Maverick Thinking

The death of the pitch: is it time to say goodbye to traditional agency pitches?

19 April 2021
Katie Vickery image
Written by

Katie Vickery

Mobas' Head of Brand Strategy Katie Vickery and Commercial Director Adam Tuckwell take a look at how the agency pitch process has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, and whether this could be the end of the traditional pitch process.

Our lives and businesses have changed in countless ways since the outbreak of the pandemic. While businesses are physically opening up again, there’s no doubt that the impact of the pandemic is still being felt in terms of ways of working.

This is particularly true for a business with creativity at its core, such as Mobas. We’ve had to adapt to new ways of collaborating during lockdown, which has been both a challenge but also an eye-opener, as we’ve discovered new tools and ways of working. As we’re starting to see an increase in the number of new business leads coming into the business, our minds turn to the pitch process and how we can still ‘wow’ prospective clients with our creativity and demonstrate the Mobas personality.

Clients often say “you know when you have a Mobee in the room”, which we take as a real compliment. To us, it’s important to have a voice and an opinion, whichever room you happen to find yourself in. Our passion for our work is what makes our culture and it’s something we’re really proud of. It’s also something that we see as a big strength when it comes to pitching – after all, people buy from people.

But how can we demonstrate this spirit in a pitch environment that isn’t physically face-to-face? And how can we create a sense of theatre at a pitch which is totally virtual? We have conducted many pitches and chemistry meetings with prospects during lockdown and it’s something that we’re continuing to evolve and improve. For example, using rich content such as videos and animations to communicate concepts and thoughts that may otherwise be static has been effective, as it grabs the attention of the audience and also shows your willingness to go above and beyond.

The question that still plays on my mind is whether or not this new way of pitching will become the new expectation of clients across the board. For starters, pitching face-to-face takes considerable effort, and coordination of diaries alone for members of the client team who may not all be based locally can be difficult. Considerable time is spent in travel; often large office space is required for presentations; and you may not be able to get every single stakeholder in the room at once, leaving it to someone to have to relay the pitch to someone who couldn’t make it. None of these things are ideal.

While it can take considerable effort to organise face-to-face pitches, we believe that you simply don’t get the same buzz from a virtual pitch. It’s so much easier to read the room in person, to notice the side glances between team members and to feel the energy in a room. It also gives you a chance to start to build rapport with the client team members.

We appreciate that this concern might feel a bit heavily weighted towards the agency perspective, but our challenge to this is that as a client who wants to have a genuine, long-term partnership with your agency – who will in turn consistently create outstanding work for you – you need to buy into them. And we don’t just mean their process, their creative work or their credentials, we mean the people. The bringing together of two cultures can be incredibly powerful, but it can also create challenges, and so selecting the agency that’s the right fit for you and who will work in partnership with you to achieve your objectives – even if they didn’t quite nail the pitch brief – is surely the ultimate goal.