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PODCAST: Hiring Agencies with Tina Fegent
Hiring agencies is a critical task in most marketing roles. In the modern world of marketing, there are so many expert disciplines that it’s tough, if not impossible, to do everything in-house. That’s where the agency world comes in.
Need an expert to increase your web traffic? Think search marketing. Want someone to design an impactful brand campaign? Look for an ad agency. And so on and so on. But how do you find the right agency? What is the process for getting from a marketing challenge to an agency solution? That’s where procurement maestro Tina Fegent comes in. Tina is a true expert in hiring agencies, with years of experience in client, agency and consultancy roles. What Tina doesn’t know about procuring agency services simply isn’t worth knowing. Good job that she agreed to come on the podcast to share some of that expertise, isn’t it?
Listen in if you want to learn the ideal process for identifying and hiring agencies and the common pitfalls to avoid. Wondering whether to include your incumbent in the process? Or whether to reveal your budget? The answers are within.
I hope you enjoy the show:
Connect with Tina here:
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The Books on Hiring Agencies Tina Recommends
Here’s a full transcript for those who like to read
Welcome to through the line, the Agency Squared podcast with me. Andy Bargery. In this episode, I’m chatting with the extraordinarily knowledgeable Tina Fegent agent who is a true marketing procurement expert, and Tina has joined me to explore the process of procuring marketing or creative services from a client or brand side perspective.
And it’s really interesting as she explores the process and best practise in that process, but also some of the pitfalls, the potholes that you might come across as a marketing leader.
But don’t fear if you’re in the agency side because there’s real value if you’re listening to this conversation as well, you’ll learn some of the things that clientside marketers are looking for and some of the ways that you can tackle or approach a marketing per kilometre exercise.
So hopefully something for all in this show.
Tina, good morning. How are you doing today?
I’m very well, Andy, thank you and yourself.
I am doing really well, actually, really well on this gloomy morning in the UK.
It’s very gloomy, isn’t it?
It is. It is indeed, but it’s nice to have you on the show. Thank you very much for joining me.
I was just saying before we hit record, how am I going to introduce you, because you’ve done so much. So I I’m going to try and introduce you and you can obviously fill in any blanks where I’ve gone wrong?
You’ve been in marketing procurement now for over 25 years and you have, you’re currently the chair of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply the marketing side of that, aren’t you?
You work brand side, working with some fantastic brands, Telefonica, GSK, Orange and Lucozade, then I think you flipped over to the agency side, jumped into. It’s either Lowe and then Grey, or Grey and then Lowe.
Yeah. Grey and Lowe. Yep.
Which way round? It is there you go and then. You became a consultant around about 2006 and you spent the last what is, 15-16 or so years helping both brands and agencies to get marketing procurement, right?
Yeah, that’s a pretty good summary. Thank you for that.
Thank goodness for that. I was thinking this half an hour of show I’ve spent half an hour introducing it, I’m not sure.
Yeah, and do quite a lot of pro bono stuff. So yeah, the CIPS, I’m Chair of the group. Also the Co chair of the advertising network Get Shit Done, advisory group, which that’s the manifesto that doing good and also support creative equals mentoring as well.
And after that actually I have got my mentee, so yeah, no, do a lot of pro bono stuff actually as well, and really enjoy.
I knew we could spend a lot longer introducing.
Well, kept it short, which was good.
Yes, that is good.
And and the reason why I’m really pleased to get you on to the show is, I think this topic of marketing procurement is covered a lot from an agency supply side. So how do I get more clients to my agency?
But one of the things I do a lot of teaching of CIM qualifications and marketing apprenticeships and one of the things I often hear from brand side marketers is I don’t know how to find the agency to help me fix this problem.
Or my SEO agency is not doing very well. How do I get a new one?
Who do I look for? Or I look at agencies and they all look the same. I don’t know really how to get the right one. So I would love to tackle this from the other perspective and just chat to you about how do you as a brand side marketeer hire the right agency to solve your marketing challenge.
What does that process look like and what are the kind of pitfalls and mistakes that marketing marketeers often make in procuring agency services.
So I don’t know if we can fit all that into ½ an hour show. That’s my challenge for you.
Yeah, we try. We try our best.
So let’s go with that process then. So what does a good procurement process look like? What are the steps to get you from? I’ve got a problem to solve to I found someone that can sort it.
Yeah. Well, I think the clue probably is in in your, in your question there is involve procurement. Obviously I would say that, but I think the first step is when the marketing personnel identifies that they have a requirement. It’s to obviously you know, speak to your procurement person because you know you need to know about your contracts and your existing relationships.
And I think sometimes you know, those things are forgotten about and you know, I hate doing contracts, but they are there to protect both sides, you know, be intellectual property, notice period that key individuals etcetera. So I think the first instance from a marketing person is they’ve identified the requirement.
And that could be based on, you know, changes in requirements as you said, you know, I’m not very happy with my incumbent for X number of reasons could be governance.
