Here you can find answers to frequently asked questions in the area of pitches and pitch consultants. This brings us to the first question:

1What exactly is a pitch consultant?

A pitch consultant does exactly what we do. He offers an enormous range of consulting services; the search for and selection of advertising agencies and communications service providers is just one part of this. We are not too fond of this term, which has somehow become naturalised, because it is too simplistic and is interpreted very differently: Are only pitches in terms of pitch presentations concerned? Or is the overall selection procedure intended? Are only selection procedures involved? Do you perhaps assist agencies with pitches? There are a lot of questions.

We still accept the term because it allows us to be found.

Side note: A pitch is defined as any kind of overall selection procedure. A pitch presentation is exactly what it sounds like: A pitch presentation.

2How are pitch consultants paid?
We do not know how other pitch consultants are paid. Francis Drake is only paid by its customers – companies putting out advertising – and has no business relations with advertising agencies. You can rest assured that we take a completely neutral and objective approach in all that we do.
3What are the rules for a successful pitch presentation? (Short version)
  • No more than 3 agencies
  • Clear brief/clear assignment
  • Clearly defined scope of work
  • Sufficient time (takes place outside of office hours!)
  • Ideal sequence: Brief, re-brief, quick strategy overview, creative overview, presentation and, if applicable, management summary
  • Always have time for questions
  • Respect
  • No pitch presentation without a presentation fee as an allowance
  • Unified participants on the customer side
  • At the same time: Clarify contract and remuneration, avoid deal breakers
4How is a promising pitch presentation structured? What mistakes should be avoided? (Long version)

A pitch presentation (in terms of the traditional definition of pitch) should follow an established process sequence and rules of conduct, however, it presents companies with a number of ‘opportunities’ to trip up.

Less is more

The field of participants should be as small and concentrated as possible. In our experience, it is best to have no more than 3 participants. It is important to have a good pre-selection, which can be difficult without the involvement of pitch consultants. If there are more participants, you will often have to deal with criticism of a lack of seriousness (is the aim just to collect ideas?). What’s more, many agencies have doubts about their chances of success and refrain from taking part. At this point, it is important to consider that agencies anticipate a huge additional workload if they participate, which will have to be tackled alongside the tasks of day-to-day business. No external pitch team is expected to pick up the work.

No fee, no pitch

The payment of an appropriate pitch fee is also closely tied to this. What we mean by appropriate is that it should reflect the size and scope of the task. Amounts between €5,000 and €20,000 are certainly feasible. The high fees certainly do not cover the costs incurred by advertising agencies, these should be regarded as “compensation” and mostly only cover travel expenses and some technical costs. However, the role of the fee in terms of discerning the seriousness and the spirit of partnership of the pitch is much more important.

The road to success: Multiple steps and time

A promising pitch presentation is well prepared and ideally consists of multiple steps: Brief, re-brief, overviews (strategy and creation), final presentation and, if applicable, management summary. It is important to schedule enough time and allow for realistic timing for these. In any event, this should be 6-8 weeks. Hitting agencies over the head with a pitch over a period of 2-3 weeks is money down the drain.

A good brief that leaves no questions unanswered is the most important foundation for the success of a pitch. The content of a good brief cannot be addressed here, however there are a few important points. In general, a brief cannot simply be sent to the agency. It should take place in person, ideally during a brief workshop with a sufficient amount of time. All relevant stakeholders should take part in this brief (in the case of doubt, this should include an owner, managing director or Executive Board member so that they do not wait until the final presentation to declare their expectations, which can have drastic consequences). Many customers think it is a good idea to brief all participating agencies in a collective workshop. To be honest, that is a crazy idea as this approach leads to the agencies closing off and not asking any smart questions. It is not conducive.

Advertising agencies should have the chance to be re-briefed (at least over the phone). All outstanding questions and interpretations are clarified before the agency starts work. Then, at the very least, there should be an overview – ideally at the premises of the agency. At this stage, initial approaches and/or different routes can be sounded out and changes of direction made. Two overviews have proven useful: first, strategy and then creation.

Equal rights for all

Clear guidelines and rules of play should be established for the final presentation. Agencies need to have a very clear-cut idea of what they need to present. At this point, a foundation needs to be created for strong comparability. This is particularly important if market research is subsequently planned and corresponding uniform documents are required for this purpose. The agency is to be reimbursed for the costs of these documents and/or these should be accounted for in the pitch fee.

Allowing space for individuality

A note on comparability: In our experience, it is an error that is often made when levelling is carried out between the individual advertising agencies in the course of the procedure. If, for example, an agency specifically asks for specific documents of the company that they have researched, it makes sense for these documents to also be available to other agencies. The same goes when an agency asks about the possibility of shadowing work in a branch or establishment of the customer. Proactively allowing other agencies to do this only interferes with the competition, which it what it is actually all about.

