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Eight ways to get the art of creative pitching right

What's the key to get your creative pitches right to acquire a new client and how to go beyond the information that client gives and uncover the real brief? We discuss a few points that should be kept in mind to make the pitch process smooth

With the number of advertising account reviews and calls for re-pitching rising in recent years, it's evident that the environment to win new accounts for agencies is getting trickier and more competitive than ever before.

So, what's the trick to get the creative pitching right to win a new business? Ask any veteran around, the win starts well before the pitch, when the early relationships are nurtured.

For any agency, the final cost of pitching is recovered a year after the account win. So, the key here is not only to acquire the account but keeping it long term.

In part one, we highlighted the challenges of creative pitching. In this second part, we explore the basics, which, if kept in mind, can make the pitch process a non-tedious affair.

This compilation is based on the conversation with Ajay Gahlaut, Chief Creative Officer, Ogilvy North and Deputy CCO, Ogilvy India, Vandana Das, President, DDB Mudra Group (North),  Syed Amjad Ali, President, Mullen Lintas Delhi, Amit Wadhwa, President Dentsu Impact, Naresh Gupta, CSO and Managing Partner, Bang In The Middle.

How do you increase your chance of success during the pitching process?

Meet your clients before pitch presentation

Focus more on nurturing the client relationship early on. Both clients and agencies should work in a collaborative manner to get the desired result. Go beyond the information that client gives and uncover the real brief that will reveal the real agenda.

Pitching should not be an opaque process

At times, clients won’t tell on what basis they are judging the agencies. Gupta said, “You won’t get to know on what basis you have won or lost the pitch.” He suggested that every pitch should be run by a third party. “At least you will feel that somebody is involved in this whole process, who is not a part of the decision making. Otherwise, it will be one of those things which will keep on happening and you won’t have any clue that why is it even happening,” added Gupta.

Know the brand well

Fetch all the information on the brand, including all the research work the brand has done. Das said, “Sometimes clients give you the brief but don't share the research they have done. So, you have to continuously ask for research work from them.”

Check out past work

One should also go through all the past work done by the brand as it forms the foundation of the brand’s thinking and the way it behaves and thinks. When you know the kind of work the brand has done in the past, you can brief your creative people accordingly. If the brand has done quirky work in the past, no point asking your creatives to ideate something very safe.

Don’t blindly assign a team on the pitch

One should carefully choose the team from the agency to be appointed on the brand pitch. It should not be the case that you send the team which is relatively free. The brand pitch should only be assigned to the team that is expert in the category and passionate about brand building in the particular category. Giving an example of choosing the right team for a brand pitch, Das said, “If you are pitching for a bike brand, pick out people who are bike enthusiasts in the office and not necessarily the team that is free.”

Find out the kind of agencies participating

The creative agencies should try to dig out the kind of agencies participating and accordingly plan the creative presentations for the pitch. By this, one can know the kind of work the other agency can bring to the table and prepare accordingly.

Here are a couple of things that brands should keep in mind when calling a pitch

Brands should have a clear pitch objective

Clients should be clear in terms of what they want to achieve from the pitch. A marketer’s objective should be defined well whether he wants to increase his consumer base or if the client’s company is matured, he can only focus on building the brand. They should be clear about the problem to be solved. Ali said, “At times, clients come to us asking for emotional campaigns, without well-defined problem areas even after being a well-known brand.”

Know the credentials of agencies participating

The marketers should not call 10-15 agencies for a pitch. They should be very clear about what kind of agencies they want to work with. There are many kinds of agencies: The ones that are smaller and also the ones that have the credential of building the brands. Ideally, two to three agencies should be called for pitching on the basis of past work. If the client is clear about what they want, there should be no confusion on the agencies they want to call for a pitch presentation. This can help save the agencies’ as well as the brands’ time and efforts.

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