Obviously we know that some public sector companies have to review their agency relationship or commercial relationships every three, five years. So it’s understanding the requirement and then I would say in that first step is in engaging with your procurement team who then say, right, OK This is where we are.
I think the second stage is can you make it work with the incumbent? You know it’s.
Sometimes agencies think that clients love pitching all the time.
And as you rightly said, and there’s been a lot about the impact on agencies, things like pitch positive and about the mental health well-being of agencies and don’t pitch over Christmas.
Which is all great stuff.
Can you can you make the existing relationship? Work and I think, yeah.
Do do you find from your perspective, Tina, that it’s easier or better to fix the relationship with the incumbent than it to go to market for a new, a new supplier. Or or is it the way around? Do you think when you get to a point where you think you know it’s just not working. It’s time to change you. Do you then have to go and change.
Yeah, it’s it’s a good question. It’s knowing the rationale between them making that decision is gone too far. I need to go outside and look for someone else, so I think it depends on the knowledge, the experience of the marketing person, the marketing team, I think you know, is it a whim? Is it down to butting heads with an individual. Is it down to budget changes or you know, requirement changes? So I think that’s a hard question to answer. I think it depends on the marketing person
Yes, there’s probably lots of different Shades of Grey isn’t there as well.
Yeah. Yeah and the state and obviously the agency they’re dealing with and the sector they’re dealing with.
So I think is it easier. It is probably easier to make an existing relationship work, but it depends how far you’ve gone down that line so you know work client side.
You know, they’re a great agency who can help create the brand. And two years ago, but you know, they just couldn’t crack it. They just could not.
About the creative works part as fact, they’ve been, you know been with this from the own start, they just couldn’t crack it. So you know, it’s making sure it’s not done on a whim and a prayer and that actually, when the marketing team makes that decision supported by procurement and I think procurement brings impartiality, that they would say, right? You said you want to go out to pitch. You only appointed that agency two years ago.
You know, if we haven’t been involved, what are the issues? So I do think and say apologies those this plug from October, but we do bring that.
You know, we’re one step removed, aren’t we? So ee can then say, actually, have you done this? Have you looked? Have you spoken to him about this?
Because actually, you know, in the words of BT many years ago, it’s good to talk and I think, you know, the Oscars. Yeah, that that give my age away, Andy, those that listening are.
Ohh Bob Hopkins isn’t it?
Like who the Hell’s Bob Hope?
And he’s it’s it’s a total BT campaign. Look it up, it was really good. It’s a classic. Yeah, sometimes asked me the day what my favourite ad was. And do you remember the Uni gate ad for Humphrey? Watch out. Watch out as there’s a Humphrey about.
I don’t remember that one. Yeah, yeah.
It’s really good as well. People listening so.
You know actually that that the pitch for the Bob Hoskins. And I’m going to forget the name of the guy.
An absolute advertising legend. You you can find his actual recording of his pitch to BT of the Bob Hoskins campaign online. And it’s really worth watching.
Ohh, really. I’m definitely going to look for it.
I’m definitely was wasn’t Dave Trott wasn’t one of the sort of keepers.
No, it wasn’t, and I’ll remember at the second we stop recording.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. But. It’s definitely worth listening, but I think, yeah. So I think to answer that tricky question about is it right to the picture might involve procurement, they’re more impartial and make sure you know, are we always try and make the incumbent make it work first, because going to pitch is a lot of resources from the agency side, a lot of resources from the client side, and that’s a lot of the issues are from the clients diary and those decisions.
So yeah, try. That’s the first step is what’s the requirement?
Yeah, I really like that because I think from an agency point of view, sometimes it feels like you’re not involved in that decision, that process and perhaps there is there are signs that the relationship isn’t working and that needs to be addressed at that point. And having worked with a procurement team recently on a hiring an agency and the procurement professional was outside of the world of marketing, but the discipline around the process and the thinking that person introduced to the way we were handling that project was absolutely invaluable. Really excellent actually.
That’s great to hear. And they weren’t a marketing person, which was great.
No, not at all. I think they might have hired their communications agency before, but they were local authority procurement, so their expertise is in hiring, you know contractors and and all sorts of different services so they brought a different perspective to the conversation.
Yeah, that’s as long as they are experienced, you know there’s a story of years ago, the buyer she was buying baked beans for a well known baked bean company.
You know, and that’s a pretty tough job, isn’t it? If you think you’re buying well because you’re buying the beans, aren’t you? Before they’re baked and she got promoted and this is years ago to is a promoter cause she got promoted to marketing and did a digital pitch. And she went out to the big, you know, big digital sgencies that we know but she applied her bean buying process to digital, buying digital and of course, there are more in the marketplace because, you know, she just wasn’t educated into, you know, this sector, you know, someone put a post on LinkedIn the other day about the degrees of difficulty for a procurement point of view and actually marketing was up there as the number one, because if you’re buying, you know a pen, you know there’s a spec for that pen off. Buyng black currants for Ribena drink there, is that,
But when you’re buying people, which is what we’re doing in marketing it. Is it’s very hard and it’s. Very specialised. You have to know the sector. So it’s great to hear your good experience of a local authority.
