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Managing Marketing: The good, the bad and the ugly of media agency pitches

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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.

Chloe Hooper is the National New Business and Marketing Director at media agency PHD. Here she shares with Darren her extensive agency perspective of best practice pitching, worst practice pitching and how pitching can be improved to deliver better outcomes for marketers and advertisers. Including the role of marketers, procurement and consultants in the process.

You can listen to the podcast here:

Follow Managing Marketing on Soundcloud or iTunes

Transcription:

Darren:

Welcome to Managing Marketing and today I’m chatting with Chloe Hooper, who’s national new business and national marketing director of PHD, welcome Chloe.

Chloe:

Hello, how are you?

Darren:

I’m very well, but the reason you are sitting here is because of that opinion piece that you wrote in Ad News about pitching. I don’t think you quite said you we’re bitching about pitching but you certainly had some very clear thoughts on pitching.

Chloe:

Yeah, I think I’ve been doing this for a few years now and I’ve experienced a lot of different pitches, some good, some bad and I just felt the need to put my opinion out there and say how I currently think the state of play is.

Darren:

Look I think that is really refreshing and I would encourage it because often as pitch consultants we hear agencies will give feedback but they don’t want to be quoted on it and things like that but pitching is a two-party process. You need to understand the impact it is having on agencies as well as the impact on marketers.

Chloe:

Yeah, I think there has been a massive call from all agencies actually, maybe not publicly and as you say putting your name to it, but I do think there is a massive fatigue within the whole agency realm. To change the way that pitches are currently being run and so we might be the one who put their name to it but I do think it’s a global thing.

Darren:

And we do we have to have a disclaimer now that this is Chloe Hooper’s personal opinion?

Chloe:

Absolutely, I think we should definitely put that out there that it is one of those things that everyone has a different opinion on how things should be run and what works and what doesn’t.

I’ve had a few conversations leading up to this podcast with different people and that’s apparent even there within PHD. Everyone’s got their, ‘this is how I’d like it to be done’ and that’s why there’s no universal answer at the moment. I do think it is something that needs investigating on what is best practice.

Darren:

You know from our perspective the best new business win is one the agency doesn’t have to pitch for, would you agree with that?

Chloe:

I certainly do agree with that. I think that pitching takes up a lot of resource. It’s like an extreme sport. You’ve got to be in it to win it. Winning new business without a pitch is an ideal scenario but maybe not the fairest way of doing things. I think that’s it really important to ensure if you are pitching for something, you are prospecting for something you actually do want to go after.

And that’s how you sometimes can win without the pitch process and also if you are the incumbent. If you are the incumbent agency it is always nice to have the opportunity to not go to pitch and maybe just resolve issues internally.

Darren:

I think that’s probably a fair observation because we find incumbents are always in a very difficult position in that they’re trying to address any perceived problem. And at the same time trying to compete against the shiny new, that’s being offered by the new agencies that have none of the heritage or baggage that’s come from working with that client.

Chloe:

You probably know this from your experience but if you’re the incumbent you’ve got an opportunity to show off all your shiny new toys but also you are in a position, where it’s kind of like, well why wasn’t this being done before, so it’s kind of creating that balance.

Darren:

It’s a double edged sword isn’t it?

Chloe:

Yeah.

Darren:

It’s so difficult. That’s one of the reasons we try and level the playing field because it is hard for the incumbent. Also, where a client draws an incumbent into a pitch when they have no intention of appointing them again. It’s just such a waste don’t you think?

Chloe:

I do agree, but speaking from previous experience, during my career, we have been in positions like that where we are not the ones to get this and you can turn it around like refreshed teams and refreshed ways of working.

I think as the incumbent you do want the opportunity to have the chance to have another go. So, if there is a situation where you have no chance you obviously don’t want to be involved, but as the incumbent you do want the opportunity to prove yourself the same way the rest of the market is.

Darren:

Now I’m not sure if this is fair, but let’s start with the positives. What makes a good pitch from your perspective? You’re talking from quite a few years of experience both in Australia and the UK. And also, I would imagine a large number of pitches.

