It has become commonplace for clients to solicit solutions-based (IP) pitches when seeking new agency partners. This has a severe impact on agency financials, staff well-being, and in environmental costs associated with unnecessary and unproductive work.
We think there is a better way.
The following is the Comms Council's guidance for good pitching practice. We have observed a number of clients embracing the approach outlined below, with positive feedback with outcomes on par, or better, than the traditional full-blown pitch, without the negative impact of IP-based pitching. We encourage any clients seeking to find a new agency partner to consider the questions below before committing to a process.
Any clients seeking to discuss the recommendations below are encouraged to contact our CEO, Simon Lendrum, for a confidential conversation.
Ideally, at this stage, you will have gained an understanding of the agencies' competencies, their relevant experience, and which of your shortlisted agencies gives you most confidence.
However, there may be circumstances that require you to seek creative or strategic recommendations to your problem. In other words, you want the agencies to propose the actual solution to your problem in order to choose a provider. This is a request for Intellectual Property. In this case, be aware of the following:
If, taking all this on board, you feel that you need to ask for IP-based pitching (perhaps the solution is time-critical, or your procurement team insist on it, or your business is risk averse and considers this stage appropriate risk mitigation) then we strongly urge you to remunerate agencies for participation. While this remuneration might not quite be full market rate (though if it is, you have the option to ask for transfer of IP from participating agencies), it should be more than token.
Our belief is that only by paying for IP-based responses can you expect great outcomes. You have already confirmed in stage 1, above, that the pitch is necessary (and therefore of material benefit to your business). Sustainable pitching, where agencies can put their best resource on the task, without opportunity cost, and without potential for cost to their staff, is only possible when the work that is delivered is valued by the client. Ultimately, the best demonstration that you value an agency's output is that you are willing to pay for it.