Well, I think I think that worked well because he brought the real procurement discipline expertise and I brought the understanding of the agency, landscape and marketing and together it probably formed that nice little partnership that you described. You know we weren’t the baked bean buyer in that context.
Bean buyer. They must bake. They must bake it after they bought.
The penny just dropped David Abbott, Abbott Mead Vickers pitch with Hoskins.
Very brilliant. Yeah. Ohh I must listen to that.
I’ll send you a link.
Yeah. Great. Thank you. So I think, yeah. So you would do the pitch and then for the comments that sort of step one.
Step two, then is to do the chemistry stage the this is and again it’s pretty-quite unique. Procurement people who are buying again the the beans would you have a chemistry meeting? You probably have meeting with suppliers, but we’d like to have our own language in marketing, procurement. So we have a chemistry session.
Which, yeah, I’ve heard that called a tissue meeting before as well.
No, that’s different actually. So yeah. Yeah. So a tissue meeting is once you’ve appointed you’ve got, say, 3 agencies that going to pitch, they then hopefully you give them enough time like three weeks. You then want them to come with their ideas.
So I’m working on a common proof for client at B2B client and he they’ve had tissue meetings so it’s youth agencies going to pitch.
The pitch is in three weeks time, about halfway during that process. Let’s have a tissue meeting where you present your ideas and actually where that comes from and years, years and years ago, when creators used to draw it on tissue paper or.
Ohh tracing paper.
Yeah, yeah, not these days with these newfangled like computers. So, yeah, so that’s different. So just really pitch process. So a chemistry meet is you’d see a long list, basically.
What ideally goes into that chemistry meeting and from a from an agency point of view I always say look, if you’re in a race with more than five horses don’t bother racing because the odds of winning are too low.
But from a client perspective, obviously you want a longer list so that you can really make sure you’ve checked the market out so from a procurement point of view, what’s that kind of right number of agents on the long list.
Yeah. So on the chemistry stage, you could also issue an A procurement document called an RFI request information or you could ask for, I actually don’t like doing that. I actually asked for credentials, so I would go out to and work on a a pitch at the moment for a creative agency pitch and I’ve gone out to I do a long list of, say, 20 agencies.
Because clients you know, as I said, identify the requirements. But you know, ideally once you start looking at agencies, they say well actually that’s more digital or Actually I did want more SEO.
So I actually like to do a long long list because I think by going through, you know, looking at agencies websites initially, you know I met a client recently had the 20. We looked at their websites and actually for agencies that are listening and you know, I think a lot of agency websites really could do with sorting out because it’s like you know I got approach my agency to do some training last week and I was like I’m looking at the website. I actually don’t know what you.
Do you know? And you know, it is the Internet. Is the source of information these days, so.
I think it’s the first line of support, of course, isn’t it? You know, if you don’t have agencies that you know already and you’re looking for something fresh. You will look at a website and quite often they’re quite bland and vanilla and don’t really represent what an agency can do.
Totally agree. And then not very good SEO or PPC. So especially your digital agency, you would hope that you are because people I mean given I set out and I’ll get a Kelly’s directory or some big directory, and you know, you’d go on and you would look, I’m going to make myself seem old here and I’m not as old as I sound I promise you. But you know, I, you know, you’d get a directory and you’d look it up.
Whereas these days it’s the Internet, it’s a global marketplace and that is one thing for agencies, there’s a plethora of choice. I mean, there’s millions and millions of agencies, so, to that point of difference but.
The chemistry, chemistry meeting chemistry. So you do, I would say do a really long list from that you’d probably get down to 6 to 8 agencies and and I would ask for a call for credentials.
So your document, your sales document, other people might ask for request information again, a short document tell us who you are, ho your key clients are, who? The key individuals.
I then send those through to the client. The client then discusses it internally. So say if I sent eight through, they might come back and say, right, w’d like to meet five and then the chemistry meeting should really only be an hour, hour and a half.
Shouldn’t involve much preparation for the agency, and that chemistry should be to introduce the client to, introduce themselves to share their challenges. You know, why are they doing the pitch and I think sometimes clients dictate what the outcome to be. I want a new TV ad, no what’s your objective? What do you want the outcome to be? You know, share price is going down. Our brand image is going down.
You know, we’re going to new markets. We’ve got a new product variant. So it’s the client to present. You know what what the outcome is, what they’re looking for mccue and I mean.
And the agency to present themselves. What’s their experience? What’s the chemistry.
There’s very much a two way street at that stage, it’s agency trying to say well why we think we’re right. But also to understand can they actually solve this kind of challenge.
Yeah. And what I would have done in the meantime, Andy, was I would have been and I, you know, been a procurement focused person, I would have said, you know, this is a count from the agency. These the time scales and this is the budget because actually work from the client, you know, a great household brand at the moment, but budgets very small.
So I’d rather be open and obviously that predetermines what agencies are I’m looking for. I’m not going to go for top tier.
On David Abbott and A&B for client, that’s got a budget of X, you know.
