I've been consulting for a couple of companies running agency pitches recently. After reviewing myriad RFP submissions, it seems clear that a lot of agencies aren't thinking through what will make them stand out and seem desirable as partners. In fact, most agencies do exactly the same bad things. The result is a pile of non-distinctive presentations and pitches -- a mishmash of words and pictures that has all of the bite of watery polenta.
Here are seven common ways that agencies miss the mark in the pitch process, and some ideas on how to avoid these problems in your future efforts.
It's all about you
When brands ask agencies to pitch, they want to know something about the company and how it is different or right for the brand. However, many agencies spend more than a dozen slides and half their meeting time droning on about their history, capabilities, and founders instead of focusing their story on the business needs of the client and why they are the perfect fit.
Clients don't hire agencies because they have interesting founder stories. U.S. domestic brands don't want to know about your global network and the office in Dushanbe, Tadjikistan. As you formulate your "about us" section, think about the six Cs:
Critical mass-- Show that you are big enough to serve the brand or that the brand is big enough to warrant your best people and attention.
Capabilities -- Assert and demonstrate that you have the capabilities necessary to serve the account.
Category expertise -- Show that you understand the business. You can do this through past experience, analogous experience, research, and astute knowledge of what's happening in the brand's business sector.
Concern -- Develop powerful ways of conveying your passion for the brand's business and challenges. For example, when you are the brand marketer for mayonnaise, spreads are very important to you. Show that potential client that you care just as deeply about condiments. And don't just say it, show it.
Character -- Exhibit the "fit" between the agency and how it works to the unique characteristics of the company. Why are our people going to mesh? Why is your approach and style what the company needs?
Crew -- Show your potential client who will be working on the business, and demonstrate that client's worth by making them the center of your pitch team and presentation.
Prospects need to know what unique aspects of your concern make you a great fit for them.