A better way for advertisers’ to to select agencies

I was at a function for the New Zealand Marketing Association in Auckland last Thursday, where they were talking about agency / client relationships.

The interesting thing was that one of the speakers was a marketeer who had pitched his account and also awarded his account without a pitch and so the conversation moved to what was the best way to select an agency – pitch or no pitch?

Clearly from the agencies’ point of view, winning business without a pitch is the best way to win business. But is it the best way for the advertiser?

Certainly the current process of the “creative beauty parade” is flawed.

As is the more formal Request for Tender / Request for Proposal (RFT/RFP).

In both cases much of the work the agency does goes on behind the scenes with little or no way for the advertiser to see. (Except through the well orchestrated and staged managed presentation).

Please excuse the agency’s spelling error in the super. Clearly either spell check was not working or the copywriter can’t spell.

But just because there are flaws in the current pitch process, does not mean you should reject it completely. There is a better way and it has been used in Europe for many years.

The most common process involves (Often called the beauty parade):

1. Choose a group of agencies

2.Review agency credentials

3. Meet with agencies

4. Briefing them on a project – creative, media or digital as appropriate

5. Sitting through the presentations

6. Selecting the agency with the best idea

7. Negotiating the fee

8. Appoint successful (and often cheapest) agency

Problems are:

1. It is good if you are buying one idea but not good for longer term working together (after all, what if the idea was a one off fluke?)

2. Is incredibly time consuming and wasteful for the agencies (and also the marketeers, but that is often overlooked)

3. Is an artificial process based on posturing and performance that does not allow the marketeers to really get to know the agency and how they work (Supported by the fact that rarely is creative work presented in the pitch process used)

TrinityP3 has been using the process developed using world’s best practice as detailed in our White Paper on the subject.

The TrinityP3 process involves (Often called the strategic pitch process):

1. Establishing a brief for the agency capabilities required

2. Undertaking a complete market search for potential agencies

3. Obtaining specific case study credentials as proof of capabilities

4. Undertaking chemistry meetings to ensure compatibility and shared values

5. Providing short listed agencies with a strategic brief

6. Discussing remuneration based on scope of work

7. Participating in a full day strategic workshop with each agency (may require demonstration of creative expression)

8. Negotiating remuneration with preferred agencies

9. Appointing successful agency

Benefits are:

1. Opportunity of test driving agencies’ strategic problem solving

2. Establish value remuneration based on quality and quantity

3. Ensures agency and client have as realistic opportunity as possible to evaluate each other

Experience has shown that this takes no additional advertiser or agency time and leads to much better and more informed selection decisions