Seeing red: Pitching is a two-way street

The best clients want to inspire agencies at pitches, not ignore them, says Melanie Cullis, associate director at Kindred.

On the whole, pitch experiences are pretty good. That said, we all have an amusing pub anecdote like the technology or wardrobe fail, the epic hangover story or odd client behaviour that defies explanation. I’m naming no names.

Tales from different agencies over the years have inspired me to write about pitch etiquette or, put more simply, manners.

These include the decision maker not turning up to the pitch meetings at all, or clients staring at their phones throughout, leaving early, or taking calls during the meeting. If you think about all of the agencies and the weeks of work involved, what really was the point?

I’m not suggesting that these clients attend finishing schools (although that could make for great television). This is what makes us agency people, right? We just dust ourselves off and soldier on, ready to win the next one.

Brilliant clients have long known that partnerships are exactly that: a two-way exchange. A pitch meeting is the first time to get your new agency team inspired. If you’re a client doing this, bravo.

In part, we can thank intermediaries for reaffirming some basic but fundamental pitch principles: "Setting up for success with respect, good grace and good manners, and ensuring people treat each other how they want to be treated, is an essential part of every successful pitch and long-term relationship." (Thanks to Richard Robinson at Oystercatchers for that one.)

It really is the icing on the cake when you win business that has been a genuine delight to pitch for.

Just remember clients: if you want the best creativity and service from us, then a few simple pleases and thank-yous will help your cause.

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