At Flock we are members of the mutual appreciation society in the adrenaline rush of a pitch. Choosing your agencies, the first meeting, the anticipation of the first round of pitch meeting to see what they’ve come up with, the leave-behind and the ‘theatre’ of it all. There is no doubt that ‘social distancing’ is not the pitch best friend, but despite the slow start in lock down, the hunt for fresh creative, thinking and excellence has never been higher. It’s worth noting that despite the apparent appetite for swapping out agencies, Flock will always see/ask if calling the pitch is really necessary. Pitches are expensive and time consuming which is why we have developed a “Get Fit” programme for agencies which not only avoids the impact of a pitch, but you end up with a leaner, stronger outfit which in turn delivers better work. We have written main pieces on “Get Fit” but for today we want to talk about things we have learnt from remote pitches.
Creative freedom is really the element agencies enjoy the most during the pitching process. The theatre, one-upping the competition, being disruptive and creating an element of surprise. Most of these opportunities have been stripped away in these times as they are confined to a 16:9 ration of a Zoom screen. It’s hard to recreate the theatre of turning a board around with a killer ad, or presenting a wonderful mood board with surround sound. Next slide and a buffering, or pixelated video isn’t quite the same.
TIP: Give your agency more rope to think about how is best for them to present. It may be unconventional but trust their instinct. If nothing else, it will inform your assessment on how agile and creative they are.
In a meeting room, it’s hard to hang out your washing, squeeze in some lunges and tidy up your desk, but with remote access, camera “off” and “mute” allows you to be able to do all of these. Tracking conversations and what’s going on is hard enough on Zoom without distractions, so try and be present – the agency will have spent a lot of time on their response, so take the time to soak it all up. We have just run a pitch where the entire team got dressed up – that was not to be missed!
TIP: Ask everyone to “unmute” and have video on. It helps you concentrate and also allows for freer dialogue. Sure, there may be instances to “mute” because of background noise but try to avoid it if you can. Screaming kids, dogs barking etc just adds to the authenticity – more on that later.
Now more than ever, this is the time to make sure you ask your agency to respond to what’s important to you. If you know their creative pedigree and you want a great team, focus on that. Agencies and clients alike are prioritising what’s important in their business. With multiple layers of redundancies and ad spend being slashed, this is not the time to be asking for everything and sundry.
TIP: As a team write down ‘why’ you want a new agency. The pain points of your incumbent. Then you can prioritise and discuss with a helper (e.g. Flock) or amongst yourselves what an agency is likely to be able to deliver. Our go-to stance is three asks:
- The team
- A challenge
- Ways of working
Never more have we needed to try to understand the feelings of another, and at Flock we believe an open dialogue between client and agency is successful for a long and prosperous future together. Be mindful of pitching during holiday season, the Tuesday after a bank holiday, expecting blood from their submission. Not attending a meeting because of holiday commitments should not be judged as a sign of weakness, rather a strength. The agency cares about its people and in turn you have insight into the agency’s working culture.
TIP: Obviously avoid holiday dark spots, give agencies the time to deliver and importantly listen to their needs. It’s unlikely they are being awkward, it’s more likely they are trying to ‘make it work’.
Keeping it real and transparent is critical during the entire pitching process. This is particularly true at the beginning. An agency will often ask why you are pitching – tell them openly and honestly what the reason is. This knowledge ‘should’ provide a razor-sharp response. With distance measures in place, it’s hard to see team chemistry or body language, so if you have a question or request then make it. If there is a team member that annoys you, or you feel like they aren’t listening – raise it with compassion and empathy.
TIP: Jot down things that crop up that may annoy you or frustrate you. Discuss as a team whether they are share issues and consider the impact of raising them clearly and kindly with agency.
So you’ve made it to the end – here’s the half:
5½. GOOD COMES FROM ADVERSITY
Some/most of these (1-5) have been as direct result of an overnight shift from face-to-face pitching, but in truth all of them are positive impacts on the process. Who doesn’t want a more focused, low impact, successful pitch process with a partnership that starts with a positive and transparent dialogue? Flock do.
For more information, don’t hesitate to contact us at Flock by filling out the form below. We’ll be in touch!