Is it time to ditch the pitch?
Pitch! That grueling process of deliberation, ideation, presentation, and selection. Inconvenient for clients and agencies, but is a necessary evil. However, the disconnect between agencies and brands during these pitch presentations begs the question, is a pitch necessary?
Let us explain.
When a pitch is called, most of the time, the goal for a lot of agencies is to win the pitch and not solve the brief per se.
No agency would put itself in a position to potentially lose the pitch by speaking truth to power about the brand. Instead, all forms of true diagnostic work are thrown out the window in favour of catchy slogans and fancy visuals aimed at exciting the brand team.
They can’t be blamed. Agencies need the revenue too!
As a result, agencies end up implementing strategies they never truly agreed to, or working with brands they don’t particularly enjoy. This ultimately leads to work dissatisfaction, burnout, and departure of key agency employees.
The problems with pitches are not limited to these. There are other issues such as:
1. Not enough brand immersion
There’s only so much information you can put in a brief. It’s called a “brief” for a reason you know? We ideate on insufficient information. No information is given about the campaign rollout, budget, priorities, previous campaigns, ongoing marketing activities, etc. Can we develop a truly strong strategy from a brief?
2. Brands want to reserve the right to give a strategy to the partner that can execute a given strategy at any point in time. An agency during a pitch process can develop a great strategy but fail to demonstrate convincing proof of capacity to execute. In this case, would you have an agency pitch for free and then give their strategy to someone else?
3. It promotes a sense of adversarial tendencies, amongst agencies
Pitches make agencies view each other as hard-core competitors. If my potential loss is your potential gain, and we only meet at 5 client pitches every year, it is hard to believe that we are allies, and want the same things.
The reluctance of both brand and agency to host and participate in pitches is well understood, even though it isn’t ideal.
For the agency, working on a pitch usually involves the man hours and effort of some or all of the senior members of the team, and that work isn’t billable with today’s approaches.
On the brand side, strategies today have very little depth, as agencies don’t put their best foot forward. Also, their costs tend to blow up more than usual, to reflect the time and effort put into the pitch proposal.
Although appreciated, the pitch fees that some well-meaning brands give are largely an honorarium of sorts, an expression of gratitude for the effort, and do not measure up to the man-hours employed to develop a best-in-class strategy.
We believe in a different approach. One that aligns both agency and client goals.
It’s a well-paid creative/digital diagnostic exercise for both agency and brand mid-senior teams, to co-create campaigns and strategies.
We call it the discovery process.
Although it takes considerably longer and requires much more participation from both parties, the process is sure to get the best possible outcome; the brand gets a true, solid strategy to launch and the agency gets properly paid for their time and does deep work that they are proud of.
This approach fosters decent Brand-Agency (regardless of execution outcome) as well as Agency-Agency relationships, proper brand immersion, co-created strategies, and the freedom to execute preferred strategy, whenever or where ever you choose.
It also gives you the liberty to have as many strategies as you want
We believe this is the most practical answer to the #brokenpitch process.
Hope this helps.
Want to chat about it? Learn More about our Digital Review and Roadmap Strategy and find out if it might be a good fit for you and your brand at this time.