Can we can we just can we just stick on that little point in their budget for a little moment because it’s one of those topics that I see debated quite a lot and I have a strong feeling on this, because Ig enerally look at this from an agency point of view. You know, if you’re talking to a client and they won’t give you a budget, there’s no point talking to them.
Because you don’t know what’s in their mindset. Here they could be thinking they’ve got £1,000,000 or it could be 100,000. It could be 10,000 and if they can’t give you guidance. You don’t know if you’re right. But I understand it from the client’s perspective as well in that I don’t want to give away my budget because I want them to tell me what this should cost without being either.
And find or getting over excited and then over egging the pudding with a ridiculous proposal. So, from your point of view, from a procurement professional point of view.
Share the budget? Or don’t share the budget?
From a procurement point of view, I say, share the budget. They would say don’t share it because exactly as you say, if you share a budget of £500,000, surprise, surprise and agencies are there were worst enemy they come in and they’ve spent £499,999. So that helps those.
It’s amazing, isn’t it?
In clients, I find that are reluctant to do that I say do a range. So safety budget is 250, 1000 you could say 150 to maybe 300 because actually an agency represent a stonking idea, a stonking solution that you might find that extra 50 grand for.
Sure, yeah, from a procurement point of view, I always, always share the budget but the majority of procurement clients don’t like sharing it, because agencies will meet that, so I say I’ll send it.
Yeah, and spend it. But I always say do arrange or do options.
So maybe say you know 100 to 200 grand or 200 to 300 or 300 plus agency to give options. But yeah, I believe in sharing the budget.
Excellent. We’re on the same train of thought. That’s good. OK.
Yeah. Yeah. So you have the chemistry. So step 2 is the chemistry. Yeah, a little brief. Have the meeting with a little scoring sheet. Quite low key, you know, and it’s scoring them on, on the people, the experience. Could we work with them? You know they can’t work with at the moment on the clients. They’ve got internal studio, so and they’re quite strong and their brand image is very strong.
So for me it’s quite key that you know the internal headers internal brand studio gets some of the agency and the agency can work with them. Because that can be tricky.
So I think lots of clients share, you know, update on the brand and their challenges.
Have the Q&A. So that’ll be stage two. Chemistry from that you would then go down to three to four agencies maximum for the pitch.
The issue here I think where some clients fall down is what you do with the incumbent.
And I strongly feel that if you really think about it when you started the process, so when you’re doing that step one about requirement, if they haven’t got a chance, if the relation is too far gone, just don’t waste your time or their time because there’s a lot of resource.
Do you think a lot of incumbent agencies going for it anyway in because they feel like, well, I’ve got a good chance there. But in reality, if they had a good chance, they wouldn’t be in this process in the first place.
Yeah, totally agree, Andy. And it does, you know even looking at Campaign. You know, the last few weeks, there’s obviously some big names going out and just think. Would you defend it?
I mean, you know, there are different reasons, aren’t there, different reasons why agencies want brands, probably usually the revenue, but the client name experience. So yeah, the agencies have different reasons, but say I would tend to recommend not to have an incumbent, and it doesn’t. Normally when I see you pitch, an incumbent has been reappointed because, as you said, Andy, you just spent some time and a bit of money making that relationship better in the first place or do a close pitch. Just say to the incumbent. I’m quite a fan of that, is I’m not going to invite anybody else in, but come on, you know, we’ve got some challenges we’re not happy with person X, we’ve got these objectives, we’ve got this budget. Let’s do a close pitch just with them and I quite like that.
I like that as well and I think there’s real value in long term partnerships and you know we had a kind of as a big tech software company and I think that they invested very heavily in building the relationship with our agency, as we did with them.
And as in everything, mistakes happen in in agency life and they’ve worked with us to overcome those and we improved a lot better over time and and I felt that work brilliantly for both client and agency side, and I think that too often in marketing, we have a short term view, we don’t think longer term and relationships between clients and agencies take time.
Yep, totally agree totally.
I’ve got said the chemistry stage. You were done. The non disclosure agreement, which hopefully is mutual from that point.
Yes, yeah, yeah.
Then you go into the pitch and the so stage. Three, the pitch.
Some clients and starting to see it, starting to look at paying pitch fees, yeah.
I haven’t seen it here.
Yeah, it’s always been a sensitive area. I think sometimes it’s normal, you know it’s normal. When they can’t. Work at the moment of about £5000.
Though both doesn’t touch the sides, It shows a bit of respect that actually. It’s this token, isn’t it?
They appreciate what? Yeah. Yeah, that’s another client.
Perhaps 20,000 pounds. I’ve seen another client where they get down, say from 4 agencies to two, and the US agencies to go again. They’ve paid them some money, so it’s really good to see that, you know, it’s not happening as the standard, but actually in the last six months year I’ve seen more agents, more client.
And I I will. I will say if you’ve got a bit of money, it’s a token gesture. I would just do it, you know, for £5000 for example. From that point of view.
Even if it just covers some of the agency’s expenses, if there will be, it’s a very good sign of goodwill.
