Digging up the Pitch

It dawned upon me the other day that I had been in the advertising industry for over 30 years – that’s a long time!  I have spent an inordinate amount of that time pitching for business. This generally involves spending hours and hours of valuable time producing creative ideas and concepts for free to show prospective clients what you are capable of.

This can be great for clients but not so clever for the agencies involved. At Genius we take a very different approach - we don’t pitch for business and never will. It was one of the points Janice Rae and I were really clear about when we first set up Genius. When we looked at the pros and cons it seemed to be a sensible decision. Previous experience of balancing all the creative time and resources devoted to pitching for new business with what finally made it to the 'bottom line' made us realise that there had to be a better way.

The non-pitching approach has worked well for us in a number of ways. We can concentrate on giving our existing ‘paying’ clients the full attention that they deserve. Our account and studio teams can leave the agency at a reasonable time, and therefore we have a happy and efficient working environment. We can work without a huge new business team – resulting in some fairly sizeable savings. Our existing clients recommend us to other organisations presumably because they like what we do for them.

We normally try to persuade prospective clients from going down the pitch route, and instead persuade them to come and see us; if there's a natural fit then we'll encourage them to throw a live project at us. This enables them to see how we work under real conditions and allows them to assess how the account manager (who would be looking after them anyway) has performed. So many pitch situations are false as the actual team allocated to the pitch by the agency are not the team who would be looking after the client should they win the business.

For us, the analogy of pitching is like having the taps on full with the plug out. Look after your existing clients well and you won’t need to spend half your life chasing around the country replacing lost business.

Our industry needs to move towards the business model of other professional advisers like accountancy and legal services businesses - for that to happen we need to act more professionally and not give away our intellectual property.

With the extra time I’ve gained you can now find me around the lanes of Somerset on my road bike.