Avoiding deal breakers

The customer often forgets or refrains from clarifying the issue of the agency contract in parallel to the pitch presentation. In our view, sending agencies a draft contract along with the brief, requesting that they agree to it a few days before the final presentation and/or specify their key amendment requests, has proved successful. When you decide on an agency, this gives you clarity on the type of cooperation and you therefore avoid subsequent deal breakers. It is perhaps even more important that you do not yet have to start contract negotiations (you already have more than enough with the cost negotiations) once you have made the decision on an agency with a cherished new partner.

Last but not least

Providing qualified, open, honest and detailed feedback to weaker agencies is often neglected. Doing this during a face-to-face discussion has proved successful and is greatly appreciated by agencies.

5How does a customer benefit from the involvement of a pitch consultant?
  • You get the overall market overview.
  • You save a lot of time – starting with the selection procedure and subsequently during other important marketing tasks.
  • You save costs – starting with the selection procedure and during the subsequent cooperation with the right agency for you.
  • You get an experienced and professional agency assessment.
  • You receive an unbiased, objective and neutral opinion.
  • You gain the certainty of finding the right agency partner and obtaining an audit-proof selection procedure.
6How does an agency benefit from the involvement of a pitch consultant?
  • Guaranteed, adequate remuneration of the pitch presentation analogously to the task
  • Certainty of the ‘seriousness‘ of the selection procedure (keyword: ‘fake pitch’)
  • Transparent procedure (no ‘black box‘)
  • Clear task description
  • Full brief addressing the agency
  • Objectivity throughout the procedure
  • Extensive, constructive feedback
7Why do customers look for a new agency? Or: The top 10 reasons why customers become dissatisfied with agencies

Customers involve us because they do not have an agency (for a certain area of expertise) or because they need to regularly invite tenders. In more than 80% of cases, however, customer dissatisfaction with the existing agency is the reason for this. These are the top 10 reasons why (basis: approx. 100 selection procedures that we have implemented or assisted with):

  1. Inadequate process and project management (lacking understanding of the processes as well as a lack of implementation tools)
  2. Not the team promised or one that constantly changes (including a lack of capacity and deterioration)
  3. A lack of holistic digital understanding
  4. Weak strategy
  5. Inadequate quality of consulting
  6. Lacking or lack of proactivity
  7. Not on equal footing, inadequate understanding of the customer, not a sparring partner, leading role not exercised
  8. Poor-quality content and technology
  9. There is no further development (only on the customer side)
  10. Inadequate or lack of willingness to collaborate with other agencies of the customer
8What mistakes do agencies most often make in presenting themselves? Or: What makes it so difficult for marketing managers to correctly assess an agency in comparison with others?
  • No clear and unique service profile
  • No presentation of 2-3 powerful unique selling points (why should the agency be put on the books?)
  • Inconclusive presentation: What are customers? What references? What experiences (in the team)?
  • Inadequate case presentation (“A case must be a case!”) A case must include: Task/challenge/objective, strategy, idea, solution, implementation/creation, result (if possible)
  • Inadequate team presentation
  • Poor contact information
  • Outdated website
  • Negligent treatment of own PR
9What mistakes do agencies most often make in the agency selection procedure?
  • Too few questions are asked
  • Connection between presented cases/references and team/core team incomprehensible (are the key people still at the agency?)
  • Distribution of tasks in presentations too one-sided (pitch teams or only director presented!)
  • Discrepancy between strategy and creative implementation
  • Often not transparent and incomprehensible offers
  • Inadequate presentation of procedures
  • Partially unrealistic scheduling
  • Incomplete documents
10Are there alternatives to a pitch presentation as a decision-making basis?

‘Challenge projects‘

Working closely with you, we develop a brief for a real and paid trial project, which you can use to review one or more agencies in actual day-to-day business over a number of weeks – giving you a very reliable basis for decision-making.

‘Immersion workshop‘

Become better acquainted with potential agencies in immersion workshops organised, held and moderated by us.

‘Customised solutions‘

For example, assessment check and pitch garage: two other formats for an even better qualitative assessment of the professional skills of agencies, method of collaboration between agencies and customers and – last but not least – good chemistry.

11How did FRANCIS DRAKE get its name?

Sir Francis Drake was an explorer, privateer and one of the first circumnavigators of the globe. As an outstanding navigator, he is considered one of the most prominent personalities in seafaring to this day.

Navigation skills are also needed when you, as a company putting out advertising, want to find the right partner in the sea of countless advertising agencies and communications service providers.

This is where FRANCIS DRAKE comes into play: We are specialised in the search for and identification of the agency partner that is right for you, your goals and challenges.

12How long does an agency selection procedure take?
In just 6 weeks and 4 fixed meetings, we will find you an agency partner that is the perfect fit for you.