How to run a virtual agency pitch

“But what happens to pitches...?” 

This has been the most frequent (maybe the only) question we have been asked in recent weeks, by agencies, advertisers, trade bodies and journalists alike. 

This indicates (for right or wrong) what a lifeblood new business pitches are to the media and creative agencies around the world. Hence we felt the need to get a sense of agencies’ current sentiments towards pitching during the pandemic. 

As one of the world’s leading advisors to advertisers on agency management, ID Comms wants to be sensitive in our advice to marketers about pitching agencies in the current business climate. 

Typically the decision to activate an agency pitch isn’t a decision that is taken in isolation, it is usually part of larger changes in the marketing organization or marketing approach. So when the pitch happens it is part of a bigger timeline of change and cannot necessarily be delayed a year. 

For those advertisers considering how to pitch agencies in 2020, it is important to adapt timelines and workloads with sensitivity to what is realistic for competing agencies to manage. 

Below you will find some resources that can help guide your decision making plus some tips of how to manage processes effectively during enforced remote working. 

ID Comms CEO survey question 2


Key finding from ID Comms CEO survey:

  • 69% of respondents say that pitches they have been working on have been delayed, postponed or cancelled because of covid-19; 
  • The industry is “open for business” as 58% of agency leaders confirm they are confident of responding to most pitch briefs despite remote working; 
  • 16% of respondents think that the agency pitch process needs to be re-thought in the current climate; 
  • Agencies’ criteria for participating in pitches hasn’t changed, except they would like to see more of an emphasis on the human factors of pitch management and delivery. Client values such as tolerance, empathy and fairness matter now, more than ever; 
  • ID Comms has prepared guidelines for advertisers on how to manage or prepare for a pitch in 2020. This can be downloaded here;
  • Advertisers choosing to delay pitches in H1 should use the added time to make better preparations and perhaps conduct further internal diagnostics to define a clear role for the agency and set KPIs

    ID Comms CEO survey question 1-2


Watch more about managing a media agency pitches

Reviewing your media account in 2020

Plan with sensitivity to timelines and resources

Agencies are amazingly agile and resilient and agency CEOs are working incredibly hard right now to provide their clients with the strategic advice and support they need. The findings of this latest ID Comms CEO survey show how agencies are embracing business as usual via remote working. However, advertisers must be sensitive to the new reality and those who need to review agencies must adapt their processes to get the best out of agencies. We have prepared guidelines for those advertisers currently pitching or planning an agency pitch in 2020; explaining how to adapt the process for remote working. 

One thing is clear, advertisers should not look to exploit agency desperation with a pitch to drastically cut costs or extend payment terms in the current climate.

For more help planning your pitch in 2020, see ID Comms full pitch planning toolkit.

ID Comms COVID19 Pitch Perspective

ID Comms Guidance for advertisers pitching during COVID-19 

This policy is designed to help advertisers who are in the middle of an agency pitch or planning one for 2020, to make decisions regarding the possible impact of COVID-19.