The 7 deadly pitch sins

What clients get wrong when running a pitch process, and when agencies get wary.

7 deadly pitch sins
7 deadly pitch sins

1. Too many agencies on a list

The optimum number of agencies is three or four. Any more than this is a sign a client lacks industry knowledge. 'Agencies should be wary of long pitch lists. It's potentially indicative of how the client will act in the long term,' says the AAR's Alex Young. Clients should recognise an agency will put in less effort if it has only a one in eight chance of winning. By pitch stage, Young says a client should be prepared to work with any of the remaining agencies.

2. Not meeting an agency before the pitch to explain the brief

Clients will get the best from a pitch process if they give agencies the information they need to produce relevant ideas.

3. Reverse auctions

'It's an insane way of getting an agency. If an agency is going to make a massive loss on an account, a client isn't going to get the best resource or people on the account,' says Hope& Glory founder James Gordon-MacIntosh.

4. Not specifying a budget

Young says that clients need to be able to compare like with like and this is only achieved if everyone is working to the same budget.

5. Allowing procurement a free rein

If procurement is too heavy handed, it will lead to a reduction in the quality of work and ideas.

6. History of poor agency relationships

Tales of poor agency treatment by a client will quickly do the rounds. Clients need to ensure they do not put good agencies off.

7. Overly demanding or vague briefs

Clients should write a brief that requires a response that is proportionate to the account fees. 'In an hour-and-a-half pitch, you can't ask agencies to boil the ocean,' says Young.

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