by Johanna McDowell (@jomcdowell) Whether you are calling a pitch to replace an agency already on your roster, or to add new capabilities, it is only natural to be focused on finding the best agency for the job. However, during that, it is easy to forget the impact that a pitch process may have on your team, your other agencies, and the work that needs to continue while the pitch process carries on.

Seven aspects

Here are seven aspects to consider before you call for the pitch:

  1. Talk to your incumbent agency. You need them to remain motivated and working for you as normal during the pitch process. You need a good handover arrangement if a new agency is appointed and you want to avoid holding back work for when a new agency starts, as then the new agency will be swamped when it takes over.
  2. Make sure your team knows what is going to happen, why you called the pitch, what the process is and how long it will take. Team members also need to know what they should say if they are called by the media or if any of the other agencies on the roster approach them as they want to increase their remit. Keep your team updated throughout the process.
  3. Keep the rest of the business informed. You should brief anyone who might be affected by the hiring of a new agency. This is also a great opportunity to align agendas within the business eg working more closely with IT department and ensuring the digital aspects are taken care of in marketing.
  4. Tell the rest of your agencies on your roster what is happening. This should be done by the client lead either face-to-face or by telephone (rather than email). This will allay any fears that they may have that you are planning a full roster-wide review and also give them chance to start thinking about how they will work with a new agency.
  5. Plan your PR strategy: make sure that your media team has been fully briefed and understands the reasons for the pitch process.
  6. Plan for your senior staff to be involved in the pitch process: think about the possible disruptions in your department’s work while they are in pitch meetings etc.
  7. Plan your department’s workload for the first 6–12 months of the new agency’s contract. The new agency onboarding will be disruptive to the normal business processes that your department has — it is unavoidable — but, for the new agency to be successful, it will be key for them to have much more time than has been usual with your team as the agency is unfamiliar with your working processes.

If all of the above can be done before the pitch process starts, not only will things run more smoothly, you will find that it is easier to assess the pitching agencies in the context of your overall approach and your roster, which should lead to better results in the longer term.

My next column will look at some things for marketers to think about when appointing the new agency.


Johanna McDowellJohanna McDowell (@jomcdowell) is managing director of the Independent Agency Search and Selection Company (IAS), which is partnered with the AAR Group in the UK. Johanna is one of the few experts driving this mediation and advisory service in SA and globally. Currently she is running the IAS Marketers Masterclass, a programme consisting of masterclasses held in Cape Town and in Johannesburg. Twice a year she attends AdForum Worldwide Summits.

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