Exactly. Yeah. So you’d have the pitch. And that should be three to four agencies and obviously the client has given the brief and obviously from a client point of view it’s that’s their important document.
I saw a good article that Xavier read to heads up. Have us created the end of last year. We said to you know, when you write a brief to a client, make sure you tell us what your problem is. What is your business problem? Do not give US solutions. That has resonated with me.
Ever since and I tell that to all my clients that I work with is don’t dictate on the new TV at what a new digital campaign. You know I want a 30 second add. You say what your problem is. You know why you’re doing the pitch.
We’re looking for, you know, a new support and let the agency determine how they answer that.
I think certainly if you want to assess them for their strategic ability as well as their execution, that’s a great way of keeping it open, isn’t it?
Yeah, yeah. But many clients, you know, to answer the second question, one of the potholes is they, they dictate the outcome. Yeah, as what the deliverables are. And you shouldn’t do that.
It’s what is your problem. Let the agency decide how they resource up and how they sort of solve that. So yeah, so the first stage would be the pitch and you’d have a scoring sheet.
No. You’d have a theatre, you know, I mean, years ago I worked agency side CEO on the agent to work, we was pitching for that for a bank and they wanted to build a fake bank on the rooftop of our agency office. Yeah. We also went to pitch for a low cost airline and I happen to know the e-mail work for him somewhere, and I was in the meeting as commercial director, as you do. And I sort of said, oh, it’s £1.50 for the teas and coffees that I was dish it out. It’s like you chose that and we didn’t get through. I like. I like the thick. But that wasn’t bad to me, but I was trying to manage the fact when a really posh office that, was like 60 pounds foot or something?
So yeah, pitch theatre, you know? And I always joke with agencies, as you know, what chocolate biscuits that you put out and an agencies, I mean the day well, we have client biscuits and we have procurement biscuits, and we have agency biscuits.
So what? What’s the level of the biscuit, you know?
Wait, so hang on. So does the client get chocolate biscuits and agencies get something a bit more affordable?
Yeah. Yeah, the colburns.
Or the Jimmy. What is it? Rich tea? Probably the Rich Tea.
Yeah. So anyone. Listen, if you wanna send me some biscuits, you know I’m more unhappy with some Fortnum with Mason biscuits.
A digestive. You’re going to be inundated before the amazing biscuits.
Yeah, well, I’m not complaining about that. That’d be great, but yeah. So yeah, the pitch theatre and it’s nice to get out I think.
Coming out of COVID, obviously everything was done online. I think now I’ve got most clients actually, both chemistry and pitch are face to face.
Well, that’s good because I helped quite a few pitches be delivered over COVID, and I think everyone got used to the idea of pitching on Teams, but if certainly did take away some of the, I don’t know the personality of, the agencies pitching.
It felt a bit more, not sterile, but just you didn’t get a real sense of who they were.
Yeah. So and I think after COVID, we saw perhaps chemistry being online, but the clues in the name, it’s chemistry as you said, you can’t do that and then pitch your face.
But now both pitched some work. At the moment they’ve done chemistry and pitches face to face, which is great.
Artina is great.
Actually, yeah. And actually the B2B one he’s done with chemistry at the agency’s offices because he’s they’re looking for more like agencies in Manchester and sort of stuff like that.
Yeah. And I thought, well, good on you. You actually gone out. They actually did the briefing at one that I love. I love briefing has been done on site, so there’s a story of a well-known pizza brown pitch. A few years ago made it There briefly in the test kitchen, which I thought was brilliant.
But the beep beep.
Really good. But the B Corp I’m working at, the moment they have they build units on the side of the motorway? So they did it at one of their sites?
You know, hard hats and everything. But the agencies loved it. You know, you get a feel for it so yeah, yeah.
That’s a first. I mean I did a, I hired a web development agency for a company, probably 2-3 years ago, was it pre-Covid? It doesn’t matter.
Anyway, part of the briefing process was they they took us all to lunch at their favourite pub, which is called the Lord Nelson in Southwark, I think, in London. Yeah, they’re just really funky place. And these amazing burgers. It’s really kind of punkish by the river and the brief was I want you to recreate this place on our website. I want this feel of adventure and excitement and challenge and you know and and it was great, and the execution was exactly that. It was the best brief I think because they really absorbed the culture of the place they were trying.
Yeah, that’s fantastic. That is really good. So, yeah, so you do the brief fit, you do the briefing and you run the pitch with the chocolate biscuits or not so, and from and also share the scoreing, hopefully so the agencies do know what they’re getting scored.
On, you know, be a strategy.
Relative and obviously from a procurement point of view would have the commercial element as well. So you know I always run it in parallel.
So there’s the client brief. What are our business issues?
What do we need to solve. I would want them for the current point of view on the commercial brief as a separate document. So the B2B at the moment we’ve actually had commercial tissue meetings where three agencies have presented, you know, rate cards, things like cultural ties and networking opportunities.
