We have built our business by having great relationships with great clients. In fact, the importance we place on having good client relationships inspired our name – Chemistry. While we are often admired for our strong creative work, this could not be achieved without trusted partnerships with our clients.
We always love a new challenge and always welcome opportunities to work with new clients. However, we believe the traditional pitch process is fundamentally flawed as it does not reflect the real world where the best work comes from trusted relationships and true collaboration. So, if you are looking for a new agency partner, we propose an alternative process as follows:
Stage 1: Market review
Client researches the market to produce a short-list of non-conflicted prospective agencies based on criteria such as agency skillsets, capacity, relevant experience etc. This stage would be completed without any agency involvement – clients could complete by desk research on agency websites.
Stage 2: Agency credentials
Client visits the short-listed agencies for short (about an hour) credentials presentations. Clients can indicate the types of case studies that they would like to hear more about, either by objective (awareness, behaviour change etc.) or by client, if there is a client or campaigns that are felt to be relevant. The purpose of this stage is for clients to meet the agency team, get an understanding of the thinking behind some of the agency’s campaigns and get a feel for the culture of the agency. This is also the stage to begin addressing any specific requirements around the scope of work.
Stage 3: Cultural fit and ability to work together
By now the client should have been able to whittle down the number of agencies to a small, manageable number. The third stage requires the client to commit a few hours to meet each agency in a simulated working environment, so clients are unlikely to want to do so for more than 2 or 3 agencies. At this stage, it’s up to agencies to present themselves as they see fit. While the idea is to simulate the agency and client working relationship, with the people who would actually work together day-to-day from client and agency attending, the agency should not be responding to a client brief. At Chemistry, we often offer a strategic view of the market or category in which the client operates as a means of demonstrating our thinking at this stage. We have often also found it extremely useful to use this time to run a ‘workshop’ with the prospective client to tease out issues and, again, demonstrate what working with us would be like.
Stage 4: Decision
Most senior marketers will know enough to make a decision by now, and will move to contract discussions and negotiations with the preferred agency. At Chemistry, much of the best, most effective work we have done and many of our strongest, most successful relationships have followed a similar process to this. One of the main advantages we find is that, having replicated a real working process, the agency-client relationship has already been ‘road-tested’ and, as a result, is much more productive much earlier.
Stage 5: Discretionary creative stage
However, we understand that some clients will simply be unable to appoint an agency without seeing some bespoke strategic thinking and, possibly, creative work to a brief that they have provided. While that is understandable and acceptable, we ask clients to treat this stage as if it were already a commercial relationship. From both agency and client point of view, the fewer agencies involved at this stage the better (it’s unlikely to be more than 2 but may be just one agency, as a ‘trial run’). This will enable clients to disclose all the information the agency needs, to make time available so that we can understand the client’s working environment better and to allow for at least the start of a building up of trust. We also ask for a pitch fee. The pitch fee will not come anywhere near the value of time we will spend by pitching but it should acknowledge that our time has a value and go some way towards defraying some of the third party costs we will need to spend.
If you are interested in working with us, please contact:
Ray Sheerin or Dee Gunning
T: +353 1 498 8800