REICHLUNDPARTNER supports the initiative of the IAA on the topic of "Quality Pitch".
Below you will find eight recommendations for clients who are looking for a creative agency and are not subject to public procurement law:
1. Create a culture characterised by quality!
The search for a new agency partner is in many cases a decision for years of cooperation. The entire process should therefore be based on professionalism, seriousness, transparency and mutual appreciation.
2. Take a look at many agencies, but invite only a few to pitch!
The client should take the opportunity to get to know as many agencies as possible better via a personal (free) screening appointment. In this appointment, which usually lasts one to two hours, the agencies can present their working methods, their references and also the people behind them. It has been shown that it makes sense to reduce the number of participants in the pitch to those who were most promising after the screening dates. A maximum of 4 agencies is recommended (if the budget holder is also invited). This ensures that in the presentation phase there is enough time for the exchange between agencies and client and that both sides get to know each other better. Experience has shown that inviting more agencies does not lead to better results. It is also appreciated if the agencies participating in the pitch are announced transparently.
3 Only a good briefing leads to good results!
In addition to a written briefing, there should also be the possibility of a personal re-briefing with the persons responsible for the agency decision, so that the task can be questioned. This increases the agencies' understanding of the task and leads to better results. At the same time, the client becomes better acquainted with the agency's way of working and thinking and with the key personnel in charge. The process itself should be kept as lean as possible. The scope of the presentation (advertising material to be worked out) should be set in such a way that one can well imagine the implementation of the idea (folders ready for printing bring little in this phase, for example).
4 Talk early about money and agency contract!
It is important to inform at least roughly about the available budget already in the briefing, so that the agencies can compile a concept custom-made on this budget. Also address as early as possible (e.g. at the screening date) your wishes regarding fee or fee model and the contents of an agency contract or have the agency make a proposal (e.g. as an agenda item at the re-briefing). Thus, in the case of an assignment, there are no different expectations regarding the fee. If the fee expectations of agencies are unexpectedly high or low, they will address it. Maybe it is a misunderstanding, but maybe it is also the chance to take agencies out of the pitch for this reason and fill them with others. Too "cheap" agencies are almost even more dangerous than too "expensive" agencies, because quality over a longer period of time is only possible through corresponding fees.
5. Quality needs a certain time!
The agencies should be given enough time to prepare the presentation (4 to 8 weeks between briefing and presentation, depending on the size of the project). The agencies should also have enough time (at least 1 hour) for the presentation itself. A good idea is quickly told, but the client should also be able to understand the arguments behind this idea, because this understanding is ultimately also necessary for the qualitative evaluation (therefore it makes sense to plan some time for questions after the presentation). The agencies should decide how best to use this time and who to present. In this way, the clients can get to know the different agency cultures and better judge which agency suits them best. A too large levelling of the agencies on formal level in view of a better comparability sounds tempting, is however in the long run counterproductive.
6 The more transparent the evaluation, the more comprehensible the decision!
Communicate to the agencies how the decision making is planned. If a jury evaluates, its members should be involved in the entire process if possible (screening, briefing, re-briefing, presentation). Smaller juries, made up of members who ultimately also work with the agency, have proven their worth. Since only agencies that fulfil all basic criteria (references, Spirit Team/key personnel, etc.) are invited to the pitch, the quality of the ideas should be given the highest weight in the evaluation. The fee or the price should not be more than 30% in the evaluation (a good quality often saves more money than haggling over an agency fee). In the interests of transparency, agencies that have not been given a chance should be given the opportunity to find out the reasons for this by means of a de-briefing.
7. Acknowledge the investment of the agencies in the pitch!
A serious pitch costs an agency between 30,000 and 100,000 Euros (if several employees work several weeks, often hundreds of hours come together, with larger pitches even more than a thousand). In addition, there are external costs for layout spots, illustrations, stock photos, etc.). Therefore, it is a sign of appreciation that those agencies that have held a complete presentation but do not get a chance receive a distance fee. The amount depends on the size of the budget to be allocated and the effort required for the presentation. As a guideline, between 2% (for larger budgets) and 3% (for smaller budgets) of the expected annual agency fee has proven to be the lower limit. If the expected annual agency fee is less than 100,000 euros, the effort and costs of a large pitch are out of all proportion to the order volume. Then consider reducing the scope of services accordingly or starting a test project with the best-ranked agency from the screening dates. All rights to the ideas and works presented remain the property of the agencies even after payment of a distance fee.
8. Keep all important agreements in writing!
If not all important basic conditions (secrecy, dates, distance fees, evaluation etc.) are recorded in the briefing, then they agree these again in writing in a short pitch agreement.