Media: Double Standards - 'Pitching for new business is a real team effort'

Two media agency heads of marketing discuss the benefit of having a thick skin and how the whole agency has to help with a new-business pitch.

KAREN BLACKETT - MARKETING DIRECTOR, MEDIACOM

- What do you do on a day-to-day basis to market your agency?

The role can vary between running the new-business pitches we are working on to working with the specialist departments on their marketing material, speaking to clients about MediaCom and our range of specialist services, organising internal events, meeting the MediaCom team to discuss projects, or talking to architects and designers about our new building redesign.

- What is the biggest misconception about your agency?

That clients with more moderate communications budgets won't get the service, thinking or powerful buying they deserve. In fact, the agency is structured to ensure all our clients receive a committed communications team.

- Are new-business opportunities drying up?

Err, no, not if this week is anything to go by. We're working on six new-business pitches, all in completely different market sectors.

- What makes a good new-business director?

A good listener, a good problem-solver and someone who is passionate about the agency. Respect for the team you work with and forging good relationships internally are paramount, as new business can be a very stressful, pressurised process. It also helps to have thick skin, plus a slightly fanatical nature with regards to organisation.

- What's been the most satisfying pitch you've been on in the past year?

Holding on to an existing piece of business is always hard, so retaining the COI press account was a fantastic feeling. Cementing the relationship further and getting on to the COI planning roster and winning our first assignment was also incredibly rewarding.

- Who is your agency's secret weapon in a pitch?

There isn't one person. Teams win new business, not individuals. We've always worked best as a solid team who trust each other and know each other's strengths and weaknesses. Teamwork is everything.

- What's been the best piece of pitch theatre you've ever done?

Our Wrigley UK pitch and the Masterfoods ICP pitch. We really lived and breathed the brands, and immersed ourselves in the consumers who buy them. The pitch was 90 minutes of pure magic.

- What's the main difference between a creative pitch and a media pitch?

I think all media pitches are "creative", as you need to bring your ideas to life. However, what is vital is tangible evidence your strategic idea will make a difference to the client's business objectives. Accountability goes hand in hand with media pitches.

- What's the worst thing ever to happen to you during a pitch?

Technology can always let you down and we have had a pitch where the entire presentation disappeared. Luckily, I work with a talented bunch of media experts who managed to talk the entire presentation, without using any visual aids. They knew their stuff and the client bought into MediaCom.

- What do you do to celebrate a big new-business win?

Regardless of whether we win or lose, we always let the entire company know the result. New business involves so many people in the agency and is not just the domain of the marketing team. It involves everyone, from reception and catering through to IT, buyers and planners. Win or lose, we share the news as a team and come together to have a drink, have some food and some time out just to reflect on a good job done.

MARCO BERTOZZI - MARKETING DIRECTOR, ZENITHOPTIMEDIA

- What do you do on a day-to-day basis to market your agency?

The main aim is to open a dialogue with clients and keep it open until the time is right. It is a combination of asking, writing, talking and meeting with a vast range of people. Marketing the agency is a combination of a targeted contact strategy and direct-response techniques.

- What is the biggest misconception about your agency?

That we spend every spare minute holed up in The Dudley pub in Paddington. This month, that myth will be broken as we move to our shiny new offices in Percy Street.

- Are new-business opportunities drying up?

I have gone on record with Campaign saying we have been in a lull but it is not drying up. If you ask people in the agency at the moment, they will definitely tell you it is not, as they are getting stuck into a few pitches.

- What makes a good new-business director?

You need to be able to stand on your own two feet, be eternally enthusiastic and optimistic and be able to get others to be likewise. It is a role that is often more behind the scenes than some would imagine. Be thick-skinned and organised. You have to be proud of your agency and really want to win.

- What's been the most satisfying pitch you've been on in the past year?

Lloyds TSB was a great pitch. It was a hard-fought pitch where many people had written us off. It was a great example of a huge team of people - from planners and buyers to senior management - all working together to make sure no-one was taking this business off us.

- Who is your agency's secret weapon in a pitch?

There is more than one. Laura Cullum (the marketing manager) and the team of PAs work endlessly to make sure the details around the pitch, arrangements, document and pitch presentation are all in place.

- What's been the best piece of pitch theatre you've ever done?

UIP was fantastic (if a little close to the mark, if Health and Safety had visited). We created one hell of a film set, complete with cables, film-set lights, cameras ... the works. It looked great, it worked better.

- What's the main difference between a creative pitch and a media pitch?

Every pitch is different, even in media. However, let's face it, they (creatives) get to end their pitch on some visually stimulating images, whereas we tend to end on a media plan and a set of figures, although we are grateful for our graphic designers who make things more exciting than in the old days.

- What's the worst thing ever to happen to you during a pitch?

It was not so much the pitch, more the fact the team was sent to the wrong venue. Enough said. Oops ...

- What do you do to celebrate a big new-business win?

After L'Oreal, we quickly organised Winstock in Holland Park. A marquee was set up, the agency had a half-day off and we provided music, food and drink and partied the afternoon away in the sun. The combination of an unexpected half-day, hot sunshine and lots of drink created a lot of gossip for the morning.

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Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).