CMO Network 2/16/2015 @ 4:56PM 5,318 views
Actually, they are more like “white lies”, fibs, half-truths and embellishments.
During the pitch process, agencies need to sell themselves, which can result in overstating their capabilities. These statements are neither malicious nor thoughtless, but they do create unrealistic expectations of the winner after the pitch.
This is a list of promises that agencies commonly make that clients should be wary of:
1. “Our Creative Director will personally work on your business.” Don’t assume that because the creative director spends a lot of time with you during the pitch they’ll spend a lot of time on the account once it is won. In fact, that’s what they spend most of their time doing – working on pitches.
2. “Your account will be our agency’s No.1 priority.” They say it to all the clients.
3. “This is your team.” Sometimes, but not always. Some agencies practice what is known as the old “bait and switch” ploy. The best, most articulate agency people are presented as the pitch team during the process, only to disappear once the agency has been appointed, replaced by a lesser caliber of individuals.
4. “We can do everything for you.” Agencies will always say that they can do everything, but, in fact, they often times cannot. They will especially try to talk up digital. At the age of specialization, the likelihood that one agency can address all the client’s needs is a stretch. Agencies resort to outsourcing many capabilities, while pretending to be able to do it all.
5. “We (almost) never pitch.” Agencies like to pretend that they are so successful that they don’t chase new business, and implied in that statement is that your account is “special” and meaningful to them. However, most agencies chase every prospect indiscriminately and impulsively, often at the expense of diverted attention from existing clients, because they need the income.
6. “We have a unique process.” All agencies have pretty much the same process despite of what they say. They may call it by different names but that is simply window dressing. Their tools and approach is fairly similar. What really separates agencies is their culture. Some agencies are more collaborative, some are more disruptive and some are more courageous.
7. “We are more creative because we win a lot of awards.” Everybody wins awards. There are so many award shows that winning awards is as easy as ordering a corn beef sandwich in a deli. Awards matter up to a point, but the agency team matters more. A great team in a mediocre agency that does not win many awards is better than a mediocre team in a hot, award-winning agency.
8. “We play nice in the sandbox.” Most of the time the various agencies – digital, media, creative – don’t like each other and have no idea what each other is doing. There are some advertising shops that work well with clients’ partner agencies, but if given the choice, most would prefer to develop campaigns without input from others.
9. “Our case studies are amazingly successful.” Like in the fictitious Lake Wobegon in “A Prairie Home Companion” radio show, “where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average”, all case studies that an agency shares with the client are compelling and the results are great. In truth, only about 20% of case histories on average are successful. The client never sees the 80% that the agency doesn’t want them to see.
Agencies lose 10% of their income on average every year due to attrition. Some of this loss can be chalked up to clients leaving the agency, and some to reduced investment by roster clients. This pressure is compounded by the demands of the holding companies for high margins. That makes winning new business a matter of survival. Which sometimes leads to embellishing a little during the pitch.
Hopefully agencies meet client expectations, campaigns launch as promised, and they produce the desired results. However, in some cases they just do not live up to the claims they made during the pitch, and more often than not, this is because they made promises they could never really keep.