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Six tips for running a successful marketing agency pitch

6 tips for running a successful marketing agency pitch

Published by Mark Brennan,
Head of Digital; Senior Digital Marketing Manager at Freshfield

Choosing the right marketing communications agency is a difficult process for any business. If you don’t have an existing agency relationship, or a hot referral from a trusted colleague, how do you find the perfect blend of hunger, creative ideas and market knowledge?

The answer tends to be some form of agency pitch process. However it is easy to end up designing a process which delivers a disappointing result. Having been both a supplier and a consumer of marketing services, the key lessons I’ve learned are:

1. Be selective from the outset

Do you really want to review eight, ten or twelve marketing agency pitches? If the answer is no then do your research and put together a shortlist of invited agencies. If you don’t know of any agencies, ask your contacts and do some research online. If there are fewer agencies involved you can focus more effort on choosing your perfect partner.

2. Provide clear goals and objectives

All successful communications programmes start with the end in mind. The shortlisted agencies don’t just need to know about your business and your market – they need to know what is important to you in order to develop ideas that deliver.

3. Ask for evidence and ideas

While there are differences in the way that agencies manage communications programmes, the biggest differentiators between agencies are their experience and the strength of their ideas. Can the agency demonstrate its knowledge and experience in your industry and deliverable ideas that will meet your communication goals?

4. Set an indicative budget

Clients often think that by not setting a budget for a project they get the best deal – but this often isn’t the case. Busy agencies (i.e. the best ones) may choose not to participate at all, or may pitch ideas that are far too ambitious for your budget – thus limiting your options.

5. Meet your service team

A key part of your process should be to understand who will be delivering the work and getting to know them prior to the decision. It is easy to fall into the trap of building an effective rapport with senior personnel only to find that it is less experienced staff who’ll actually be doing the work. Make sure you meet (and approve) the people who’ll be working on your behalf.

6. Define a complete agency pitch process

Agencies work hard to differentiate themselves, and so choosing the ‘best fit’ for your business can be like comparing apples and oranges. To make this easier, define your success criteria from the outset and score all agencies against the same criteria. You should also ensure that the decision isn’t allowed to stall – as this will damage the successful agency’s ability to hit the ground running on your campaign.

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