Are Remote Agency Pitches Here To Stay?
The pitches of 2021 are likely to include a strong remote-only element say the ID Comms team.
Remote pitching has been a fact of life for the last two years and brands, agencies and yes pitch consultants have adapted remarkably well. In fact there have been more pitches in 2021 and without exception, they’ve been remote.
But as pandemic restrictions ease and vaccination rollout reaches more people in more markets, it’s time to think about how much of the on-screen element is worth retaining.
Check out the ID Comms best-practice Guide to Running an Effective Agency Pitch
The truth is that there have been some clear advantages from remote-only pitches. Firstly, it’s a more democratic forum so that all agencies and all talent (on both sides) get time on the same screen. There are fewer egos with remote pitching (and everyone who dials in has to take the process seriously and pay attention).
Secondly, it’s a chance for more people to participate from the brand side. That means more people are involved in the selection and there’s less need to sell the final decision to a wide group of stakeholders. We’ve had CMOs and CFOs join our recent sessions.
Thirdly, it’s cheaper to take part. Without the need for pitch theatre, agencies can invest more of their time finding smarter solutions to the brand’s challenges. And without all the travel costs, it’s much more affordable for everyone.
But questions about the need for human contact remain. Much of the remote pitch experience reflects the more distributed way we work now and will increasingly work in the future. But we still think there are three critical touchpoints when it would be good for key players on both sides to meet:
The first time is at the all-agency briefing. This is a great moment for the agency/agencies to take the temperature of the client, to meet on their territory and discover more about the company’s culture.
The second time is at the collaboration meetings, which should ideally take place on the agency’s turf. This should be a moment for the client team to really take a deep dive into what the agency is all about. Rather than simply sitting in a boardroom for a presentation, they should use four or five hours to really explore their potential partner’s ways of working and the ideas that drive the agency.
The final time is during the negotiations. These can take place anywhere but they probably work better face-to-face and allow the process to be concluded more effectively.
One final word of advice for agencies. Time can be short, and agencies have a lot of new business to compete for right now. This can lead them to revert to a script for their online presentations. This is the wrong approach and completely sucks the energy out of their pitch.
The very best remote pitches we’ve seen turn the presentation into more of a discussion and engage the client or prospective client, often via some provocative statements.