Some Sage Words From The 4A’s On Advertising Agency Pitching
Here is an interview on advertising agency pitching I did with Tom Finneran, EVP, Agency Management Services at the 4A’s. It’s one of many expert interviews in my book on advertising agency pitching. It comes from the perspective of the 4A’s, its work with hundreds of agencies, and with the ANA – the Association of National Advertisers.
By the way, I am updating the book. Stay tuned. Oh, why update it? Well, let’s just use one newish thing that has revolutionized pitching (to put it mildly) — virtual pitching.
I thought I’d add this interview to my blog for a few reasons. Some to help you and one big one for me.
- Your agency’s pitch batting average will increase if you have a solid, smart, consistent pitch system.
- You will win more pitches if you put yourself in the client’s shoes.
- You should be aware of the 4A’s and ANA agency search guidelines. If fact, share this with the clients you pitch. Here’s a link to an Ad Age article on the guidelines.
- You’ll help me because I want you to buy the book. It’s not because I make a lot of bucks from sales (although sales are robust and it is nice to get money from Amazon.) No, I want you to buy the book because many agencies that read the book, see that I actually know what I am talking about, and turn into my consultancy’s business development clients. Duh coming: Books help make people and even agencies look and sound like experts.
On To The 4A’s Interview That Will Help You Win More Pitches
Warning. This is a long interview. Long as in over 3,000 words. Read it if you want to win more new business.
Tom Finneran: EVP, Agency Management Services – The 4A’s
Tom Finneran leads the 4A’s Agency Management Services team, which provides industry guidance, member consultation, and benchmark information in the areas of new business, agency compensation, agency management, and operations.
Tom’s career includes extensive ad agency and advertiser financial management experience. He was executive Vice president/CFO at Jordan McGrath Case & Partners and Arnold McGrath Worldwide, a unit of Havas. He was also Executive Vice President/COO at Grey’s promotional unit, J. Brown/LMC.
PL: While there’s no one-size-fits-all pitch process, do you think that clients are running more professional pitches today than in the past?
Tom: What we consistently hear is that reviews have become less professional and efficient than in the past. This is important because, to a degree clients have taken in-house some of the review practices that have traditionally been managed by industry consultants who were more adept at running professional pitches.
In terms of the efficiency of reviews, some of the things that are less efficient than they should be are cattle calls. You’ll have clients who are not experienced at doing reviews, and they’ll send information requests to far more agencies than should be included in the initial list.
Some of the other inefficient processes are what I would refer to as RFPs from hell. Here is one example. About a year and a half ago, one of our members called irate about an RFP that had 300 questions. And I said, “You’ve got to be exaggerating. It couldn’t possibly have been 300 questions.” So the person said, “Wait a minute. Let me look at this.” Then she commented, “Okay. You got me, I exaggerated. It’s 293 questions.” So this was an RFP that a client-sourcing group used. The RFP was geared to soliciting responses from ingredient suppliers, research and development firms, and contractors of all types. And woven into the 293 questions were a few marketing-related questions that were kind of like packed in there.
PL: So are you seeing these kinds of issues primarily with larger clients or also medium-sized to smaller clients?
Tom: These tended to be from marketers who did not have dedicated, knowledgeable marketing procurement folks. They were taking people who could source corrugated materials and chemical components and things of that nature.
PL: Is there an agency size factor? Is it affecting your large and small 4A’s members?
Tom: It affects members both small and large. [Read more…] about 4A’s On Advertising Agency Pitching