The pitch process is broken: this is how to fix it

It's September, and prime pitching season is upon is. We all know the drill: chemistry meeting, RFI, Q&A session, pitch, anxious wait for a decision. But one size doesn't fit all when it comes to the pitch process.

The pitch process is broken, argues Lydia Hoye
The pitch process is broken, argues Lydia Hoye

If a brand wants an agency partner to understand and challenge their business, they should put down the handbook and create a pitch that is bolder, more dynamic, and unique to their brand.

Traditional pitches lack the two-way investment that any relationship needs, which is ironic when clients so frequently call pitches because they aren’t getting the level of service they expect.

I’ve lost count of the times clients have told me, amongst other things, they are looking for a new agency because their current one isn’t responsive enough.

The only way to get a long-term partner instead of a one-hit wonder is to put client servicing at the heart of the pitch process.

After all, in the buy/sell dynamic that is the pitch process, brands are buying into people – this means they are buying inspired ideas, expertise, passion and that team’s desire to do a bloody good job.

Lydia Hoye, managing partner at Kazoo Communications

Relationship objectives should carry the same weight as business and communications objectives.

After all, in the buy/sell dynamic that is the pitch process, brands are buying into people – this means they are buying inspired ideas, expertise, passion and that team’s desire to do a bloody good job.

So we should move away from the outdated hour-and-a-half pitch and transform it into a two-way process where agencies listen as much as they talk and prospective clients interact and talk as much as they listen.

We all know the phrase ‘people buy people’, so why not host an immersion day where the client gets to see if they gel?

The agency gets a feel for the business challenges and the client gets to see a team’s genuine interest, experience and understanding.

If brands want an agency partner who will help them make a real difference to their relationship with consumers, they need to start by demonstrating their own point of difference to the agencies pitching for their business and create a pitch process that is bespoke to their business needs.

And it’s not just down to the client; agencies should also rock the boat and suggest different ways of moving a pitch forward.

Likewise, an agency’s job is to create strong relationships between brands and people, so if we can’t manage to build a healthy two-way relationship with the client from the first date, then we’re in trouble.

Lydia Hoye is managing partner at Kazoo Communications

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