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 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:
Stage 1: Market review
Client researches the market to produce a short-list of prospective agencies based on criteria such as agency skillsets, capacity, relevant experience etc. This stage can be completed 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 suggest beforehand the types of case studies that they would like to hear more about, either by objective (awareness, behaviour change etc.) or by client.
The purpose of this stage is for clients to meet the agency team, gain an understanding of the thinking behind some of the agency’s campaigns and get a feel for the culture. This is also the stage to begin addressing any specific requirements around the scope of work.
Stage 3: Ability to work together.
By now, the client will have been able to whittle down the 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.
At this stage, it is 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
By this stage, prospective clients should have enough information to make a decision and will move to contract discussions and negotiations with the preferred agency.
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, 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 is unlikely to be more than two 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 the start of a building up of trust. We also ask for a pitch fee.
The pitch fee acknowledges that our time has value and goes a little way towards defraying some of the third party costs we will need to spend.
At Chemistry, one of the main advantages we find to this approach is having replicated a real working process, the agency-client relationship has already been ‘road-tested’ and, as a result, is a lot more productive much earlier.
Much of our best and most effective work and many of our strongest, most successful relationships have followed a similar process.
If you are interested in working with us, please contact:
Ray Sheerin or Dee Gunning
T: +353 1 498 8800