Chloe:

Yeah, I’ve certainly done my fair share of pitches. I think speaking from my UK experience and Australia, which as I said earlier, it’s got quite a different approach to pitching, depending what country you are in just from the cultural point of view. I think what works well in Australia pitches is everyone’s got the mentally how can we do our best without sweating the small stuff.

I think a really strong pitch is actually when the client knows exactly what they are looking for. I think sometimes we go into new business process and the client’s unsure of what they are really looking for and they’re kind of going to market thinking oh hopefully we’ll see what we like when we get there.

I think the best pitches and the best run pitches are when the client is really sure, they can articulate that really well and the agency’s got them available to ask the questions and work as a partner with them throughout the process. So, I think the best run pitches are definitely when everyone’s aligned in what success looks like from the outset. I think having a pitch consultant involved in that is crucial, so yeah, that would be a best case scenario.

Darren:

Often we’ve had situations and we know of times when marketers are really going to pitch because they’re not sure what they want. They just want to know what else is out there. It’s almost like the old thing with the remote on TV, yes this programme’s good but what else is on TV. It really can be a huge waste of everyone’s time can’t it?

Chloe:

Yes, certainly it can be but I think if the market is invested in what they’re doing then it’s worthwhile. If they’re just doing it because there are internal pressures and they’ve not got any intention of moving then it’s not worth it and they’re just out there looking for new ideas and to give their current agency a kick up the bum to say come on you could be up for a pitch here.

Darren:

Which is weird isn’t it because we read and hear so much about it’s all the relationship but this is a relationship where if you don’t lift your game I’m going to dump you and get someone else. Imagine running your personal relationships like that.

Chloe:

I’m just thinking of my personal relationships, if I’m currently doing that.

Darren:

Oh, you’re tough.

Chloe:

I know, my poor partner. I’m trying to think of the best way of framing this because I want to be as polite as possible. I think it is important to invest the time into going into pitching and if you’re not committed to pursuing that further and to creating new relationships with potentially new people.

It might be you love the agency, their way of thinking but the team you’ve currently got working on that piece of business isn’t right for you and you do need to give them a kick up the bum to reshape that. It puts a lot of pressure on resource limitations on the agency.

Darren:

In some ways media can be even more onerous as a pitch because there is so much detail potentially in that process; media strategy, media buying (digital, programmatic, search) so many different elements that can be explored just in media. And as we know media agencies are doing more than just media. So, what is the commitment to an agency when you get called in to do a pitch?

Chloe:

I think you’re 100% right in what you’re saying; it’s becoming more and more fragmented and what agencies can offer is becoming more and more diverse. But I think the commitment needs to be from the agency to have a small core team that can help bring all of that talent and skill set together.

That’s the most important commitment we can make: to make sure we’re delivering something to the client that is out-rightly one answer with a small team instead of getting the world and their dog involved. In terms of delivering that to the client we need to make it as simple as possible for them.

Darren:

It is time consuming for the agency isn’t it?

Chloe:

Yeah, there is a lot of resource and energy that goes into it. It goes back to making sure you’re pitching for stuff that you really desperately want to win. Is the brand the right culture fit for you? And do you really want to work with them? Are you going to produce that best award-winning work for them?

If you’re not 100% committed to pitching to win then you won’t necessarily get the best results and people will get tired. And if you’re going from pitch to pitch to pitch, people get exhausted and they won’t want to carry on pitching.

Pitching should be a privilege. It should be something that people in the agency are desperate to work on and really enjoy doing.

Darren:

Not a grind of oh here comes another RFP. I’ve already sacrificed three weekends this month.

Chloe:

Exactly.

Darren:

On that basis how do you evaluate the opportunity? You must do a huge amount of research and background checking on different clients or you have prospects like a wish list. I’m not asking you to give away any of your new business trade secrets but what are agencies doing and looking for in clients?

