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Brands need to get a grip if they are thinking of pitching

Stuart Pocock - Observatory International Stuart Pocock Co-Founder & Network Operations May 12, 2023

Despite what we read about in the trade magazines about the ‘pitch-bubble’ bursting and marketing spend being on the rise, the reality for many agencies is that decent new business is sparse and many clients are freezing or reducing budgets (as WARC data shows) or simply putting stuff ‘on-hold’.

Not unsurprising given the geo-political and economic issues facing the World post-pandemic, and businesses demands for respectable quarterly results.

But as many Clients pursue the need to cut costs and increase efficiencies, not all are doing it well if recent events are anything to go by.

Twice in the last couple of weeks we’ve heard of two sizeable and well-known clients (no name and shame though I’m afraid – but you know who you are) holding sessions with 15+ agencies each to pitch for business – either for speed dating or actually briefing them on work.

Dig deeper and you find it’s a DIY approach with marketing and procurement hitting the digital filing cabinet for who sent in creds most recently or a chat around the virtual water cooler to pool some random thoughts on agencies, because it’s evident that there is no logical thinking going on when lining up contenders.

It’s apparent that some of the more selective (and therefore invariably better) agencies that have been drawn into these farragoes are likely to withdraw – having now seen the bad signs being sent by an unprofessional approach and one which definitely signals that they are not going to be a great client to work for.

But such is the endless agency optimism that there is a real opportunity waiting to be won (despite totally going against the Pitch Positive Pledge being lauded by the industry) far too many agencies will pursue these ‘opportunities’ regardless of the ludicrous odds and that fact that many will be struggling with lack of resource.

So those agencies engaging (unless they actually win) will simply put in time and effort to be rewarded with pain and disappointment.

And the Client will get the agency they deserve and not the work they need.

Like DIY, whilst it can be done on the cheap, if you’re not great at it, you’ll bodge it and will inevitably have to call the professionals in to sort it out down the line.

The difference here is that rather than having a bad kitchen or poorly wall-papered living room that you can live with for a while, it’s the fortunes of your businesses at stake.

And taking this approach will turn out to be rather less of a cost cutting win-win and more of a strategic and reputational lose – lose.

To find out what a well-run pitch looks and feels like take a look at our Agency Search and Onboarding service or contact us.

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