This is an old post that I never published from about 5 months ago when I was working client side. There is no massive insight in there, but I thought I might as well share it.
I've been asked by a journalist some questions about agency pitching, specifically design agency pitching, for an article he is writing. In the spirit of sharing and discussion here are my thoughts; as I said - I was primarily thinking about design agencies, though I do sometimes deviate from this specific focus.
1. Pitches are a good idea even when it comes to design agencies. I find it impossible to know if an agency will be able to work on a particular brand until I've seen them try. Portfolio's are fine, but in reality recommendations are more important, or stand-out work seen in the market place, or, even better - both.
2. Creds, on the whole, are boring. If you want to make them interesting then use them as a way of getting across point-of-view. Something thought provoking. Otherwise keep them very short.
3. Broadly speaking what clients want at a pitch is pretty simple. Well it's simple to say, hard to do. We want creatively exciting and interesting work, that is strategically robust, and that is ON BRIEF. It's crucial that agencies appear interested and motivated to be working with the brand in question (if you're not then think very carefully before pitching, it will show if you're not into it). It is also important that it is clarified who will be working on the business, and how much it is all going to cost.
4. The most common mistakes made by agencies are due to not asking some pretty basic questions; who are we talking to? What are their expectations? What will demonstrate we've really understood the brief? What can we do to show we've gone the extra mile? What's going to make this an enjoyable meeting for everyone? Who needs to be there from our side? Does everything have to be done on Powerpoint? What is the one thing we want them to remember and do, and how can we best make this happen?
5. The best presentation I've ever been in? W+K pitching for the Yakult business. Nothing spectacular, just a continuous unshakable feeling that these people understood the brand and the task in hand. This was best captured in the book they put together. Not a book of ads, but a book that was designed to help us see what Yakult should look and feel like. A book that brought the brand alive - so we could see it and experience it. The presentation of this involved simply reading through the book together, and demonstrated what the book represented - a collaborative understanding between agency and client.
6. Most agencies have their own style to pitching, and that's a good thing. There are no rights and wrongs, that work in all situations for all people. Be yourselves and try to do the best work you can on brands you're interested in. Assume the client wants to work with you and involve them all you can (not always easy I know).