3 steps to managing an agency pitch and selection process

by Trenton Moss on 11 January 2016

In my last blog, I went through a few tips to help your business run an effective agency pitching and selection process. I'm now going to go through the actual selection process in a bit more detail, helping you choose the best possible agency for you.

Step 1: Construct the brief and shortlist agencies

Take the time to speak with agencies before launching the actual pitching process. You'll often have a specific solution or project in mind when you begin to put together your brief, but it's worth speaking with a few agencies beforehand to get their opinions on the best way to solve your problem.

Often brands are too close to their own product or service, and don't always consider all available options when they construct their briefs. By speaking with agencies beforehand, you can get some initial rough ideas on ways to tackle a project, and they can help you shape your brief. This will also help you answer a number of questions:

  • How important will you be as a client to each agency? Will you be treated as a priority?
  • What initial ideas does each agency have regarding the right approach for you?
  • What relevant experience do they have?
  • Do they understand your requirements?
  • How much are they likely to charge?

All of these will help you to construct a strong brief, and pick the right agencies to pitch for you.

Often brands are too close to their own product or service, and don't always consider all available options when they construct their briefs.

Step 2: Send out the brief

Once you've sent out the brief, try to support participating agencies as much as possible. As an agency, it's frustrating to have questions around a brief, and receive an out-of-office email from a potential client saying they're out on holiday until the date of the pitch! The more you help agencies by providing the right information around your business, the stronger their pitches will be.

If you can, try not to have an old-fashioned procurement process where answers to each agencies' questions are sent over email and shared with all of the competing agencies. The point of the pitching process is to help you select the right agency, and you should reward those asking intelligent questions!

Step 3: Onboard the agency and keep the relationship going

Once you've decided which agency to go with, it's important to start the relationship on the right foot. With that in mind:

  1. Don't negotiate hard on price as pushing an agency's rates down as much as possible may start the relationship off on a negative, win-or-lose mindset, and reduce or eliminate their profit margins. In the long-run, the agency may not treat you as a priority if your account has the smallest profit margin. Instead, push for value as it's a more positive approach and will provide a strong impetus for the agency to work hard to provide you with the best possible deliverables.
  2. Aim for a relationship focused on collaboration and respect. Try to treat your agency as equal partners, rather than subordinates so you can both get the most out of working together.
  3. Provide mutual feedback at regular intervals, so you can both learn to adapt your working styles and processes to get the best possible result.
  4. Pay your agency on time. Not paying your agency on time can cause delays; having them chase you up wastes time that could instead be used to productively add value to you as a business.

Finally, remember that agencies aren't a silver bullet. They won't come in and solve all of your business' issues in a short period of time. Provide as much time and support as the agency needs and try and keep some budget available to deal with future scope creep.


Stuart Johnston says 06:25am 11 Jan 2016

Thank you

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