As an agency that's been around for over a decade, we've been involved in our fair share of pitches. In that time, we've seen a lot of pitch processes that didn't run smoothly, or didn't help the client as much as they should have.
With that in mind, here are 8 tips to help your business run a pitch process to help you pick the right agency:
It might be tempting to send out your brief to 10 agencies but this will make it hard for you to narrow down your choice (10 proposals will take time to get through!).
Instead, meet with as many agencies as you can informally to discuss your requirements at a high level. Find out:
Get a feel for who might be best placed to collaborate with you on your project and then ask no more than 3-4 of them to pitch to you. Based on your meetings with them all, you should be willing to work with every agency that receives your brief.
Good agencies are often looking at several options in terms of projects to pitch for. With that in mind, try to emphasise what agencies can get out of working with you. At Webcredible, we look for the 'three Fs':
Ideally you want all the agencies to send in the best possible proposal, and they can only do this with your support. Invite each agency into your offices to discuss the brief with you, meet your team and answer any questions they have.
Whatever you do, don't insist that all questions are sent through by email and then share your answers with all agencies – questions answered over email rarely paint the full picture and it's unfair to share the answers with agencies that didn't ask sensible questions.
Give agencies enough time to put together a good pitch for you. If you only give them 3 working days, with the project set to start 2 days after that, chances are you won't get very good quality pitches.
Additionally, the winning agency in this example would likely be unable to resource the most appropriate team to work with you at such short notice, and may even bring in freelancers.
Try to emphasise what agencies can get out of working with you.
You may think if you tell everyone what your budget is, all the proposals you receive will try to charge that amount. The truth is there's never a one-size-fits-all solution, and most agencies will be able to scale their services to match your needs and budget.
If you don't tell potential candidate agencies what your budget is, you risk wasting everyone's time as they may provide plans well outside what you can spend.
Brands often don't do this, but it's actually a good way to help agencies work out their USPs (at least ahead of the other agencies), making it easier for you to decide and distinguish between them.
Let the agencies know about the potential for ongoing work. This may be a key factor in decision-making for many agencies, when they decide whether or not to pitch for your work.
Last but not least, be sure to get a feel for the different cultures and working styles of each agency you're considering. You should be able to do this if you interact with your agencies throughout the process and it'll help you figure out if you'll have a strong working relationship together.
Overall, just make sure you're open and honest with the agencies and support them through the pitching process and directly communicate as much as possible with them. That's the ultimate key to running a smooth agency pitch process. The smoother the process, the more likely you are to choose the best agency for you.