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If you want lots of agencies to compete for your business then you need to understand what motivates them. We outline the key four questions they ask when they get an invitation to participate in a new business process.
CMOs need to understand one thing: The rules of the game have changed and agencies won’t pitch for any old piece of business. Post Covid, in the middle of a talent crisis, they have become much more discerning about whether they put in all that effort to fight for your account.
When we talk to advertisers, we explain that they need to understand the psychology of agency leadership teams if they want to get on the path to a successful, competitive pitch.
The key is understanding the four key questions that agencies ask themselves when they hear that your business is up for grabs. Understand these questions and advertisers are better positioned to present themselves in the most attractive way possible and ensure that agencies bring their very best to the pitch.
The first question they ask is: Do we want to win? The answer is likely to be affected by your reputation as a client because not all advertisers have great reputations. It’s also likely to be affected by your business prospects, are you on a growth trajectory or managing decline? The latter definitely makes you less attractive. And they also have to consider if they have issues around capacity, competitive considerations and talent.
The second question they ask is: Is this winnable? They want to know if it’s a serious pitch. If they are the incumbent, then they will be thinking about their current relationship with you and if they are not incumbent, they will want to know that it’s not just a tyre-kicking exercise and there are genuine reasons to pitch. If it’s just about reducing prices or testing the incumbent, then rivals might not want to play along.
The third question they ask is: Can we win? This means having a clear scope of work, so they can see if they have the geographic coverage, the right skillsets and the experience in your category that you are looking for. Getting the right answer to this question means providing a really clear scope of work that allows them to compare your needs with their resource and expertise base.
The final question they ask is: How do we win? An agency will want to be able to break down what the criteria are for winning. They want to know where they need to shine to be successful and who are the key decision makers. Transparency on this part of the process, combined with a clear timing plan, helps them identify how best to stand out but also reassures them that it’s a professional process where they will be treated with respect.
The goal for any advertiser is to get as many agencies as possible to take part in their pitch. Behave in a way that generates the right answers to those questions and you get the competitive tensions in your pitch that showcase the very best of the agency world.
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