Anyone in the advertising world is familiar with the request for proposal (RFP) and pitch process that clients use to find agencies and that agencies use to obtain new business. After spending years in the industry, I’ve worked on and attended countless pitches. Through that experience, I’ve become very familiar with the challenges the process presents—for both parties.
- Agencies could potentially pull a bait and switch
While pitch teams usually consist of senior leaders and subject matter experts within the agency, staffing needs and competing business could cause agency teams to shift once the business is onboarded. While expected to a certain degree given the numerous clients agencies juggle, baiting and switching the agency teams too often after pitches can cause distrust and start the relationship off on the wrong foot. At Fingerpaint, we value the trust of our clients and do everything in our power to make sure the teams feel comfortable with each other, have good chemistry, and can hit the ground running once the pitch is over.
- Things are a little too rehearsed
We love the opportunity to get a case study from the client and work on and present solutions in real-time. The client team gets to see how we work together, think on our feet, and approach the challenges they present in a more authentic way than a traditional pitch. Some of our most successful pitches didn’t involve an RFP process but instead entailed an interactive workshop where the client visited us and saw how we worked together in person, versus watching us present slides that we practiced countless times.
- You could be judging creative that the agency didn’t even create
It’s no secret that agencies in big holding networks share creative for pitches to demonstrate their experience in certain sectors. For example, a healthcare agency could pitch an over-the-counter medication brand using a case study for Mucinex. The client they are pitching to, however, would not know that the work for Mucinex was actually created by a completely different agency in the same network, likely the consumer shop. Therefore, the client is judging an agency based on successful work done by an entirely different group of people. This isn’t an issue with independent agencies.
To see if your agency is performing to your standards, try taking my free agency assessment. If you find that you need a new partner, keep in mind the common pitfalls of pitching and consider taking a different approach to the process. You’ll end up with an agency team that truly acts as an extension of your own, and the work you do together will be better as a result.