With more than 17,000 marketing agencies in the UK market alone, clients really are spoilt for choice. Thankfully we’re not all competing for the same piece of the pie but now more than ever agencies have to evaluate where they rank amongst the competition.
When it comes to pitching this is particularly difficult to assess, since we never get to see our competitors in action (oh, for that glimpse). So how do we get a view on whether we’re the best in the business, or hopelessly lagging behind the competition?
As professionals we’re always looking to improve – whether this is improving the creative product itself, our individual professional development, the agency-client relationship or the work of the teams we manage. But the thought of analysing how we faired on a recent pitch (win or lose) and addressing the areas for improvement fills us with dread. Why is this? Surely we want to win more often?
Putting yourself forward for a pitch requires courage. From an individual’s point of view a pitch is so much more than a business opportunity: It’s an added commitment in an already busy job; it comes with high exposure and a rare opportunity to demonstrate your skills beyond the day-to-day; and it’s an emotional commitment as much as a time one. It can (almost literally) become your life for eight weeks.
So it’s hardly surprising that come the end of this rollercoaster, we’re reluctant to put ourselves through a critique of our actions and decisions. But of course, that’s what we must do. Post-pitch analysis may be painful but will, without doubt, guarantee improvement – as individuals, as a pitch team and as an agency generally. It hurts. There’s no denying it. We don’t want to hear criticism or experience rejection. But we learn from this negative feedback, arguably more than we do the positive. So embrace post-pitch analysis and reap the rewards.
Some tips to getting insightful post-pitch feedback:
- Ask the client to agree to it before the pitch, whatever the result. It is much easier to ask for that time if it’s already been agreed in principle.
- Ask a third party to carry it out – this doesn’t have to be someone external to the agency, just someone outside the pitch team. The client will find it easier to give truly honest feedback to someone they don’t have a relationship with.
- Ask the same questions after each pitch. That way you’ll begin to see consistent themes (good and bad) and be able to compare pitch with pitch, even though they are intrinsically different.
- Ask for feedback from the pitch team as well as the client(s). As much can be learnt from within the agency as it can outside.
Analyse the results. Once you’ve got that data, it’s as important that it is analysed to reveal the insights. Don’t just make it a form that is filled in and filed away.