It is no secret to anyone in the market that agencies are having many struggles with budget during 2020, a fact that directly affects the plans and ways of investing in new business. Advertisers have also suffered the consequences of an unprecedented situation like this first-hand, seeing their marketing budgets really affected and rethinking objectives and action plans in record time.
The planning and implementation of agency competitions has been affected, but not as we would think. From Media Auditors we have observed that advertisers have not suspended their plans to go to Pitch, but that the processes have had to be rethought, as has happened with the contract audits (link to the news of the pandemic audits).
In a “normal” pitch process, agencies and advertisers often invest a lot of resources and time. An agency selection process can last from two to six months (depending on the client), and many times this time invested by the advertiser can have consequences in their internal organization if they do not have a specialized consultant who is in charge that the pitch is handled efficiently and above all auditable.
The pressure that the marketing and purchasing departments have to make budgets increasingly efficient, demonstrating tangible results on their investments, makes the teams in these areas to constantly reinvent themselves, and the current situation with the coronavirus brings even more pressure to the matter. That is why the reinvention of the processes of a Pitch is natural and inevitable.
Some of the points that Media Auditors has observed and applied are:
- Chemistry Meetings, Presentation of Credentials and RFI: in many cases this stage is being directly suspended, going on to request the credentials of the agencies via email. In other cases, these meetings are held directly by videoconference to not lose sight of this first assessment of the agencies and their teams. Finally, there are cases in which the assessment of “chemistry” is carried out directly in the presentation phase, especially the Pitches that carry out this phase in the form of a workshop, where the agencies work dynamics can be clearly observed and see how well it adapts to the advertisers.
- Presentations of practical cases: one of the stages of greatest value for advertisers and that agencies count on to “sell” themselves and “win over” the client. In this case we observe that the main change is the format, that is, either the presentations are made by videoconference or in some cases it is recorded and sent to the client. After 6 months of teleworking, we are more and more used to speaking on camera and connecting in the best possible way. Even so, it is necessary to have a coherent agenda (no more than two presentations a day), connect 15 min before the call to avoid technical problems; and of course, develop a 100% clear brief on its objectives, so that the agency can capture the client’s concerns.
- Economic proposals: great care must be taken when evaluating the economic proposals of the agencies (team/fee, rebates, media optimizations), taking into account that we are in an exceptional situation in which the new business of the agencies is reduced and investments in media are affected, the fight to win the client is much more aggressive and can lead them to compromise in unattainable results and out of the reality of the market.
- Completion of the Contract is an extremely important point, since the contest cannot end in the selection of an agency without ensuring that the contract is signed with both economic and strategic proposals that are clear and coincide with what was promised during the contest. The contract should be as clear and precise as possible, so the supervision of an external auditor is a basic key for its preparation. In addition to collecting all the commitments in the contract, an evaluation and / or tracking system must be added so it can verify compliance with the commitments. In many cases, faced with the need to increase their market share, agencies commit to certain objectives that are too aggressive and difficult to fulfill. It is important that the contract includes control systems that penalize and prevent the breach of these commitments.
- It often happens that the agency’s commitments are connected to a certain scenario in terms of media share and the share of the main providers; once this scenario is not met, the agency usually uses it as an excuse for not fulfilling the agreement. In some cases, in more elaborate contracts, possible scenario changes are foreseen and the agency provides indexes to adjust the commitments according to the changes. These indexes should also be reviewed by an auditor, as they often not reflect the reality of the market.
- Another important point within the agencies commitments during the contests are the Work Teams. What we observe from Media Auditors is that the agencies during the Pitch propose a team that they do not yet have (on many occasions), and after the contract is closed and the relationship begins, the agency takes part of this time to carry out hiring of personnel, leaving the client with a structurally incomplete team, which affects account management, planning and purchase of their campaigns. We also observe that many times the client pays for the agreed fee even without having all of their workforce templates and in many cases due to the haste to cover the spaces, the team does not meet the seniority levels required by the advertiser.
At Media Auditors we continue to collaborate and work with advertisers in Mexico and Latin America in order to achieve agile agency selection processes, providing solutions not only to the common problems of a traditional pitch, but also reinventing methodologies so that our clients have security, even in these circumstances, in order for your processes to be effective and your objectives achieved.
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