12 Advertising Agency Pitch Mistakes
Now that my new book How To Build A Kick-Ass Advertising Agency is on the market (and doing well, thank you – buy it) I thought I’d revisit a core message from my first advertising agency advice book.
The fact is that way too many agencies continue to make avoidable mistakes – especially in the world of Zoom-like meetings.
One of the biggest mistakes is that advertising agency leaders do not recognize the importance of interpersonal chemistry. The agency pitch consultants I interviewed for The Levitan Pitch book all told me that many agency selection decisions are made by the client determining that they LIKE the agency and its people. This is because way too many agencies are kinda look-a-like. OK, and sound alike. Work on YOU, INC.
Here they are… The 12 Advertising Agency Pitch Mistakes
I’ve purposely served the pitching mistakes up as advice, as things to do. Why? As you will see throughout my paperback and eBook, The Levitan Pitch. (especially in the interview section) many advertising agencies, pitch leaders, and team members, make these crazy mistakes. According to the 18 agency search consultants interviewed in the book, these pitch mistakes are made all the time. Agencies make them despite knowing that they will lower their batting average. This is quite baffling.
Here are five of my all-time favorites:
- The agency hasn’t worked at being distinctive. There might even be a fear of being “too” different. Strange, but true.
- The agency hasn’t done a good job of planning the flow of the presentation. They haven’t approached the pitch as theater.
- Agencies often leave their best presenters behind because it is someone else’s turn to go to the pitch. Huh!?
- The agency presents way too many strategic and creative ideas.
- The big one: the agency spends way too much time talking about themselves and not the client. Here is an example from the book:
“Agencies spend far too much time talking about themselves and not enough time addressing the problems of the client. Clients want to hear solutions to their problems, not how great the agency thinks it is. Best advice to agencies – focus on the client, demonstrate real understanding of their issues, unearth commercial as well as consumer insight, keep it simple, and make it memorable!”
C/O Brian Sparks, Managing Director: Agency Assessments International, UK and Ireland…
How did we all get to this not-so-special place? I think that some of the primary issues haven’t been addressed:
- The speed at which agencies start to work as soon as they are invited to pith an account. Rarely do they stop and think through the entire process before all hell breaks loose.
- Most agencies do not have a clear methodology for how they are going to run pitches. It is almost as if they are starting with a blank page every time they are invited to pitch for new business. I recommend a few things to do to manage the pitch including having a standard agency checklist. You can see one in my Pitch Playbook.
- Worse, most agencies don’t even have a master business development plan.
To help resolve this dilemma, I offer my 12 deadliest advertising agency pitch mistakes as counter-intuitive must-dos illustrated by a series of cartoons from my friend Steve Klinetobe.