Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Are you Pitching to Win?

Many agencies seem to believe that great creative, great strategy, great research, great chemistry, great (insert your criteria here) is the key to winning a pitch.  And that the agency's creative/strategy/chemistry/etc. is so great that it will overcome any shortcomings that they may have.

Unfortunately, a pitch is more like a hurdles race.  You do not get extra credit for sailing three feet over a hurdle.  It is not like you can use that extra three feet on the next hurdle.  Each hurdle, whether it is creative/strategy/chemistry/etc. is a new challenge.  Fail any one challenge and you will likely lose the pitch.

The difficulty is that each of the different criteria require resources and effort.  The internal competition for resources at an agency can be a political minefield.  There are a thousand reasons that a particular department may get more than their fair share of resources but this can have a detrimental effect on the overall pitch.

For example, an agency may spend a bunch of money on primary qualitative and quantitative research but only assign two teams to concept for the pitch.  Another agency may put six creative teams  on the pitch but rely on secondary data and a few qual interviews for their research, creating a flimsy strategic foundations for their recommendations.  It could be that they agency already knows the category and doesn't need to do the research but no clients wants to hear that their agency already knows it all.

A terrible example that I witnessed was an agency spent well over $100,000 on primary research and did their presentation on a poor quality, $700 projector.  Poor allocation of resources.

Another frequently squandered resource is time.  How much time is the agency spending tweaking slides or creative instead of rehearsing.  While I realize that there is such a thing as over-rehearsing, experience says that most agencies never get anywhere near being too rehearsed.  A poorly presented presentation can torpedo a good pitch very quickly.

Money is the most obvious and scarce resource.  For every dollar that the agency spends on freelancers, that is one less dollar that they can spend on research, production, staging, etc.

The challenge is in making sure the agency clears every hurdle.  You can do this by better managing resources like people, time and money to insure that every area is being addressed.  Are you using resources as wisely as you could?

Mark Schnurman
President - Filament Inc.

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