Pitfalls of Pitching

This is a topic that has had a lot of discussion and will continue to do so, but last week, after our second pitch of the week, and whilst discussing our next four, the conversation inevitably turned to the pitch process and the pro’s and cons for both agency and client.

The sheer magnitude of blood sweat and tears – literally – that goes into pitching is something that often goes unseen. Pitches are all consuming, and whilst the actual process of discussing and developing the concept – ‘The Big Idea’- is hugely exhilarating and rewarding, the process is so consuming that it rarely goes unnoticed by friends and families

In ‘pitch mode’ my wife knows not to talk to me about what I would like to eat for the rest of the week or the fact that my son has lost yet another pair of rugby shorts. Instead partners of people in peak ‘fever pitch’ kindly allow us to be the slightly absent, non communicative people that we retract into until pitch mode is over.

The pitch in question last week was to a potential new client.  We were meeting them for a face-to-face briefing at which we offered to tell them a little more about us, and how we would approach the project. The response to this was:“We know who you are, we have done our due diligence – you wouldn’t be in the room if we didn’t think you were the right people for the job and capable of delivering it.”

Whilst this is inevitably flattering, our thoughts remained: “Why not give us the brief before the meeting? We could have then run a session whereby we interrogate the brief and get to know the client, their expectations and aspirations  and conclude with a shared vision.

This holistic and open, person-centric approach is how we work with our existing clients and how we run our brand workshops . The results are on brief and 9 times out of ten exceed our clients expectations.

This is not only a more productive approach but also a more financially viable one. Three agencies were invited to pitch for the aforementioned client, each who will have speculated several thousands of pounds in time alone, not to mention energy in preparing their ideas and presentation.

With over 25 years of agency work under my belt, this pitch scenario has led me to ask:

In this age of collaborative working, is the pitch a thing of the past?

Should pitches be replaced by a familiarisation session from which the client decides who to issue the brief to? Would this more – organic – ‘best fit’ method be successful? Perhaps the opportunity ‘not to pitch’ would be too tempting and the odd agency might sneak in an idea in order to win the project.

Or perhaps it is a sign of a good agency to honour this new age of collaboration and work together to rebrand the out-dated pitch process.