I finally got round to watching the new Star Trek film at the weekend; it’s great entertainment. Lots of jaw-dropping special effects, some unexpected humour, plenty of nail-biting sequences and a theme running strongly throughout – the balance of logic, reason and science (Spock) with heart, feeling and instinct (Kirk) that’s essential to any successful mission. This got me thinking about what we do in our own industry, and though admittedly we are not charged with saving the universe, that same balance between the brain and heart is a recurring theme.
Pitching for new business has become just such a balance. It is no longer enough to win through on great creative work or strategy alone, nor is getting on like a house on fire with the client enough to secure a successful result. Because today the process is, more often than not, driven by purchasing departments.
Now, don’t get me wrong, we work with many purchasing departments who do an excellent job (and if you’re one of them and you’re reading this, then I’m definitely talking about you), many of which have mastered the art of achieving value for money whilst simultaneously allowing for successful agency partnerships. They do this by taking the time to understand the requirements of their own organisation and the partner agency alike; they understand the importance of organisational fit and of creating an environment where the exponential effect of true collaboration can be harnessed; and then they crunch the numbers, crunch them a bit more and strike a hard (yet fair) price too…
We’re lucky enough here at GyroHSR to work with many purchasing teams who partner with us in just this way, and I can see a direct correlation between those accounts we get the most satisfaction from working on and those purchasing departments who strike the balance between brain and heart.
But I’ve recently experienced pitch processes where that other kind of value, that which can’t be measured in price, hourly rate cards and discounts, appeared to get forgotten. In some extreme cases this has meant that the ‘i’s were dotted and the ‘t’s crossed before a brushstroke of creativity had been applied or a single human being met another in the name of chemistry. Where on reflection, the pitch result was determined by the price long before the agency got to show the work. Now that can’t be right can it? I struggle to think that even Mr Spock would agree with it.
Price is important (especially in these times), but there is always negotiation. More often than not a common ground can be found. Surely, finding what it is you actually require should always be the first step. And what price the wrong agency at the right price?
For me it’s about partnerships: mutually, commercially-beneficial partnerships between organisations and their agencies. Finding this ideal balance should surely be the aim of any purchasing department in setting out on the pitch process – to match their Captain Kirk with Doctor Spock and rocket their marketing efforts into hyperspace…
VP, International Client Service