This is a story about a recent final pitch presentation I oversaw for marketers at a big healthcare system.

But before I get there…some backstory context.

I have a presentation I give to all our new agency clients on the RSW/US side of our world to help them manage their engagement with marketers.

It’s called “Getting to Close”.

We put it together to help our agency clients better manage the new business development process as they are reaching out to you, the marketer, trying to win your hearts and pocketbooks.

One thing we impress upon agencies is the need to make it ALL ABOUT YOU!

79% of marketers in our surveys tell us that they think agencies talk way too much (about themselves).

And in open-ended comments, marketers make it very clear as to what they want from agencies when they meet with them.

This is what marketers tell us they WANT:

  • Ideas and how you’re different from other agencies
  • Ask questions
  • Demonstrate strategic understanding before creative
  • Curiosity about my business
  • Thought leadership
  • Being open to their ideas as well as presenting your own
  • Proven capabilities
  • Thinking & passion
  • New and unique solutions
  • Honesty

And this is what marketers tell us they GET:

  • The agency’s opinion
  • Creative highlights before strategy
  • Portfolio of past work
  • Often just a sales pitch on how great they are
  • Not enough about what you can do for them
  • Some cool examples that aren’t tied to their real world
  • Marketing speak

Oh so painful!

So this leads me into the final pitch presentation we orchestrated for this large healthcare system. There were three agencies (none of which were part of our sister companies roster) involved and they were all given the same Challenge Document outlining what we wanted them to focus on in the final pitch presentation.

One of the three agencies was head and shoulders above the rest.  They made their presentation all about the client. They did some of their own proprietary research prior t to the pitch presentation to really zero in on the problem that they believed they needed to address for this client and just tailored everything to the client’s situation and their needs.

While the other two agencies did a really nice job of responding to their RFI, neither agency did a whole lot to customize their presentation to  make it all about the client. While one did present some creative which was a nice touch, the creative mainly stayed centered on the existing positioning of the brand – which to-date, was having challenges that we all knew going in, needed to be addressed. More of the same wasn’t the answer.

So I bring all this up to help you, the marketer.

As you talk with agencies in your journey to find the perfect firm, keep an eye on how they act and what they put in front of you. And don’t just rely on a meeting or two or a piece of paper submission (e.g., RFI or RFP) to make your decision. You need to dig deeper, give them the right kind of challenges so you can more fully understand the real value of the firm and how effectively or not it’s going to partner with your internal team.

If you’re just not sure where to start or simply don’t have the time to manage an agency search on your own, we are more than happy to help out. We are a no-cost way for marketers to find best-in-class agencies. We make our money by taking a small commission from the winning agency. To-date we haven’t had a single agency not want to participate in one of our searches.