Are what the fee is added value and their view on this draught contract. So I actually I’ve had tissue meat clients had his tissue meetings on the strategy and creative and I’ve had my and he’s actually been in my meetings as well, where we’ve reviewed the commercials, so the pitch and next week, so by tomorrow I’m going to have all the commercial documents in.
I you know, I know what all three are thinking straight away.
So at that stage in those tissue meetings, do you ever get to the point where you’re like. You know what, this isn’t working.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And the client.
People can fall out at that stage.
Actually, yeah. Won the pitches this week. The client actually has gone back he had the tissues last week for the pitches next to and he sent two emails on Monday actually saying, you know, here’s some positives, but actually you just need to look at XY and Z.
Yeah, which is good. I mean, I, you know, there’s a lot of pitches during COVID with a soft drinks company and we gave them the agency options and some didn’t take it up. You know you have the option of one or two tissue meetings, you should always take them up. Just get get you from the client.
Absolutely. You gotta start building rapport and relationship, haven’t you? Before the pitch. If nothing else, you need to look at the whites of the eyes of the person you’re pitching to and start to get a sense of what their style is.
Yeah, totally agree. Yeah. So two step three to pitch and then step four is post pitch. And I think sometimes that’s often forgot about. Right. So get we love anyway because obviously we got the negotiation, so you know we would always try and have a short list of two you know which obviously if there’s three agencies is hard. If there’s four agencies, maybe falling away after the pitch and then you try and ohh hopefully negotiate with two, you know, and we procurement is governed by our clients.
So obviously you’d know which the client probably has got a favoured one. Sometimes it’s close, so post pitch would then be obviously to negotiate commercial, and obviously the contract. And I think the step a lot of people forget about is then follow up.
So we’ve done the pitch and we’ve had those four stages, but actually the 4th step is while you’ve done the post pitch and feedback, feedback is really important as well.
And I think some agencies don’t take it up. The client should always offer feedback because it’s like, you know, some some clients don’t. Some agencies don’t take it up.
But to do those reviews, because actually it’s the first year of working.
You’ve agreed a fee. You’ve agreed the scope. You agree, people.
You should have those quarterly quarterly commercial reviews, you should have those client reviews as well. So I’m a big fan of post pitch. It’s not just the day after or whatever, it’s for the next year and actually you’re assessing.
How’s it working on both in terms of scope and people commercials as well. So 4 stages identified requirements and work on to go for work stage, stage two chemistry, stage three pitch stage 4 is post pitch and actually the longest bit is probably post pitch because that that should be six months a year after the pitch to make it work.
How long would you? Say on average that process takes from. We’ve got an issue to we’ve appointed an agency:?
Three months, OK.
Well, we say allow three months, yeah. And obviously, you know and be aware of holiday. So obviously last week one of my clients, you know, we were trying to get the chemistry meetings in, but it was half term you know, so maybe half term this week going to London yesterday, loads of kids around.
Yesterday as well, but be respectful and not for Christmas and for my holidays Etcetera. So yeah. So on on a good one. You know allow for three months subject to sort of standard holidays as it were.
Yeah, life does get in the way sometimes, doesn’t it?
Yeah, it does. It does. Yep, Yep.
So that’s a pretty clear process and I like that it’s really clear steps for how to get from a challlange to a solution.
So let’s move on then to talking about kind of common challenges, pitfalls or potholes.
What are the things that you most often see marketeers getting wrong in this process?
Yeah, I think we’ve covered a few of them, but for my list, I think the view on incumbent, I think that marketeer needs to have a strong point of view.
You know, I did one pitch a few years ago where they were really dilly dallying around about should they be in? Should they not be?
So I think you know if you know you’re going to pitch, have a strong view on the incumbent, don’t waste their time and don’t waste your time.
Yeah, I’ve been on the receiving end of that actually as we used to do some work for Vodafone in the PR capacity and they put the our account up for pitch and didn’t even tell us. So when I found out, I found out about it because I was advising another PR agency who had been invited to pitch for it but. that’s actually my business. That was a shock.
And then I did get to speak to the PR director. She said, look, I’m sorry. You guys are just too small. We’re looking to consolidate a bit here and that and that was a bit frustrating, but I respected the fact that they made a decision on it.
Yeah, but it’s all about communication, though, isn’t it, but that’s my motto in life anyways. Communicate and I think sometimes both client and agencies aren’t always the best at communicating for whatever reason.
I agree, yeah.
On that. So the second one is as I sort of mentioned earlier, is dictating what the outcomes are. You don’t wanna dictate what the outcomes are. You really do wanna share your business challenges and get the agency to decide how they And. And I think sometimes your choice of agency. Obviously you’ve already dictated what the answer is, and if you’re looking for SEO, you know the problem is you’re not getting enough traffic to your website.
So the answer is going to be that limited range of tactics within the SEO remit, but if you’re broader. I suppose you can leave it open to interpretation.
Yeah. And also in these days of an integrated agency, which a lot of agencies are integrated and have offerings let them come back to you with the offering. So if it’s two people from the SEO agency, one from the brand agency, let them don’t dictate.
