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  • Writer's pictureDavid Meikle

What if you ran a pitch and nobody came?

Many pitches have been postponed to later this year, so we can expect a bubble in the new business market. How will you ensure that the best agencies will accept your invitation to pitch?

Intuition would tell you that the end of this year will be a feeding frenzy for agencies when all the pitches that have been postponed (and the ones that would have taken place anyway) collide in a massive pitching free for all.

On the one hand you’d be right, by all accounts it will be busy. But the situation will not necessarily be straight forward for all brands wanting to find a new agency home. Yes, almost all agencies lost significant revenue and yes, they will therefore be hungry – but they don’t have infinite resources to pitch for every opportunity that comes along.

Even before the Covid19 crisis, there wasn’t much fat to trim from agency resources – especially the mid-sized and smaller agencies - but now, there’s none. Therefore from an agency’s perspective, new business can’t be a straight numbers game, it has to be a conversion game; one where agencies will have to be selective about which opportunity is worth a gamble and which isn’t.

Muddying the waters further we could see larger agencies showing interest in smaller brands. The bigger agencies often have greater resources and can speculate more – a trend we saw after the global financial crisis of 2008. In the short term you might get high interest for a small brand – but will it be a sustainable relationship in the long run?

Making your invitation appeal

So if your business will be looking an agency toward the end of this year or the beginning of 2021, how can you increase your chances of your invitation to pitch being accepted by the agency you want? And these last three words are crucial – anybody could find you three agencies to pitch, but how can you make sure they’re ones you want? If you don’t, your pitch will only get you the best of the leftovers, which is a lot less likely to serve the purpose of your pitch in the first place.

Agencies are getting much better at telling good pitches from bad ones early on and they’ll likely only get better. RFIs that don’t make sense, opaque processes and requirements, procurement led processes with a lack of access to marketing are warning signs to the agency of a poor process and questionable opportunity. Similarly, if your account looks like it would be too big or too small will raise questions among the smartest agencies.

The HTBAG Co runs a process that starts with the client’s need and then identifies suitable agencies through an efficient series of filters to get the right match. Importantly, the early stages require very little investment from the agencies – only simple RFIs and Q&As – so early suitability can be established without asking too much. Unless there’s a reason for confidentiality, we run open processes so the agencies know with whom they might be competing. When you get the long list right this transparency indicates you know what you’re doing, gives the participating agencies more confidence in your process and increases their competitiveness.

So although times will be tough for agencies, it won’t be a straight buyers’ market by any stretch of the imagination. It will be up to advertisers to run good pitches if they want to get the best available talent.

And we’re here to help.

David Meikle

Founder – The HTBAG Co

Author – How to Buy a Gorilla

“The ultimate book for how to strategically source agency services…."

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