Chloe:

I think it’s all around the cultural fit. If you’re good at business development not new business you should really have your prospects and be going after them, understanding their business and how they work before even going to pitch.

I think prospecting is really key here and then if you do have a gem of a client that comes up, which wasn’t on your initial list it’s evaluating that against have they got the same culture and brand values as you? Do you love the work they’re currently doing?

We’ve actually got a score card at PHD of what we will and will not turn down and we’ve turned down to pitch a helluva lot of new business in the last couple of years. Having that key criteria of this is what we’re looking for and this is who we want to work with helps you become so much better at pitching.

The client doesn’t want to work with you if you’re not the right brand fit for them either. As you said it’s a partnership.

Darren:

It’s always interesting as a pitch consultant when you phone an agency and before you even ask the question they go ‘we’ll do it’. Hang on, I haven’t told you who the client is or what category or what’s involved or any of those things. We think it’s important for the agency to ask all those questions.

It’s important for an agency to make a business decision so the only way to make that business decision is to ask the question so you can evaluate whether this is an opportunity that’s worthwhile.

Chloe:

And I think that comes down to confidence, don’t you? It’s having the confidence to hold out for the brands you do want to work with and to say ‘no’ and being strong by that because you’ve got much more chance of winning the ones you do want to win.

Darren:

A lot of agencies that suffer from a cultural malaise, it’s often because they’ve pitched for a lot of work and they’ve got a low conversion rate. And you find out that the reason they have a low conversion rate is because they’ve pitched for everything that moves.

What you’re saying is absolutely right: if you become more selective and pitch for the things you want and think are a good fit then you’re more likely to win. Your conversion rate is much higher and the agency is buoyed by the wins and not feeling drained by the losses.

Chloe:

Yeah, exactly.

Darren:

In your new business development role you’re part of protecting or nurturing the culture of the agency as well.

Chloe:

It’s keeping hold of your talent as well. People always put their best talent on pitches and if you burn those people out you’re going to lose them, so it’s a morale thing to make sure you’re pitching for the things you want to win and you’re all in it together.

Darren:

I’m laughing because the one thing clients say all the time is we don’t just want their A Team we want the team that’s going to be working on our business.

Chloe:

We face the challenge of sometimes you put your most senior people in the room and it will turn around and the client will say ‘you didn’t win this because we wanted to see the people working in the room’.

And another time you’ll lose a pitch based on the fact you put the people working in the room and they’ll say, ‘everyone else sent their most senior people but you couldn’t be bothered to show up.’ It’s a balance between knowing what the client really wants. I think working with consultancies does help you understand that.

Darren:

That’s a difficult conversation to have. You know, who do you want us to bring in, our senior people or the people that are working on the business? We point out to clients that there’s a flaw in that, which is believing the agency seems to have an endless supply of resources that will suddenly appear to be able to work on their business should the agency be successful.

I mean if it’s a large piece of business you could be adding ten, fifteen, twenty staff. You don’t have those people just sitting around waiting for the next client to walk through the door do you?

Chloe:

That would be nice wouldn’t it?

I think that Volkswagen’s a really good example. When we won Volkswagen, the transitional period, we actually put a halt on pitching for quite a while to make sure we could truly embed that and had the resources available.

I think not going for new business and different things, you can make that talent available and ready in time for the client. When it’s going to the room you’ve got to be careful with who you’re putting in there.

It’s a big thing and making sure the people you are putting in have a good fit with other people in the room . You have to make sure you’ve got that balance, there’s also that issue of diversity. Casting is a really big thing for new business I think and can make or break because people buy people at the end of the day.

Darren:

Yeah, you are looking at creating a chemistry, a fit and you are often doing it blinded because you can’t really get to understand the client unless you meet with them. Or even the mix of the client, you can certainly ask questions and do a bit of research but it must be incredibly difficult, it’s a bit hit and miss isn’t it because it’s not a numbers game?

Having said that some agencies play the numbers game; ‘how many clients will be coming’, ‘oh we’ll be five’ , ‘right, we’ll have six people there, one for each client plus one extra.’