So I think share your business challenges and let the agency come back, you know, free thinking as the structure and how they wanna deal with it, the next one was we cover that as well was budget so I think that really does determine and yeah, I need that. You know, as someone who works in emergency pitches, is is actually you said earlier, is it 100 Grand, 500 grand, a million because that will dictate the type of agency.
You know quite recently and the budget was X but they wanted top tier agencies, I said well and it’s a European brief, You know, you might want to use the hot agencies in town, but for that you got to be realistic. You wanna be a big fish in a small pond. That’s it. Yeah. So it’s a small fish in a big pond who another client comes a lot. Then you might be attractive for the right reasons. They want your brand, but actually, how long is that going to last for? So I do have a strong view that clients should share the budget.
And and be open about it and say if you stop then do do. Do you arrange it? The 4th point is feedback, I think clients can be quite lazy, but they they could just be a bit more on it in terms of written notes, you know. Writing down stuff. It’s one thing I always hate and is like in a pitch. I’ve got my notebook and then the agency person sits next to me. You’re like, oh, you go look at my notes from the point of view too expensive or something, but you know, I do think clients should be better at comprehensive note taking. However form to feedback both the successful and unsuccessful.
Yeah, I agree. It’s totally unreasonable not to offer feedback to those that have pitched and been unsuccessful that that’s kind of their payment for going through that process, I think is to learn something. They’re not going to get any fees, but you might be able to help them to do better at their next pitch.
Exactly. And I would say to any agencies listening always, always take up the offer of feedbeack. Pitch last year, there are three agencies, big agencies and one thought we had, they had it didn’t have it. I mean it’s a big some big commercial issues, actually.
In it that that they threw in the last minute the client wasn’t happy with, but the client, the agency never want to talk to me about it, you’re like well. The only way you’re going to learn is by having that conversation and and saying right, well, we thought we did it because of this. But you know, my interpretation was though and you know, I still think about that today and that’s 18 months ago I thought well and now would I put that agency on a pitch list? I probably wouldn’t. Because of the way they handled. It you know, sort of like spoil like. Throwing the pram toys out of the pram almost.
Yeah. What are they going to be like to work with?
Yeah. Yeah. So you gotta think.
Wow, that’s a really interesting perspective on that, so. I think that yeah, I mean, I think from an agency point of view. You’re foolish not to take that feedback, but if you if you then consider it might impact your ability to get onto a pitch list in guture it might be even more important to do, yeah.
Yeah, but it’s surprising number of agencies that don’t you know I’m always quite surprised. I think also the thing from a agency from a client point of view, being realistic about what who’s on your team, I wanna use that top creative director. I wanna, you know, I wanna work that planner. Yeah. You know, they’re one that expect always can be always expensive. But two, they’re working across multiple clients. So I think, you know, be realistic about. Who you want to deal with and the value of your account with the agency and that’s why it’s important to get the agency in the 1st place so.
You know, be really thick about the input of the, you know, the founders. You know that those senior people you know, and if you want it, you pay for the time.
Yeah, that’s something that I think you said that’s really, really relevant is be realistic around where you fit within that client roster.
I suppose you don’t want to be the smallest client on an agency’s roster, so if you’re a medium sized brand and they’re looking after all bigger brands that they’re going to be expensive, but for me, you’re not going to be their priority, unfortunately.
Yeah. We just. Yeah, I think realistic. Exactly. Yes. Andy. Yeah. And my last point would be is be self aware of your own processes.
That’s great. Realistic. OK.
So you know, clients go in, yeah. Here’s my scope of work. It’s fine. And then the agency is like, well, they didn’t give me consolidated feedback. Oh Europe was added in, oh and they threw this extra bit of work. Oh sign off was a nightmare. Took three months and they didn’t honestly, and that’s why I said the fourth stage and the pitch process is post pitch because if you got those quarterly reviews that are covering. Go for work. The team you know fees and ways of working so.
And that’s often why pitches get called ways of working are broken down. You know. Where’s the stage? Where’s the sign off? Why are PO’s are taking too long. We, you know, we’re bankrolling you. You know if you’ve got a third party cost. So I think. A lot of clients fall down on ways of working. And their own ways of working so they they should get their own house in order first or you know, and I’ve seen it, you know, we know what it’s like. Don’t we agencies over invest in the first year?
And I had one recent fee was agreed, you know, and actually the agency spent half over service to 50% of the food. So the food was a pounds the agency over serviced because the clients were working by half a million pounds. Client also then reduced the scope and the fee.
Was half a million so really net, net, the agency didn’t earn any money.
To make any money, you know they’re not making any money, they’re not going to do a good job for you.
Exactly, exactly. You gotta be realistic about it. So for me, that is quite a big one that often gets not looked at the clients ways of working. I mean, it’s only feedback and sign off and also he owes me. It’s just such a basic thing is 30 days payment terms and meals at the end of last year. Doctor Peppers. After period, fancy in the state.
360 days payment terms is like, Yep, yeah, yeah. And for PR, which it’s not going to be a huge budget.
