In the final phases of an agency search for one of the nation’s largest credit unions and once again, I was amazed.

I had an opportunity just this past week to sit through three pitch presentations from three agencies that all met the criteria of what we were looking for to support his client’s business.

The agencies darn well should have met the criteria!

I personally reviewed close to 200 agency websites, pushed pre-qualifying questions out to about 50 of them, interviewed about 20 of them, pushed out RFIs to 7 of them, and then selected 3 of them to present their take on this client’s challenge.

Each agency was given the same challenge document outlining the expectations for the presentation.

Each agency had an opportunity to speak directly with the client to ask questions about their business.  And each agency had ready access to me to clarify issues/questions as they approached the final presentation day.

So one would think these three very aptly qualified agencies would come to the table in at least somewhat the same way – maybe with different points of view.

Well…as much as I suspect that this will happen during each and every final pitch presentation, it never seems to come true.

Marketing Agencies

And that’s a good thing…because how they present, how they manage their presentation, and what they present always tells unique little stories about the agency’s style, personality, and approach to potentially running your business.

Two of the three agencies took a very personal approach.

Mostly sat down during the presentation, engaged in dialogue, took the time upfront to introduce themselves and learn about the attendees from the client’s company.

One of the two was very specific about how they would address this client’s issue.  The other a bit more general, but painted a broader stroke view of where they saw the industry and how that could affect the client both today and in the future.

Both very interesting approaches.  Both rated very high in the eyes of all of the attendees.  Both are now in a final stage of due diligence to determine which will ultimately win the prize.

Then there was the third agency.

They didn’t follow the rules.  They didn’t introduce themselves.  They stood, making them seem less personal and engaged.  The principal did most of the talking, which made one wonder “is this really a team”?

And they did a horrible job of staying on time – to the point where I had to cut them off before they could even get to the meat of the presentation – the part about the client.

So much upfront about them left us wondering…did they get a different brief?

So it’s pitches like these that are exciting and fascinating.  And it’s pitches like these that make me wonder what some agencies think about (if they do think) before they walk in the door.

So if you run a pitch and you run it well, you can align all the stars in the world from an experience and expertise standpoint, but when it comes to pitch time, it’s only then that the true colors of an agency present themselves.

So don’t get too enamored with an agency before the pitch.

The “horrible” agency was the one that I felt was most likely to walk in the door and really blow the client away.  So much for my gambling prowess.

You can see all the things on the outside as clearly as they appear…but what lies underneath in some respects is what’s as important.  Some agencies don’t like pitches.  They don’t think they’re fair because you’re boiling it all down to an hour and a half.

Well that’s you and everyone step up and do a great job!