Chloe:

Well thank god for LinkedIn because at least you can have a little bit of an overview of who’s going to be coming into the room.

Darren:

And where they have worked or whether they have changed jobs every six months and then check to see if every time they’ve changed jobs there’s a change of agency and things like that.

Chloe:

It’s things like knowing how advanced their media knowledge is. Seeing where people have worked previously you can understand how simplified do we need to make this or do we really need to go into granular detail. I think being able to stalk the people coming into the room is always helpful.

Darren:

Now, I don’t want to get into finger-pointing and naming and shaming here but what are the some of the worst practices that often happen in pitches? What are the things that really leave a bad taste in an agency’s mouth or lead to what I call bitching about pitching?

Chloe:

I think transparency is a key one. I feel like sometimes clients will hold back a secret piece of knowledge when really if it’s going to be a partnership we need to know everything we can to make sure we deliver the best answers on the day.

Talking about the day—the other thing is pitches aren’t won in the room and anyone who has that mentality will never win a new business pitch. It’s from the beginning right through to the end of when that decision is made. Worst practice is when people give up post the pitch. It is all the way until the end—that’s another key one.

Darren:

Even if you’re unsuccessful the really smart agencies stay in touch with those clients.

Chloe:

I couldn’t agree with you more. They should always become a prospect. Going back to what you were saying about procurement it can sometimes mean the price is driven down to the point where the agency can’t deliver. And we’ve been in unfortunate scenarios before where we’ve pitched for a client who said, ‘we loved your ideas the best’ but someone else has won. And then post that they’ve said, ‘well the agency couldn’t deliver on what they promised.’

Darren:

And they couldn’t deliver because they weren’t getting paid to deliver because they actually gave the lowest price, which meant they couldn’t put the right people on the business.

Chloe:

Exactly. So, I do think it’s always important to make sure that once you have pitched for a new business you don’t know where that person is going to move on to. The decision maker might not have loved your ideas the most but their number two loved you and they’ve moved over somewhere else.

Darren:

Transparency is a really good point. All we hear about in the industry is agencies have to be more transparent about trading and about this. But transparency is a two-way street isn’t it?

Chloe:

Absolutely. I have no other answer for that than yes please, more transparency on both sides.

Darren:

We have this argument not with marketers but especially with procurement. And procurement people will tell us ‘no, I can’t tell you the process of the pitch or who else is involved or the value of the contract’. They can’t tell you all these things, why? Because it’s confidential.

So, you want me to go through the process of completing a tender. A lot of agencies don’t realise we tender as well. As consultants we tender for a lot of projects, especially the larger ones. And they completely shut off any transparency at all that would allow you to put together a better response to their tender because it’s confidential and it can’t be shared. It’s not a great way to start a relationship is it?

Chloe:

I just don’t think you’d get the best results from working like that. Procurement are really important and are becoming more important. I was at Cannes recently and the big thing everyone kept talking about was no matter what role you’re in understand procurement, how they work , how their decisions are made.

I think procurement are becoming more sophisticated in some of the ways they work. Case studies for example, they are looking at the ROI, how they evaluate different case studies within the pitch presentations you deliver. Procurement play a really important role but yes, it does cause a lot of barriers when you are trying to make connections and test ideas.

There’s no better pitch process than when the client is involved with you every step of the way and you’re working together to deliver the best results. There are scenarios where that is blocked off but if you’ve got a good pitch consultant involved in that process they will often be that voice we need to get through to the client. It’s a three-way relationship.

Darren:

One of the other areas of transparency and again with procurement is they’ll go the other side and say ‘now we’re going to be completely transparent about your response agency. We’re going to have a Q&A and you can ask any question you like but by the way we’ll be sharing those questions and answers with all the other agencies.

Does that stop agencies asking a lot of the questions that they really need to ask? Because knowing all the other agencies you’re competing against—they’re not only going to see your questions and gain insights into your thinking and strategy but also the answers.

