What’s in a pitch?

Naturally, as a busy communications agency, we’re used to being invited to pitches where we present our approach to a brief that’s been shared with us. 

There are usually two or three other agencies involved in the process, although in some cases it can be significantly more.

Agencies invest a huge amount of time preparing their pitch and success is largely down to the quality of the brief provided to the agency. This varies hugely from business to business – some are five lines long and contained within an email and others can run to dozens of pages.

Although the length of your brief isn’t an indicator of its quality, taking the time to fully consider what you want from your agency will reap rewards further down the line and ensure you aren’t disappointed on pitch day.

We’ve seen everything over the years. Sometimes briefs are prepared by the marketing team who think they know what their MD wants and then when it comes to signing off a proposal, it turns out the ideas are completely off the mark. In other cases, it’s clear that everyone from the cleaner to the chair has had an input so it comes out as a random shopping list and it’s impossible to satisfy everyone.

So, what should you consider when you’re putting together a brief for an agency?

Budget, budget, budget

The creative brief should provide specific information about your project: your goals and objectives; who will be involved in the project; and the timeframes you’re working to. A vital part of the brief is setting a budget. I can’t tell you the number of clients that are reluctant to reveal the budget they have available for a campaign. Believe me, failing to tell us will not benefit anyone – chances are your agency will take a wild guess and present ideas that you love but simply don’t have the budget to execute.  Click here for a more impassioned blog about this potentially thorny topic!

We took a decision many years ago to decline invitations to pitch if the client wasn’t prepared to share their budget at the outset. This approach has had a positive impact on our pitch success rate.

Be available

Once you’ve shared your brief, make sure there’s someone available to answer any questions your agency will inevitably have prior to the pitch. This will mean they’re less likely to misinterpret information you’ve provided and their ideas are more likely to hit the mark.

Let the agency get to know your brand

Your agency will have looked at your website, researched the market and your competitors but anything else you can provide will be helpful – send them your latest newsletter and any marketing collateral you currently use. Share info about your typical customer and what drives them to buy from you.  Also, if there are any businesses in your sector or campaigns that you think have really worked, share them. It’s a quick way for us to get a greater insight into your ways of thinking and what makes you tick.

How will you measure success?

Many different metrics can be used to measure a campaign. Your goal might be to increase brand awareness, position your company as experts in its field, launch a new service or increase sales of a certain product. Your agency will certainly suggest ways they will be measuring their campaign but if you know you’ll be measuring the agency on something specific, be explicit about this in the brief.

Give feedback

One of the most frustrating things for an agency is spending time on a pitch and then the potential client disappearing into the abyss. We’ve got thick skins so if it’s a no, we can take it. There will be times where agencies have impressed you more than us but we’d love to know what it was that didn’t quite work so we can hone our approach and make sure we get it right if the opportunity to work with you arises in the future.

To avoid disappointment, invest time in getting your brief right.  Your agencies are far more likely to present campaigns that really impress you.