Nov 2, 2011

The Good Pitch - Best practice for clients&agencies

«Clients and agencies have partnered to create a new global portal for information and sharing of practices on agency pitches called The Good Pitch. A blog, allowing industry discussion and debate to flourish, is central to the new site.
Developed by ISBA and the IPA, aims to bring to life the six pitch principles the organisations launched earlier this year. The site features background research conducted into client and agency pitching habits and costs, senior industry talking heads, ideas and suggestions for new ways to conduct pitches, best practice guidelines, details of pitch initiatives created in international markets and training suggestions. - via BizCommunity»

Perfect Pitch (Film) from The IPA on Vimeo.


«Why a site dedicated to client/agency pitch practices?

Our marketing communications world is changing at a rapid pace yet the IPA & ISBA found that most clients were still using the same old agency pitch process-in fact our research showed us that some pitches were even getting longer, and consequently the costs for our industry were escalating. The IPA & ISBA decided collectively to take a long hard look at the subject to see if we could provide some facts, inject new thinking and look for new ways of pitching which were more appropriate to 21st century business.
Our objective was to invigorate the pitch debate and provide a platform for the exchange of views. A task force was put together of senior clients and agency heads. We had many volunteers and it seemed like everyone wanted to open up and talk about pitching, which was great – click on the video link above to hear their views.

Through our conversations we realised that most marketing professionals do very few pitches in their working career. Consequently one of our key learnings was that people needed reminding about what a good pitch looks like. We also found that clients mainly defaulted to the old pitch method they had last used without thinking whether there was an alternative, more effective, way of running the pitch this time round.
Our research into the true cost of pitching uncovered major differences between client perceptions and agency realities.

This site has been created to provide everyone with an interest in this subject with some key principles, access to our research, hear the direct views of clients and agencies, related articles and live conference presentation, a view of what’s happening on pitches internationally, and available training and events. Most importantly we have created a blog for sharing experiences and exchanging ideas and views on pitching – have a good look round the site and add your voice to the debate.» - via TheGoodPitch

The 6 Pitch Principles

OPENNESS & TRANSPARENCY:  Both sides need to be honest about the opportunity.

Transparency is imperative all the way through the process, generally in most pitches there is an unnecessary level of secrecy. Why keep the names and number of agencies, budgets, time frames and resource a secret?

By opening this up agencies can make informed decisions on pitching and clients are assured of full participation and a more straight forward pitch journey.

Clarity of the opportunity is key from the outset, the scope of work, the timescale, the commercial opportunity, the reason it’s moving, and the individuals involved.

For fairness and consistency all agencies should be briefed on the pitch at the same time and place. Quality of briefing can vary significantly from first to last meeting so a single briefing platform ensures consistency of message, saves time for the client and encourages senior level participation.

RESPECT: Treat pitching with the respect it deserves. It requires senior involvement/authority from both sides from day one. Don't just bring the decision makers in at the end of the process. Only with senior client involvement from day one can the agencies be judged fairly.

Design a proper process that gets your housekeeping in order before the pitch.

Consider paying a fee to an agency as a sign of good intent.

Agencies should take care not to ambulance chase or pursue every opportunity to pitch published in the press. Be discerning about what the agency pitches for, be clear about what opportunities are right for the agency business.


BRAVERY : Both clients and agencies need to be brave when managing a pitch process. Clients need to say no if agencies try and squeeze last minute onto pitch lists –a well planned pitch does not need last minute additions.

Agencies need to be brave and firm with clients and push back if there is little clarity in or the brief is poor or if timescale are too tight or indeed too protracted.

Clients should feel confident that it’s OK to eliminate agencies along the way if they really don't have a chance – it’s not an imperative to finish with three or four agencies, when you are sure it will be one of two. It’s fine to consider cutting down the pitch list to two after say, the tissue session if it feels like the right decision.

Clients need to be able to say no to an agency and not feel bad about it. If the incumbent agency is not in with an equal fighting chance then it’s perfectly acceptable not to invite them to re-pitch, you will end up saving them a lot of time and money.

Also, there may be alternative ways of pitching that could be more efficient and effective for the task in hand, seeking expert advice from a specialist who could advise on other options.

Remember always be principled and always challenge bad practice.


ACCESS AND NAVIGATION: Is an imperative. Clients have to understand that for the pitch to be successful they need to make themselves available for the pitching agencies. Clients and agencies need to have the process clearly mapped out from the outset in terms of numbers, timings, people involvement and location. Who is the decision maker, and what is that decision based on.

Treat all pitching agencies as if they were the incumbent. Allow them to navigate their way through your business in the same way.


TIMING: Pitches can often go on too long. Set a timescale and stick to it where possible.

A creative pitch in four weeks may not always be possible but could be worth aiming for. Contemporary practice seems to indicate that pitches are elongating and this causes uncertainty and is costly to business. Many pitches are elongated by lengthy negotiations which should be contained within the pitch timeframe.

( Some pitches do take longer particularly Media and any pitch governed by the Official Journal of the European Journal.)


POWER OF COLLECTIVE ACTION – encourage both parties to sign up to the IPA/ISBA mutual pre-pitch NDA and be cautious of clients and agencies who are not willing to respect these principles.

At the very least remember the 5 P’s of pitching: 
  • Process
  • Preparation
  • Professionalism
  • Partnership
  • Payment

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