Chloe:

Absolutely, I was talking about this exact point to our worldwide new business lead while I was over in London. If you don’t want to give away your secrets and your questions paint a big picture and tell the story.

Darren:

But it’s not fair. They’re saying it’s a level playing field but it’s not. It’s creating a playing field where no one can win because it reduces everyone to the common denominator and what you’re actually trying to do is decide what are the differences between the agencies. If chemistry is the only thing, certainly chemistry is something we feel.

Chloe:

I completely agree. There is also the problem of the questions being shared but also we can’t get in touch with the client. So, if we ask for a tissue session or additional sources for a main planning process and can we come and demonstrate this for you? And procurement will say absolutely come on in but then that will open up every single other agency to go and have a session.

Darren:

Everyone else gets the same because that’s fair.

Chloe:

By asking you’re showing that this is how you work. And if the client wants to work with you in that way they should be privileged enough to have that opportunity. You don’t ask, you don’t get. I think that those who don’t ask shouldn’t benefit from others willing to go out there and show other ways of working.

Darren:

I think procurement in trying to bring a level of diligence and governance to the process are often not understanding the underlying drivers of selecting agencies. It’s not like you’re buying a commodity, or you’d hope you’re not buying a commodity. But in trying to bring everyone down to a common denominator you’re often eliminating opportunities for agencies to truly show the value they provide, which has to be in their strategic thinking.

Chloe:

Yes and I think as things move more towards programmatic it’s going to become harder and harder for procurement to audit these types of things so not putting everyone on a level playing field and letting the agencies demonstrate what they’re capable of and how they ideate and the different things they do is really important.

The best scenario for a pitch is where you’ve got procurement and marketing working really closely together and aligned on who are the decision makers? If it all comes down to money at the end of the day, be transparent with the agency, set up an online bidding platform and let that be the way forward.

Hopefully it never comes down to that. Hopefully creativity and innovation are important but if that’s the solution.

Darren:

And ultimately, at the end of the day everything is negotiable. This idea of putting your proposal in and then turning around and saying we can’t afford that, we’ll go for the cheaper one is flawed thinking isn’t it?

Imagine buying a phone—well I can’t afford that one but I can afford this one–it hasn’t got anywhere near the same functionality of the more expensive one but it’s the one I can afford and it’s a phone. So, I’ll just go with that.

Chloe:

A lot of the time people know what they’re looking for from the outset. So, if you know that you want a particular phone or you only want the cheapest one you need to be transparent about that in the beginning of the process or I want the top of the range with all the apps and gadgets you could possibly want on a phone.

Darren:

The Swiss army knife of phones with all the bits that fold out.

Chloe:

Exactly. You need to know which one you want from the outset. And that creates the fairest process possible for all parties involved.

Darren:

That goes back to your earlier point that good pitches are ones where everyone’s aligned on what success looks like, doesn’t it?

Chloe:

Absolutely, I think that’s crucial.

Darren:

But if you, as a marketer, went to market and said what we’re looking for is X, Y, and Z wouldn’t’ every agency say well we’re X, Y and Z?

Chloe:

Yes, absolutely.

Darren:

One of the difficulties is everyone is everything to everyone. Every agency will pretty much say they can do everything.

Chloe:

I was talking to another pitch consultancy in London and they were saying there are a lot of similarities between agencies and the most important thing is truly understanding what your no1 unique selling point is. And always being consistent with what that is.

If a client says this is what we’re looking for marketers are smart enough to read between the lines and say actually that’s not what you are; it’s not what you’re delivering on or your marketing comms and everything in the Trade press doesn’t lead you down the path of being specialists in that area.

It’s really important to know exactly who you are and have a clear vision of what that is.

Darren:

That would be having a clear differentiated or distinctive brand that’s known for X. And yet Holding companies have traditionally run agencies almost as conflict houses. Like if we can’t put that automotive into media agency A we’ve got media agency B or C, or as the joke went we’ve got media agency M or media agency M or media agency M to choose from.

It worked against the idea of agencies being very distinct brands.