Really, that’s outrageous.
I mean in the States it would be fairly big, but I just think, if I was Dr Pepper you know, I don’t know what’s an American, you know, convenience store, You know, I’ll be like, I’ll pay you in a in a year’s time then, because that’s what they’re doing for PR agencies, that’s that’s not going to be the case. It was outrageous.
That was outrageous. And that’s client, you know, that doesn’t.
That that shouldn’t happen really. I mean 360 day payment terms is unbelievable.
It it really is so I think that that’s my last point on the potholes is get your own house.
Yeah, I agree so much. If if you want this to be a long term relationship with your agency and if you’re investing in this pitch process, you obviously do want that to be something that sticks around for a while, then getting your house in order is really important.
And and I’ve been on that agency side many times where you get given the green light, then the PO doesn’t come. The all shots start on this.
Yeah, they got people. They don’t start until you got the PO.
I know, I know, it’s easy to say that.
I’ve got recently asked the client you know abroad actually last week but at most, PO, until I’ve travelled and I know what the costs are, you know, tube, blah blah blah. So I’ve done the work, been been this, you know, was was all for a couple of days. Done the work but I’m still waiting for the PO, you know. Even though I’ve had to pay for my flight and everything. So yeah, so I know. What it’s like, so yeah. Get your own house in order.
We’ve all been there.
Tina, thank you very much. There’s so much of value in there.
I do wanna ask you. Really, before we sign off is for two things. Really. Where’s a good place to look to for or whether you go for inspiration, ideas, advice around procurement and what kind of books do you read? I suppose, or podcasts do you listen to?
And that’s the first question. The second one is. There are bound to be people that think they want your expertise to help, so how should people contact you?
Thans Andy, yeah. Well, the easy answer. The second one is you know, just go to my website, which is Tina Fegent, my name.
So even though Fegent sounds French, I’ve got 13% in my Marco level, so you know, so I don’t.
It is an accent of one of the years or something breaks.
Exactly. Yeah. So yeah, just go www.tinafegent.com.
Just drop us a line. So thank you for that.
Or my LinkedIn.
Where do I go for inspiration? To be honest, I don’t read many procurement. There’s no, there’s no procurement. There is one good there’s two good procurement books.
One is called magic and logic. So if you type in magic and logic and it was the first time I put on my LinkedIn post last last week. Actually it’s an oldie but a goodie. It’s the first time that CIPS are working together with the IPA, the trade body for top agencies and is for you know the advertisers.
But it’s gotta be 18 years old now. They commissioned Marilyn Baxter, who’s ex CEO at the time, and Holland Partners to do a study of the three-parties working together, so I’d recommend anybody start to look at.
You can if you put magic and logic. Actually I find it on the IPA website and. It’s a PDF.
I put on LinkedIn last Friday and I got loads of comments people like oh, I was involved and that was a great thing and and well, it’s it’s still fairly. Up to date, so I would tell record.
There’s always the book that I wish I’d written by a guy called Jerry with a G priest PR. Double ECE get what the book’s called his ex PNG. It’s American book.
Just go on Amazon it’s £5 one at first week. And it’s really good and it’s a book I’ve always wished I’d written. And he talks on Martin.
Current point of view and basically how we should be called as marketing investment. So that’s to and also Marco Farmer did a book was looking at my called Madison Ave manslaughter. So that’s the other book I would recommend.
Madison Avenue Manslaughter
Yeah. By Michael Farmer, again written from the states. And he’s got a really interesting perspective, actually gives you the history of advertising.
How once there were just the Commission rate, because obviously advertising media were one and it was post war and it was the event of that big TV advertising Jolly Green Giant and the agencies were at the table with the CEO’s and basically.What’s happened since?
So that’s a three books, I said two, but there’s that’sThe few books I would recommend and then I just access the trade press, you know, so I, you know, obviously get the trade press and every week and also start doing on LinkedIn that follow me Tina tells on a Friday people tell.
Have just opted there.
Ohh yeah yeah.
I’ll have to make sure I’m following.
There’s actually a client asked me to do it and and I do it every Friday for them face to face, which is five things I’ve seen in the week and so I’ve agreed with them. I will post that two weeks after I’ve shared it with them, so I’m on week six with them this week, so tomorrow I’ll be posting week four and it’s four or five articles that I’ve seen, you know, things like the IPA where the budgets, for example, the A conference is there’s.
We also added the week so my out of the week as well. So yeah, hashtag with Tina tells, yeah, yeah.
Tina tells hashtag. OK.
And that gives you insight every week to what marketing persons finding of interest. So yeah, just you find that on my LinkedIn post.
I’m not going to, but I’ll probably I’ll help, but I’ll definitely find it of interest.
Yeah, look really, really good to talk to you, Andy, thanks. Yeah.
Yeah, Tina, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks so much and hopefully catch up with you in face to face at some point cause we’ve only met ringing that online, haven’t we?
Great. That’d be great. Thanks, Andy. Look forward to it. Thanks. Take care. Bye.
Cheers again. Bye bye.