This post is by Anita Zanesco, a Senior Consultant at TrinityP3. Anita brings a unique blend of insights, creativity and understanding to the communications industry particularly in the areas of talent management, agency process and new business pitch management.
Pitching can be a lengthy, expensive process but sometimes it’s a necessity and doing it right is critical to making sure you don’t have to do it again for a long time. With the benefit of time, comes greater opportunity to get to know agencies better; accommodate existing schedules; and create more stages within the process to gain insight into the different agency disciplines including strategy, creative and account management.
However, what can clients do when they don’t have the luxury of time?
Sometimes clients find themselves under pressure to appoint an agency for the first time or indeed move agencies and they need to do it with a deadline fast approaching. In these cases, TrinityP3 uses the client brief to identify key priorities then tailors a bespoke pitch process that won’t compromise the outcome yet get the client there in the quickest timeframe possible.
Case Study 1
Financial Services – Full Search & Selection Process for a Lead Creative Agency – 10 weeks work completed in five weeks.
Challenging Problem: This marketer had been contemplating moving agencies for some time due to a new product launch that required a different skillset, which the incumbent had demonstrated they would struggle to deliver. But moving into a new space with a new product and target consumer, the client wasn’t sure how to go about finding the right agency. TrinityP3 was subsequently engaged.
Creative Solution: The process still allowed for quality time to be spent on the initial search to make sure all suitable agencies were vetted and considered then a very nimble process was outlined to allow the client maximum exposure to the agencies whilst moving at speed.
Credentials and Chemistry meetings were merged and half-day workshops were used not only for the agencies to showcase strategic and creative capabilities but to further assess chemistry and cultural fit. Financial Benchmarking and Remuneration Analysis was run concurrently with the workshop stage.
Process: From the Client Market Search Brief, TrinityP3 undertook an intense search to deliver a report and agree a shortlist of 4 agencies to meet with the client for 90 minute Credentials and Chemistry Meetings. The client then further shortlisted 3 of these agencies to receive a Communications Brief and hold Q&A sessions with the client over the phone.
The agencies then prepared for a 4 hour workshop to share agency process, strategic thinking, creative ideation and customer journey mapping. Financials were run concurrently and presented after the final workshop once the client had a clear indication of likely preferred agency.
TrinityP3 always focuses on capabilities, culture and chemistry before financials so generally prefers clients to have a clear decision on a likely winner so a guide can be given how to ensure financials do not become a deal breaker.
Results and Feedback: A very close race with two agencies more than capable of delivering a long term partnership for the client. The client was thrilled with the pace of the job and appointed an agency in time to deliver the creative required for launch.
Observations: TrinityP3 observed a pitch run at this pace does require a very cohesive aligned client marketing team and a clear leader. This client had both and as such, it was possible to run the pitch at speed and get decisions made quickly.
Case Study 2
Higher Education – Full Search & Selection Process for a Lead Creative ‘Digital First’ Agency PLUS a media agency – 12 weeks work completed in eight weeks.
Challenging Problem: A complex brief given the client needed both a creative and media partner and was open to agencies partnering up (as long as there was a very clear lead agency) or to a one-stop-shop who could deliver all strategic, creative and media requirements. With the luxury of time this process would normally take 10-12 weeks, however, the client only had 8 weeks.
Creative Solution: Use two TrinityP3 consultants to divide and conquer with one leading the strategic brand and creative search and one leading the media. Maintain these liaison points until the workshop stage where one consultant would take over and lead the remainder of the process. It would allow speed, rigour and no compromise on the end result.
Process: Full market search of all agency combinations – networked creative and media agencies, independent creative agencies partnered with independent media agencies and one-stop-shops.
Shortlist 6 agencies for Credentials, Chemistry & Operations meetings with client then shortlist 3 agencies to receive a Communications Brief. Allow for Q&A teleconference sessions then 6 hour workshops (as opposed to the normal 4 hours) to allow agencies to truly showcase strategic, creative, media and customer journey planning capabilities.
These were a true test of chemistry and how an agency might work with the client team on an ongoing basis. The Financial RFP, benchmarking and analysis was managed with the 3 shortlisted agencies who received the client brief and presented after the final workshop.
Results and Feedback: The Client found it one of the hardest pitches to call with two agency teams completely neck and neck across most critical factors. The client was thrilled with how robust the process was and the way it was managed.
Observations: With a client team of 6, it was critical that all stakeholders were aligned in terms of priorities. Their communication was faultless and it enabled the process to run smoothly and to plan.
Case Study 3
E-commerce – Full Search & Selection for a Lead Creative Agency – 10 weeks completed in six weeks.
Challenging Problem: The client needed to be in market prior to the critical Christmas retail period and was running out of time. They had persevered with their incumbent hoping they would deliver a breakthrough creative idea but they had struggled. The client wanted a new agency on board yesterday!
Creative Solution: With a brand strategy and brief already written, TrinityP3 designed a customised pitch process very heavily focused on capabilities and chemistry initially, but then focused on creativity and the ability the agencies had to work with a given strategy and brief to develop powerful ideas capable of being executed across all channels to all markets.
Process: Full market search and report followed by face to face Credentials and Chemistry meetings with 6 agencies. Three of these agencies were then shortlisted to receive a very specific client brief to develop work for a Christmas Campaign. A one hour Q&A helped to clarify points on the client brief and was a chance for agencies to request any further information.
One week later a one hour tissue session was used to gain further clarity on potential creative territories, ideas and executions. The final meeting was a Creative Pitch to share ideas and executions that could deliver to the brief from a strategic, creative and timing perspective.
The Financial RFP and subsequent report was a result of submissions by the final shortlisted 3 agencies. The report and recommendations were presented after the final agency did their creative pitch.
Results and Feedback: The client was exceedingly happy with the results largely due to the fact the winning agency did “crack” the brief and present an idea the client would happily produce.
Observations: TrinityP3 would not normally recommend a pitch be so focused on creative work to drive decision making, as an agency appointment should always be based on potential for long term partnership which essentially is driven by chemistry, cultural fit and strategic and creative alignment.
So the challenge for the TrinityP3 consultant was to manage the process so the client got a genuine sense of chemistry and cultural fit in the initial stages so the shortlisted agencies were all on a level playing field before entering the creative stage.