Run a pitch like a BOSS Roberto Ciarleglio - Managing Director by Roberto Ciarleglio, Managing Director

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Are you planning a new project or series of projects? Need a new agency? You’ll probably be running a pitch…in that case, here is our guide to running the perfect pitch.

The general process:

A well-run pitch will start with a Request for Information (RFI). You should send this to no more than ten agencies. Why? Because combing through responses takes time. Next stage is your Request for Proposal (RFP). In between sending that out, and having agencies in to pitch for you, you could consider mid-way meetings or ‘tissue sessions’. Ahead of the tissue sessions, agencies may ask for Q&A opportunities. The more contact-time and clarity you can provide throughout the pitch process, the more you’ll get back in terms of solid, on-brief responses. When the process is over, be prepared to give honest feedback to all pitch participants. They deserve it and will be able to evolve from it.

Top ten tips:

  1. When compiling your initial list of recipients for your RFI, go for recommendations first; word of mouth/via your own network. Next look for agencies with relevant experience. Don’t ask your incumbent if they really have no chance!
  2. When making your ‘first cut’ consider using a scoring matrix that you share in your RFI. It makes selection easier (you’ll be more likely to get ten ‘like for like’ responses). Next, get your list of pitching agencies down to no more than five.
  3. Make clear to agencies what everyone on your side’s roles and responsibilities will be on the project. Nominate an overall ‘Project Owner’ at your end – it really, really helps!
  4. Expect good agencies to interrogate your RFP and ask for relevant research, etc. Make time for all that.
  5. Consider a User-Centred Design (UCD) approach to your solution. Happy users help achieve your own business objectives and following a UCD process can produce results that strengthen the relationship between your brand/organisation and your users/customers.
  6. Include KPIs for the project in your RFP. What will success look like and how will a project’s success be measured?
  7. As mentioned above – time allows, hold ‘tissue sessions’ (to hear where the agencies are mid-pitch, to guide & bring clarity). Ditch any agency way off course at this stage if you have to.
  8. Time: give agencies enough time to answer your RFP. Give your internal team enough time to assess each stage of a pitch. Don’t see too many agencies on the same day.
  9. Be upfront about your budget range. A simple analogy: you want a car. Well, is it a Mini or Rolls Royce?
  10. Beware ‘yes men’ who promise it all…especially if other agencies are shaking their heads. Listen to agencies when they say something can’t be realised for the time or budget you’ve allowed in your RFP. You want an agency with integrity…who can deliver what they outline at the pitch stage. Be prepared to make compromises…the most obvious being a phased approach.

In conclusion:

This is definitely a process through which you ‘reap what you sow’. Give your pitching agencies the time, space and support they’ll need, and you should be rewarded with some brilliant ideas/solutions in return!

Roberto Ciarleglio - Managing Director by Roberto Ciarleglio, Managing Director
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