A client expects agencies to put some effort in and show that they are passionate about the brand

Two weeks ago I mentioned that I was going to pitch for my main creative agency. For two years I have resisted what most new marketing directors do on arriving in the role but now the time is right.

I decided to look at 10 agencies – five that we had never worked with before and five that have done work for us in the past – initially in a ‘chemistry meeting’, with the goal to down-select to four, formally pitching to us in the New Year (letting them have Christmas off!).

However I was somewhat surprised by the agencies’ response. While we had positioned the conversations as informal, I had expected each to have done some pre-work – mine is quite a sizeable piece of business, with a good name to add to the client list.

Only one of the ten asked for a chat in advance to better understand the culture of our business and find out more about the brief. Few had even done the basics such as looking my colleague and I up on LinkedIn. And in the meetings, less than half the agencies prepared a slide deck of their creds – the others took us at our word – with a chat without an agenda. Most demonstrated poor time management, running out of time for their allotted time slot. And in most cases, one person in the team, usually the most senior, dominated the conversation when we really wanted to hear from the people we would be working with.

It got worse, of the five who did use presentations, three of them had very visible typos on their slides. One even had our brand on their client list, and got very embarrassed when we questioned it.

Now come on guys. This is a highly competitive market. First impressions count. While this was merely a ‘chemistry meeting’, a client does expect you to put some effort in and show that you are passionate about their brand, are strategic, understand the business and can convince them that they can trust you to deliver.

One thing I can say, is that the quality of cakes, pastries and sandwiches was high across every agency. We clearly know where the emphasis lies (and who in the agency does the work).

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