RECMA reported 150 plus media pitches in 2015; there were titanic media moves by P&G, Coca-Cola, DHL, General Mills, L’Oréal, SC Johnson and Unilever. After a year like this, it’s worth asking: are pitches the only way for marketers to solve problems with their agencies?

Our managing partner Simon Foster examines the case for M&M Global and highlights the case of moving from pitch to partnership…

The true cost of the pitch

Opportunity cost: Media pitches consume huge amounts of time and resource. For agencies: significant unpaid work and possible compromised service for existing clients. For marketers: a distraction from delivering the brand’s strategic objectives.

Trading continuity: Media agencies grow discounts year on year, so long trading histories tend to favour advertisers over media owners. Disrupt this consistency and risk reducing media value.

Knowledge loss: Each day the agency works with you it’s gathering knowledge and experience about your brands. Change agencies, and you lose this knowledge pool and it takes time to rebuild.

Process disruption: Daily processes from understanding procurement procedures to managing data feeds come under threat from a pitch move.

Four good ways to improve existing partnerships

Spend time diagnosing problems and causes: When things go wrong, don’t always assume the agency is at fault. Most media agencies employ smart and motivated people. For every perceived problem with an agency team there could be a corresponding issue within your marketing team.

Gain good operational insight:  Consider this scenario: the quality of campaign targeting is falling and it’s impacting your marketing teams. The 360-degree review identifies your media briefs are not concise enough to provide clear direction. Now you know the cause, you’re half way to solving the problem.

Benchmark for fee fairness: Imagine your CFO is pressurising you to reduce agency fees. The agency is resisting an overall fee reduction. Identify resource hours deployed across the different communication channels and you can use industry benchmarks to assess the resource value you’re receiving.

Agree an action plan: Once completed, insight gathering and benchmarking are critical elements of the action plan – which can include agreeing metrics for success, clarity of roles and responsibilities, better briefs, agreed process times, improving cross-agency working and sharing marketing calendars.

The benefits of moving from pitch to partnership

Your agency will see you as a genuine partner. The agency retains a client.  Both of you avoid the time and resource upheaval of the pitch. You also retain the valuable category knowledge residing in your agency and maintain process stability.

Focus on objective data, and it’s possible to identify relatively small changes in resources and costing that can scale to significant efficiency improvements.

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