The Communications Council has introduced pitching guidelines to prevent an increasing number of cases where agencies are subject to draining pitching demands that often result in little pay off.

The guidelines, squarely aimed at marketers as well as assisting promotional and experiential agencies, were developed following consultations with members of the Council’s Australasian Promotional Marketing Association (APMA).

Feedback from APMA members revealed that 75% had successfully pitched for business only to land on a roster with no immediate campaign work coming in the door. In addition, four other common issues with the pitching process emerged that put considerably strain on agencies – a lack of reimbursement for reasonable costs made when unsuccessful in pitching; no clear pitch evaluation criteria; too little time to pull together a pitch; and excessive delays in decision making client side, leaving agencies in no-man’s land and unable to pitch for competitors’ brands.

Committee chair, David Lo, says the guide focuses on what a good client-agency relationship can deliver. “Fundamentally, we believe best practice involves transparency, not too many agencies on the roster, a clear delineation of roles and responsibilities and the opportunity for all agency stakeholders to collaborate to produce more powerful ideas,” Lo says.

Commenting from the client’s perspective, marketing director of Diageo, Matt Bruhn, says the process shouldn’t be about pitching for work, but rather pitching for an ongoing partnership. “Great work comes after both businesses understand each other’s needs and can create together. Pitches are functionally and emotionally tough and you’ll often find they are unnecessary if you are investing in building great long term partnerships.”

General manager of marketing and customer experience at Australia Post, John Moore, is a believer in having one key agency in each core discipline with some small support agencies to cover overflow and standalone projects.  “My ideal pitch process involves around four to five agencies, three weeks and a real life campaign brief.  If it’s a full creative pitch my preference is to pay the agencies a nominal amount for their work.”

The guide covers the key stages of the pitch process including recommendations on when and how to pitch, brief requirements, IP and copyright, pitch reimbursements, assessment criteria and tips on managing the new relationship, all with a marketing activation dimension.

The Communications Council also has a set of digital pitch guidelines and healthcare pitching guidelines, which focus on specific pitch issues in the digital and pharmaceutical space.