Friday, 21 June 2013

Pitches: the changing landscape for iMedia

The Pitch approach to winning new business has always been controversial, but it had become an accepted way of working – part of the culture of agency (creative) and government work. It looks as if this is changing, so is it time to evaluate your approach?

The rationale for doing ‘pitches’ from the client’s point of view, was that they got to see the capabilities and skills of several businesses before they committed money to them. In the spirit of ‘creative’ work, the client wanted to see the potential of the ideas for their business. The rationale for doing pitches from the company’s point of view was the possibility of winning lucrative and profile-enhancing new business.

But, in reality, how often does this happen? The criticisms of the clients involved in the process include: they just used the process to confirm their present provider and drive their price down, they used the process to pick up ideas that they then got a rival of ours to implement. The criticisms of the agencies involved in the process include: we saw the same old pitch from them, nothing new, they weren’t prepared well and seemed inexperienced, they just didn’t seem to take it seriously.

As for the pitching process itself, criticisms from the agencies about the process are: it involves a lot of time and effort that is unpaid and has risky potential return, we can’t dedicate a specialist team for pitches although we need to because we aren’t big enough, we dedicate specialist teams to pitching for new business but the return doesn’t warrant the use of resources. There are more of these criticisms at: MCM2’s blog, The Top 5 Worst Pitch Experiences (10.6.13)

These criticisms are finally having an impact on the way pitches are conducted. Will Burns in The Pitch and its Costly Blindspot (25.4.13) states that the process is no longer giving the clients free access to the ‘best’ ideas. This had been the fundamental principle for the process. He’s found from his research that agencies are saying ‘no’ to the offer to pitch. He advocates clients having help from a pitch consultant to draw up a list of agencies and then having ‘intimate’ meetings/dinners to understand the potential of the agency. This is far cheaper, allows access to the smaller companies, and takes the cost pressure off the agencies. What do you think about that? He advocates agencies getting paid for the work they do: no free pitches anymore. What do you think about that?

If you are still in to pitching, you’ve just time to get to a conference on 17th of July in Cardiff through The Chartered Institute of Marketing, entitled The Winning Pitch: Grow your Business.

Then you might also like a dedicated blog for pitching at ‘Winning Words’.

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