Chloe:

How do you find that? Coming from someone who’s worked in OmniComm there is a big difference in each of the agencies; different cultures, values, processes, and ways of working that personally, from an internal perspective, I don’t see it like that. But maybe from an external you would.

Darren:

I think the biggest problem every agency has is how to articulate that to an audience that is largely disinterested until the moment they’re interested. You could do a lot of marketing, articulating the clear differences of PHD versus R&D versus Foundation but the audience doesn’t care until they’re in the market to buy.

And then when they’re in the market to buy they’ve got maybe 5 or 6 other media agencies all telling them how they’re different or distinctive. I think that’s one of the issues because at the very basis of it there’s an offering of services that pretty much defines you as being a media agency.

Then it comes down to the best fit and the best proof of capability and the best chemistry and the best price as to who is successful in the end.

Chloe:

That’s why I think there is a real call for changing the way we currently pitch. Pitching is a bit of a song and a dance. We’ve got 6 weeks to show you this is who we are, this is how we work.

Darren:

It’s the beauty parade. Call 6 agencies, get them to come in and swan around, and then we’ll pick the one we like.

Chloe:

Exactly and going back to what you said earlier there is a flaw in the way we currently pitch. We’ve being doing this the same way for the past 15 years and that’s where we need to change things because, as you say, it is a beauty parade and we just come out and flaunt what we’ve got and I don’t think that is a good way of evaluating who is the right fit for your brand.

Darren:

One of the things for about ten years that we’ve been promoting is strategic days where the client works strategically in a workshop with each agency—a day each one. Creatively that happens a lot. A lot of clients can see the sense of that.

But from a media perspective they really struggle with it because in media the buying part of it doesn’t lend itself to a workshop but the strategy part is almost overshadowed by the buying part because ultimately the money gets spent on buying and yet all the thinking that drives that buying strategy happens in a strategic planning process doesn’t it?

Have you had many pitches where you’ve been involved in a long full-on strategy because I know that would work brilliantly with PHD’s source process? It’s an online connection. It’s almost better than Marcel Publicis. How long has it been around, 7 or 8 years?

Chloe:

I wouldn’t know off the top of my head but it’s been around for a very long time and it’s continuously improving. When you were saying one-day planning sessions that was music to my ears because that would be PHD’s time to shine.

Darren:

We have real trouble getting marketers to do that with media. They’ll do it creatively, with digital but when it comes to media they think oh no that’s more like a presentation than a workshop. Maybe it’s because they feel they don’t have the insights to share to sustain a full day of media.

Chloe:

I guess that goes back to our original point about what are you looking for? If you just want someone to buy a jeep then a strategic planning day is not really something you’re going to get a lot of value from. PHD is a strategic-led planning agency.

Darren:

And globally. It’s the one thing that makes you a distinctive part of that OMG group. Mark Holden is the heart or head of PHD.

Chloe:

I absolutely love Mark and he is a big driving force behind what PHD stands for and we’re quite good at transforming that across the world so I think for us the planning days would be perfect. And I think many agencies would enjoy the opportunity to showcase this is how we think, this is how we do things, and how we work. If you’re only interested in buying then no, it’s not the right process for you.

Darren:

Clients will often go, ‘a whole day with each agency’ but one of the caveats we say is that you have to have the list down to three so it’s three days.

Chloe:

Absolutely.

Darren:

And they go ‘three days with each agency but won’t we just be covering the same territory? Every single time at the end of those three days, one, the marketers have found it incredibly exciting because they realise how different each agency is. Two, they’re incredibly valuable because they’ve worked with each agency; it’s like a test drive. Third, they also very clearly understand and know who they want to work with.

A presentation where you’re bringing in your senior team who are good at presenting—I feel any agency should be able to sustain a two-hour presentation but you try and sustain a full-day workshop. You can’t perform for a full day. You end up revealing who you really are as an agency when you have that amount of exposure to the client.

