84% Of Clients Have Picked A Winner Before An Agency Pitch Begins
Steve’s breakdown: That’s the headline of a recent Forbes article that sighted a survey of 150 marketers about there personal experience with the pitch process.
This is terrible for many agencies but great news for folks who read our Account Review Predictions. The few agencies that have this information never need to wait for a pitch because they know one’s coming and can be the early favorite from the beginning.
Ain’t it refreshing to get great news when a headline sounds so bleak?
Here’s more of the Forbes article: “Do you know which agency is going to win before the pitch?” That’s the question John Heenan, Agency Growth Consultant, asked 150 marketers for his post, “Is an agency pitch a fair fight?” Seventy-one percent answered “Sometimes” and another thirteen percent said “Yes.” If this data is projectable to the nation’s marketers, marketing has a serious problem, not just agencies.
What goes around, comes around.
After spending 7 years doing nothing but pitches for Arnold Worldwide in Boston, I know what goes into a pitch – the expense, the hours, the stress, the emotion, all of it.
To learn that 84% of clients sometimes or definitely have a winner chosen before we begin the pitch explains a lot of the losses we experienced. One pitch I was sure we won, where an underling on the client side said (keeping in mind we ultimately lost), “You guys blew the others out of the water. We just need to clear it with the CEO.”
But the worst part is that agency wonks like me actually thought we had a chance. We believed in ourselves, we believed in our research (which we paid for on your behalf), we believed in our work and we were willing to give up our lives for a couple months in order to prove it to you.
And we were just one agency. There were nineteen others all doing the same thing, starting with the RFP. Well, eighteen others doing it in vain, anyway. One of the twenty was probably already the winner.
What marketers are doing is exploiting the natural, blind, childlike hopefulness of advertising agencies. I bet you could tell the other 19 agencies that it’s rigged and they’d still think they can win. I know I always thought we could. We’re competitive that way.
But it’s not right. And in the end it’s not in your interest.
In any given pitch, you are wasting the time, resources and profit of 19 agencies. And guess how they’re going to make that up? You know that “overhead” your agencies charge that you hate paying for? That only goes up.
So while you get “free” ideas from 20 agencies during this pitch, the expense will come around to you eventually in the overhead of the agencies you do hire.