How long does it take to run a pitch to select a new agency? Typically the answer is about 12 – 14 weeks from beginning to end. It can take even longer as we have seen recently with some very high profile agency reviews undertaken by procurement.
Three months is a long time in many industry categories. It’s also a long time to invest a lot of time in the process, for both agencies and the marketers selecting them.
Many would argue it is required to undertake a rigorous and exhaustive review of the options for such an important decision. That may be true. But what if you only had five or six weeks to select an agency? What if you needed to have a new strategic partner and did not have three months or more to do it?
Then you need “A pitch in a day?”
What is a “Pitch in a Day?”
I first heard about this from Debbie Morrison at ISBA in London. They had held a pitch in a day for a client that was incredibly successful. So we embraced the methodology and bought it down under.
The process involves the following steps:
- Market review – 2 weeks
- Credentials and Chemistry – 1 week
- Strategy & Creative workshop – 2 weeks
- Commercial arrangements – 1 week
Some of these stages run concurrently but basically involves the following process.
1. Market Review
We develop a brief of the marketers’ requirements and then undertake a market review using the information on the TrinityP3 Agency Register and the industry knowledge of the consultants. This provides the marketers with a wide view of the market including the best-fit agencies, the market conflicts and the John West list I have written about previously.
From this the marketers are able to choose no more than six agencies to meet with.
2. Credentials & Chemistry
This stage can be managed a number of ways.
- You can meet with the agency and have them present their credentials (this is the fastest).
- You can have agencies prepare written credentials and review these to decide which agencies you want to meet with to test the chemistry.
- You can meet with the agencies in chemistry meetings and select which agencies are to present written credentials.
When we talk about chemistry meetings, we are not referring to a casual chat, but the more rigorous process we have described and reviewed here. From this process the marketers ideally select only those agencies they really want to work with, because the next step has them working directly with the agency. Strictly speaking this is three or less.
3. Strategy & Creative Workshop
This is the pitch in a day. Because for each agency the marketers think they want to work with they are going to spend a day with that agency working on a strategic and or creative brief.
It is the ultimate test drive between marketer and agency. I have written about the benefits of workshops as a way of selecting agencies here previously. But basically the marketing team prepare a brief and this is supplied to each agency a few days before a full day workshop is held at the agency between the marketing team and the agency team.
The workshop is a fully interactive process, with the day and the process determined and managed by the agency. They are evaluated on a wide selection of criteria, but fundamentally it is:
- How effectively the two teams worked together including chemistry, culture and alignment (Journey)
- How developed and on-brief and brand the outcome of the day (Destination)
4. Commercial Arrangements
This actually commences at the end of the second stage when the marketing team shortlists the agencies for the workshop process.
A scope of work and cost templates are prepared and supplied to each agency to be completed during the workshop process. The template is basically a customised proposal of agency costs to work on the account, should they be successful.
We are able to analyse these and determine the cost and value of each agency proposal against each other and the marketplace.
These are reviewed with the marketers only after they have selected their preferred agency and the negotiations with that agency commence.
The benefits of the “Pitch in a Day”
- It is time efficient for both marketers and agencies
- The process is less disruptive for both marketers and agencies
- It allows marketers to test drive the agencies in close to real world circumstances
- You are more likely to be working with the agency team that will be working with you should they be successful
- You can see and experience how the agency thinks and works
- Experiencing the agency personnel at work allows you to determine individual value in the agency proposals
The “Pitch in a Day” process has proven time and again that rigorous and robust agency reviews do not have to take months and cause major disruption or require significant investment from both the marketers and agencies.
If you are interested in a more effective and efficient way to select your agencies I would recommend all marketers use the ‘Pitch in a Day” process.
What do you think?
Darren I think this is a fabulous alternative to the full-blown pitch. I especially like the fact the decision making process is driven by chemistry and strategic alignment with the agencies as opposed to a winning creative idea, which is often not an indicator of long term cultural compatibility.