Did their stories make you think? Did they make you want to change your approach? Are you keen to do less speculative pitch work, drop it altogether? If you are, then we’re right behind you and can help you navigate the common barriers to change, whether you’re an agency or client.
Common perceived barriers
‘Pitching creative can be addictive.’
It’s a combination of the thrill of the chase and the open invitation to ‘show us what you’ve got.’ It’s a heady cocktail. But, you need to get the chase on equal terms. To quote Jonathan Ford, chief creative officer and founder of Pearlfisher, “The simple fact is the more you say ‘no’, the more they will want to work with you on your terms.”
Action: Replace the time you spend creating work in response to pitches with something else. Focus on your presentation style, using your previous creative. Do an audit of your current clients’ competition. Phone one of your current clients and invite them to meet to discuss your findings. Get your team around the table and unpick your recent work. Update your website. Do some work on ‘you’, your business.
‘A client doesn’t want to know what I’ve done for other clients. They want to know what I’m going to do for them.’
Sounds fair, but read between the lines on this one. For ‘know’ read ‘feel comfortable to as great a degree as is reasonable.’ For “what you’re going to do for them,’ read ‘what’s going to happen that will make me feel secure we’ll get the right result?’
Action: Work on your process – think about how you do what you do and how you would describe that to a business. Look at your recent work from every conceivable angle. What problem did it solve? What size of business was it for? Who are their customers? Generate confidence around the processes your business follows.
And for clients
‘I’ve not seen a formal process for selecting a design business so asking them to show me some creative seems the best approach.’
A formal alternate process to free pitching does exist. The DBA has designed a road map for design buyers on how get to the right outcome. It’s been endorsed by ISBA, a key client industry body.
Action: Take a look at the roadmap here. Compare it with your current process. Share it with your colleagues. Look at it away from a live job. If switching to this roadmap involves change then you’ll want to do this when there isn’t a deadline resting on it.
‘I’m not confident of what I’m buying. Having something to show my colleagues gives me confidence’.
You need to be able to justify your decision to use an agency. Getting the best evidence can be seen as the best way to explain your decision.
Action: Ask your agency shortlist for evidence of how they’ve solved the same problem that you have, for other clients. Get them to explain their process and the end results. This constitutes the best evidence because it is what an agency has produced for their clients under comparable circumstances to how they’d be working for you. This gives you something to show colleagues – evidence of their past work and their creative process.
‘It’s the way I buy other things. If I want some furniture or a computer I can try them all out before I buy them.’
The difference is that for a client-agency relationship to truly work well, it will be the result of collaboration. You bring your perspective and expertise. Your selected design partner brings theirs. The end result of the creative process is delivered when an agency has taken time getting to know you and will inevitably involve you in the process.
Action: Seek to understand the chemistry element of your decision. What is the culture of your business and what agency relationships have worked best for you? How would you describe them? That’s your criteria for assessing the agency’s potential to be a great collaborator in the future. The chemistry element of the meeting is to see ‘do we get on?’, ‘do they understand us?’, ‘do we ultimately share the same purpose as businesses?’
Break through the barriers and set your business 30 days to start kicking the free pitching habit. We’d love to hear from you if you decide to do so.