking?’ Often results aren’t always what you require however, the journey along, how you get there…I hate to use that word but…

Darren:

The journey.

Kylie:

The thinking.

Darren:

One of the things that I found after introducing the half day or full day workshops in some cases was at the end of it marketers felt they had got as close to test driving the agency as they possibly could.

Kylie:

Test driving—yeah.

Darren:

It gave them the sense of seeing how they worked with the agency and how the agency worked within itself, because I always think on the speculative creative an agency comes back, they may have worked on it for four weeks, six weeks, you haven’t been exposed to that as a marketer.

They present a strategy; was the strategy backfilled from the creative or did it actually lead to the creative insight? Who actually worked on it and how did they get there? Because in many ways you’re buying a relationship that solves problems and comes up with solutions more than you’re buying a factory that just produces creative outputs.

Kylie:

Again having this process and having a timeline of roughly eight weeks being exposed to as many of the staff at the agency as possible, if it was a normal pitch situation you can have an agency throw a bunch of freelancers on the pitch.

So, you might buy that idea and then those people who came up with the idea you’re never going to have in the room again. So, this process lets you work with the actual people that you’ll be dealing with day to day throughout.

Darren:

I know it happens because when I worked in creative departments if the creative department was busy the first thing the agency would do is phone a hot freelance team to do their pitch idea.

Kylie:

Yeah, and part of the RFP that we’re giving the agency to respond to during the pitch process; we’ll actually have them fill out their rate card and their resource levels as well. So, it’s going to come out in the end of the process; who are the staff that they’re putting onto the account and how many hours is the client going to get of each of their staff members?

So, it’s not a matter of just throwing freelancers onto the pitch, the client is really getting a realistic view of what’s going to be bought at the end of the process so to speak.

Benchmarking and negotiating the agency fee

Darren:

That’s interesting as well because the CMO I spoke with, I said, ‘well what did the consultant that you used do?’ And they said, ‘oh, we appointed an agency and then we worked out the finances and he just looked at the proposal and said, ‘oh, that feels pretty good’’.

Kylie:

It’s funny. When I first started working on these pitches and the RFP I always thought, ‘oh, the agency’s going to hate us’—getting all of this information out of them and having to share all of this really highly confidential information with us.

But now I’ve learnt that the way we approach it the agencies really appreciate it because what it does is there’s no cloak and dagger hidden stuff. It’s all out there; it’s all transparent for both parties.

We’re not there trying to screw down the agency. What we’re doing is we’re adding value by benchmarking the costs. So, we’re actually giving them an industry perspective. We’re not adding an opinion and just saying, ‘that’s too cheap’ etc. We‘re actually giving opinion to the client based on what’s going on in the industry.

And often I get agencies at the end of the process saying, ‘thank God you’ve done all of that for us up front because now that we’ve been appointed the agency we can now get down to the real work and not have to worry about all those awkward conversations about money.’

Darren:

Yeah, and I think agencies even in the world of procurement feel genuinely uncomfortable with that conversation around money.

Kylie:

As we all do.

Darren:

Because a lot of agencies, I know when I was working as creative director so many times when we were unsuccessful in pitches it would go around the agency, ‘oh, we missed out because someone did a deal on the fees’.

Kylie:

We’re too expensive.

Darren:

Or someone dropped their pants to get the client and it’s just such a destructive view of the value of the agency. It makes it seem like the whole thing is about how cheap you are.

Kylie:

That actually brings up something we don’t discuss with people very often; that part of our process that people don’t realise is we don’t actually present the financials to our clients until the very end of the pitch.

So, we actually have the clients choose their preferred agencies and present our reports, and we’ve been through the scoring through each stage of the process, so we’ve actually been through all of these areas and all of the decisions and have them choose the preferred agency before we even go and look at financials.

So, our pitches aren’t based on money or finance. There’s still negotiating to be done at the end, however, we get the client to see the value in what they’re buying and the relationship with the agency.

Darren:

Yeah, I remember a pitch where the client, against all advice, kept the incumbent in because, ‘we’re worried that if we drop them they’ll just walk away from the business’. So they dragged this poor incumbent all the way through the pitch process and they were the third choice. At the end of the process they had two other agencies, one they really liked, the other was very good and then the incumbent was a sad third.

Then we bought the RFP results in and put the financials up and the two preferred were very close to each other but the incumbent was half the price because they were basically offering all of their senior staff free for the first 12 months.

Now, it was really interesting because the client was so excited about how cheap this was and I kept having to point out, ‘this is your third choice’.

I think I used the metaphor, ‘you’ve test driven a BMW and a Mercedes Benz but when you saw the price you wanted to go back to the Holden Gemini’ (which ages me). It’s like you’re sticking with what you’ve known even though you’ve been incredibly dissatisfied with the performance of it.

Kylie:

I think clients are often surprised at our benchmarking report at the end at what can be negotiated with an agency. I mean they’re just putting their best first price offer up front. And it is a pitch process so it is something they have to do rather quickly; making decisions probably without knowing the full scope of the work and they’re just going by example of what they’ve done in the past for other clients.

So, that’s where we can add value and we can help those negotiations open up a lot more. Often with the most expensive agency it may be that they put the wrong resources on and that it can all be worked out and everybody’s happy.

What makes for a successful agency pitch outcome?

Darren:

So, Kylie, what for you personally is the satisfaction of being involved in managing a pitch?

Kylie:

For me, I get exposed to so many different businesses so I’m forever learning all the time, which I would have done in an agency but from a different point of view now. However, at the end of the pitch because we do go through such a stringent process and we do add value in so many different ways through the pitch process, the outcome, in my experience, nine out of ten times has been really successful.

We’ve had really happy clients and really happy agency matches because we have been through that process in ensuring that that relationship is going to come together and be a really positive one. So, that for me is a positive outcome in my job success.

Darren:

That’s important. Part of what we do has to be something that makes us feel good about what we do. You spend hours and hours working on a pitch. I was interested to know what it was, because for me personally if I never run another pitch…

Kylie:

I’m aware of that.

Darren:

I’d be very happy because for me it’s not as interesting as many of the other things. I know you work on other projects; you don’t just do pitching. But certainly if you’re going to do something you should do it as well as you possibly can.

Kylie:

But most of the pitches I’ve worked in the client has said that we have added value and I think that’s all you can ask for. When you’re working on something you want to add value and we do add value in so many ways. It’s not just giving advice to a client or an agency it is actually helping them learn something that they possibly don’t know.

Going back to my last example–helping to write a brief. You would be surprised how many clients don’t have the confidence to actually write a brief and share it with us so that’s something from our experience, having to work on these activities all the time we’re exposed to so much information that they really do value our opinion when we’re helping them draft a brief for example.

Darren:

So, I’m going to end with quite a controversial question and that is—what is the most controversial or the biggest challenge you have ever had in a pitch since you’ve been with us at TrinityP3?

Agency & Supplier Search &/or Selection

About Darren Woolley

Darren is considered a thought leader on all aspects of marketing management. A Problem Solver, Negotiator, Founder & Global CEO of TrinityP3 - Marketing Management Consultants, founding member of the Marketing FIRST Forum and Author. He is also a Past-Chair of the Australian Marketing Institute, Ex-Medical Scientist and Ex-Creative Director. And in his spare time he sleeps. Darren's Bio Here Email: darren@trinityp3.com

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