Chloe:

I think that goes back to the very beginning of the conversation: who do you put in the room? If you’re running a workshop I feel confident that anyone at PHD could work and that’s our bread and butter—that’s what we do. To put a strategic planning day on it wouldn’t matter who you put in the room.

You could put the most junior people and feel confident that they would be able to excite and deliver for the clients whereas a pitch presentation is the ability to speak and present confidently. It’s more like a sales role. If you had more media owners working in agencies it would become a real show and tell.

Darren:

Some of the best trading people in Australia when they’re under pressure to perform in a pitch presentation and you see them perspiring and they’re losing their place and the client’s judging them on their ability to do a presentation. The head of trading doesn’t have to be a good presenter. The head of trading has to be very good at negotiating the best possible deal for you.

It’s funny how we’ve created that artificial construct as a way of checking that someone is the right agency for the job.

Chloe:

Absolutely. I think the death by PowerPoint is not fair on the client either. I don’t know how they stay engaged for a whole day or two days when they’re going around and seeing each different agency. Having it more interactive where they get to put their ideas and thoughts forward as well is really a great format for doing that.

Darren:

One of the other things we’ve found with those workshops is putting in their incumbent creative agency into the workshop because you then test how well the creative agency works with the media agency; how well do they all work together. You can test that out.

Chloe:

Yeah, fantastic idea, especially considering media and creative there is a close fine line between the two of them at the moment. And media agencies are becoming more creative in the way they think and work and it’s important to make sure that creativity is enhanced through working with the creative agency. So, yes to that.

Darren:

We call it our pitch in a day process because it’s all about the day. You referenced Oystercatchers who recently launched a new pitch process that shortens the whole thing haven’t they?

Chloe:

Yes, they have. It’s been a global thing. The more you can condense the process, in terms of layers you want,  the more time you have to deliver great work. If you’re spending three weeks on an RFI that no one’s going to read, those layers are maybe not quite so necessary.

I was talking earlier about having great templates and not making it too difficult for the agencies to have to go through that process but giving us time to do some great work is really important.

Darren:

What are some of the things consultants could do better, generally, when they’re managing pitch processes?

Chloe:

That’s difficult because I’m talking to a pitch consultant.

Darren:

I’ve got a thick skin.

Chloe:

Not becoming an extension of their marketing team is quite important. Being objective about what you’re there to offer. A really important thing is to really understand the client’s business and what they’re looking for. If the consultant knows that it takes so much pressure off the marketer and also the agency because the consultant is always there and available to chat through this is what I think would help you.

Having that understanding is really important going into the business beforehand. And also, the transition period afterwards. We’ve worked with consultancies before, that you’ve won the new business, you call up the pitch consultant and it’s like ‘we’re not working on that anymore’. Having them from the beginning to the end of the process and the transition is something that could really help.

Darren:

We’d love to do that but most clients don’t want to pay for that. Once we’ve selected the agency, thank you very much. Just to provide some feedback generally, most agencies seem to think that the consultant makes or influences the decision whereas we’ve always very clearly positioned ourselves as facilitators of the process so that the client can make the most informed decision possible.

We know that there are consultants out there who put themselves on the selection panel and have a vote and try and influence that. But our concern, and mine personally, has always been that if you have influenced the decision then you have to take responsibility for when it doesn’t work.

Chloe:

Yes, I completely agree.

Darren:

But we both know that there are consultants that do that; they have their preferred agencies and are inclined to recommend those agencies and just go through the process.

Chloe:

And that’s not fair on the client because every client’s got different needs. They need to be making their own decision but it is the job of the consultant to completely understand their business and understand throughout the pitch process what agencies can deliver on that, so having an unbiased opinion is important.

Darren:

You’ve got to facilitate a successful outcome not make it. We’ve run out of time but thanks for coming to visit. I really appreciate it, Chloe.

Chloe:

Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Darren:

And last question. If you weren’t working at PHD where would you be working?

TrinityP3’s comprehensive Search and Selection process provides extensive market knowledge, tightly defined process and detailed evaluation and assessment. Learn more

 

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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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