This post is by Julian Barrans, Business Director, Asia for TrinityP3. Julian has worked as a business, marketing and branding professional for over 30 years, with more than half of that time in the APAC region, working both the client-side and agency side.
At first it seems like such a simple question, but the more you delve into it and the ramifications involved, it’s far more complicated if you want to have the best chance of getting it right!
I say this because even if you do everything right it’s not a guarantee that you’ll achieve 100% success, as you are making a decision on a relationship as well as team dynamics, skill sets and fees.
Therefore, to choose to go into a search/pitch process without being as well informed as possible is just multiplying the chances of not making the best decision, given the complexity involved.
Similarly, if someone is inclined to run their own pitch, without expert help, then they should still want to understand how to be better informed in making a decision, that is already challenging, risky and potentially a disastrous change….rather than the change for good, or even greatness, that is being looked for.
Maybe some enjoy the roulette wheel approach to decision making regarding agency search/selection, or maybe they don’t appreciate the value that can be added by the right consultant expertise?
However, if you are investing in data and Martech platforms to help you optimise your marketing approach, then to not look to data and experience to improve in this area too, is ridiculous, right?
One of my clients in Asia said, after completing a successful agency search and appointment, that they could not understand how any client could consider conducting such a search without the benefit of a robust process that included a financial analysis WITH independent benchmarking. It would be unwise to just compare each agency with each other, as, they may all be flawed in some way, in what they are offering a client, as they are going all out to win the business!
This client is absolutely right to say what they are saying, as we have seen agencies promise the earth and through our data, we’ve shown that it is not a realistic, sustainable, proposal and doomed to end in tears. And where the client has gone for it, guess what, it just ends in tears and expensive issues to deal with.
You can read about such an example here where it couldn’t have gotten any worse. Even though the client was shown that they shouldn’t believe what the agency said they could achieve, they still went for it. Even when better informed, mistakes can still be made, but when disappointment struck the client at least they knew where and why they had gone wrong, hopefully learning an important lesson too.
So, how might you better navigate your search/pitch to be better informed?
Tailor the process to suit your needs!
We find all clients have different needs and our approach is tailored to deliver what’s best for the client. However, the data analysis around the agency financials is always a key deliverable we are asked for from our clients once we explain why it’s so invaluable in helping decipher the agencies’ proposals.
Therefore, we offer a range of involvement from fully managed by us all the way to a partially managed approach, dictated by the client’s available time, skills and budgetary considerations. However, even when the client is doing a lot of the organising and calendar work, we are helping keep the process up to standard utilising our methodology, templates and guidance throughout. After all, we’ve been doing this for over twenty years and have added our know-how into what we do and how we do it!
Lean on us for our experience and unique capabilities
Organisations often think that as they have marketers (and maybe ex-creative and ex-media agency people too) in their midst, that they should be more than capable of carrying out a pitch and can save money on engaging consultants. What makes an ex-account director or ex-media planner/buyer, for example, an expert at getting the best out of a pitch? Is that what they did day in/day out, in their agency role? No!
Why would you ask them to deliver such an important process and outcome, when It’s just not something they did day in/day out and since they’ve moved client-side, it is not remotely on their deliverables.
As ex-agency individuals they may well have been involved in some pitching, but do they really understand the best process, how to set up and manage chemistry sessions, set up strategic and creative tasks and evaluate those?
Do they have access to agency lists and are they up to date with what’s happening in the market, with agency costs, with best practice contracts, etc? In general, they will be out of date or there will be dangerous gaps in their knowledge quite understandably. So why would the organisation ask them to carry out a search/pitch that will be poorly informed?
The pitch consultant does this work day in day out, but they are not all equal!
The point has to be made that because someone used to be an agency person, that they are not necessarily set up to be a great, or even a good, pitch consultant, just as a great creative person doesn’t mean they will be a great creative director.
On top of that many consultants do not have the following:
- Proven search methodology that has stood the test of time with hundreds of successful outcomes. TrinityP3 for example continues to improve its search methodology utilising a very experienced team from the marketing and agency world.
- Ready access to agency information beyond ‘what’s generally out there’. TrinityP3 for instance has its own Agency Register to draw on directly, in order to help better inform the search brief.
- Data on the hours it takes to complete any marketing related agency task you could imagine, along with the seniority and contribution required by each person in the agency team that should be working on that task. TrinityP3 has gathered this data tirelessly over years and geographies to give global capability in this area, to therefore be able to benchmark agency fee proposals. Then highlighting if an agency is offering good, fair or poor value, not just against the others in a pitch, but more importantly, against the real world and where, why and how they differ!
What next in the pursuit of a better-informed pitch decision?
Whatever situation you are facing I hope this has given you some food for thought, as you consider how to approach your next Pitch?
It’s pretty clear there are different levels of help out there and depending on the size of the prize of getting the result you’re looking for, you’ll consider going for being better informed, in what is already a challenging decision to make.
Changing agency is always painful and disrupting to the marketing team, brand and organisation, so minimising the risk of making a mistake by being better informed is just a smart step to take.
Good luck with your next pitch and just remember….help in being better informed is here if you need it!
TrinityP3’s comprehensive Search & Selection process provides extensive market knowledge, tightly defined process and detailed evaluation and assessment. Learn more here