Advertising agency

Planning to hit the ball out of the park in your next pitch? Consider this as your test run

01 May, 2020

As an advertiser, you are always looking forward to the next pitch. (If you are not, you are probably in the wrong line of work – but that’s a topic for a different blog.) As an account manager, you are always looking forward to roping in the next big ‘whale’, but most of the time you have to settle for small fry. As a creative person, you are looking to unleash your creative juices, free from the restraints of ‘brand guidelines’ and the nature of your clients’ expectations.

The above is true for any and all ad men and women across the world. Remarkably, in India, which is the most unique market in the world, we are still untrained about ‘What makes a good pitch?’ It’s not a set of rules to be followed to the letter. It’s just a few guidelines to ensure you are not wasting your time with a wild goose chase when you could be investing it in something useful.

1. The Client’s Reputation

Has it ever happened to you, that you spend weeks making a great campaign only to discover at the pitch meeting that the client never had any intention of hiring you, or any other agency for that matter. Or maybe your pitch was successful and you began a partnership, but a month later you don’t see the money. When you ask your client you get something along the lines of ‘You will get it in a matter of days.’ These could be entirely avoided if you would just research about your client’s reputation a little bit. Ask around, do your research and get a true picture of who your prospective client really is. It will save you a lot of time and money in the future.

2. Ability to Spend on Media

This is a little more nuanced than the first. Long story short – the more your client can spend on media, the more traction and attention your work will receive, the more your agency will grow. It’s a simple equation.

3. Quality of the work done in the past

Your client is sometimes looking for a new agency because he isn’t happy with the level of work his current agency is providing him. However, that’s not always the case. Sometimes, you need to be observant about the kind of ad campaigns your prospective client has produced in the past. It will give you an idea of what kind of work they like and how intelligent they are with understanding and utilizing commercial art to grow their brand.

4. How many agencies have been called for the pitch?

This knowledge can help you approach a decision after considering many possibilities. You might think that if the competition is too high or if you are going up against big agencies like ONM and Publicis, it is almost a given you will lose. Yet, it might not always be the case. Having this knowledge is like an ace up your sleeve. It can help you assess the situation very keenly, and make decisions after considering many different perspectives.

5. What is the fee going to be?

As a marketer however, the guidelines are even simpler. They help you make the best choice in the quickest possible way.

  • Call as few agencies as possible. Cut the clutter. Choose only the ones best for your brand’s growth.
  • Shortlist based on past work and current leadership reputation. This will tell you the quality of work as well as the standard of service, both of which are necessary expectations from ad agencies.
  • Have an informal meeting with the leadership – get an idea of his knowledge of advertising as well as how he presents his whole company to you.
  • Ask an honest opinion about your brand and the decision it has made in the past. It won’t do you any good to work with people who are willing to agree with everything you might have to say.

Strategy vs Creatives

It doesn’t matter which side of the table you are on – client of advertiser. In a pitch meeting what takes home the ultimate prize is always the strategy. The creatives are the fluff pieces – the equivalent of dance numbers and fight scenes that make things interesting. However, the real story is always the strategy. Strategy is the way forward that the brand can continue. Strategy is what sells. No creative presented in a pitch ever sees the light of day. The strategy is what wins the pitches.

All in all, irrespective of which side of the pitch meeting you sit, you have the power to make it a much more engaging process that will ultimately help the brand, the agency as well as your personal portfolio.

Written by

Abhishek Jana

Assistant Vice President

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