How to run a best-in-class media agency pitch process to find the perfect agency partner

Media Agency Pitch

May 31, 2022 | Philippe Dominois

How to run a best-in-class media agency pitch process to find the perfect agency partner

Media agency pitch processes are complex and high-stakes affairs. But the growth and positioning of your brand are on the line, so it’s crucial to have your media pitch process operating to its full potential.

With more than 40 years of high-level experience, our founders have identified the 30 crucial steps, across six distinct phases, that make up a solid media agency pitch process.

This process is unique. It has been developed over time, iterating with clients in different markets to find the best possible outcomes. It is designed to make the process smooth and flexible for media agencies. It is designed to make the process effective and enjoyable for you.

And, for the first time ever, we’re revealing all of its secrets. Here goes…


1. The Preparation Phase

Getting this stage right sets the foundations for the entire process. Mistakes here can compound. But if you get things operating well early on, your pitch process is much more likely to be successful.

  • Pitch timeline. Most local media agency pitches take six months to complete. Our pitch timeline template and its supporting example guides you through the appropriate timings for each stage.

  • Pitch team. Everyone participating in the pitch must be clear on their responsibilities from the outset. We use the RACI matrix and supply a template to keep on top of all the details.

  • Pitch requirements. Managing expectations is key to a successful pitch, so take time to communicate internally what you are looking to achieve. Our needs assessment questionnaire helps you to define your pitch requirements.

  • Communication protocols. Rules of communication and what you will communicate, both internally and externally, should be set from the beginning. Our communication protocol template gives all the guidance you need.

  • Media agency contract template. Transparent and successful relationships between brands and agencies are built on well-thought-out contracts. Shape our supplied media agency contract template to match your needs and make sure it is ready before the agency shortlist phase.

  • Media agency long list. This is the first step in identifying the agencies most suited to your needs. We use COMvergence platform and reports for unbiased media agency intelligence.

  • Measurement criteria. Our measurement and scoring template helps you to define upfront how agencies will be assessed during the pitch process.

  • Agency commitment requirements. Defining the criteria you want your agency to commit to helps to ensure your prices, AVBs, and much more remain competitive throughout the length of the contract. 

  • Request for proposal. Your RFP should be detailed and comprehensive. Our template outlines every element to consider.


2. The Baseline Collection Phase

This is a sensitive stage. Take time not to rush any of these steps. 

  • Inform incumbent agencies. It is good practice to have a phone conversation explaining the rationale behind your decision.

  • Collect baseline information. We provide all the documents you need, including an email template, to gather baseline information from your incumbent agency.

  • Prepare media pricing exercises. Use your baseline information to prepare your media pricing exercises. This will help you assess which media agency is offering the best media prices and media quality to your business.

  • Send your written termination notice. This should be handled sensitively. 25% of pitches are won by the incumbent agency, so abide by termination clauses and do not burn bridges.


3. The Agency Shortlist Phase

After all your initial preparation work, this phase represents your first chance to set a great impression with agencies.

  • Send invitation letters. This should be both attractive and comprehensive. The quality of your invitation letter will impact the agencies who decide to take part. Our template will help.

  • Send and sign NDAs. Use our mutual NDA template and prepare a version for each longlisted media agency.

  • Send the media agency contract template. Our email template helps you to brief your longlisted agencies and secure written pre-approvals by your scheduled date. 

  • Define the media agency shortlist. By summarising, scoring, and collating your media agency feedback and comments into a single document, you’ll have clarity over which agencies to shortlist.


4. The RFP Phase

Expect agencies to go all out to get your attention and win your business. The excitement of potential new agreements will soon start to emerge. 

  • Send the RFP. As well as contacting your shortlisted agencies, you must also notify unsuccessful agencies. Our email templates ensure you get your message right.
  • Manage queries. Sending the RFP is likely to generate many questions from your shortlisted agencies. Our template helps you to aggregate all the incoming questions and prevents overwhelm among your internal team.
  • Attend chemistry meetings. Approach each meeting with a defined plan to help you get a feel for the people involved. Our agenda templates and scoring methodologies are useful tools.
  • Assess agency written submissions. Knowing how to extract the correct insights from supplied information is essential. We’ll analyse agency remuneration, cash AVBs, and media pricing, taking the challenge away from your team and simply providing comprehensive comparison reports for consideration.
  • Attend pitch presentation meetings. These sessions are essentially simulations of what it will be like working with each agency. Provide each agency with a set agenda and make sure they follow it.
  • Aggregate all scores. Our scoring methodology template gives you the information you need to assemble the average scores that inform the decision phase.

Read now >> Running a Media Agency Pitch: How To Produce A Quality RFP


5. The Decision Phase

Crunch time. In this phase, you’ll identify your new agency and seal the deal, setting the foundations for your media campaigns over the coming years.

  • Choosing the preferred agency. Refer back to your measurement criteria and collect all scorecards from every member of your pitch team. Aggregating those cards into a single document gives you clarity on which agency scores highest against your predetermined criteria.

  • Conduct negotiations. Use leverage from alternative offers to get the best possible deal from your chosen finalist agencies. Aim to conduct negotiations as close as possible to the final agency pitch presentation.

  • Sign contracts. Using the latest terms and conditions provided by your winning agency, it’s time to prepare and sign your media agency contract. This is almost the final stage of the process.

  • Communicate the decision to others. Our email template takes away the pain of figuring out how to communicate your choice to unsuccessful agencies. Try to provide all agencies with open and honest feedback.


6. The Onboarding Phase 

After running a successful media agency pitch, it’s time to get to work. We’ll show you how.

  • Prepare the media agency contract workshop. This will be a vital first piece of work with your new partner. Take time to define your goals and expectations before it starts.

  • Conduct the workshop. Agree on an agenda, stick to it, and give everyone ample opportunity to meet and forge relationships with the people with whom they will now be working.

  • Develop a media agency contract guidebook. This will shape all future interactions between your internal staff and your chosen agency.


Access the support you need

If you follow each of the steps above, you will have a world-class media agency pitch process. This is your shortcut to getting the best possible agency on board. It will help you find the right partner for your needs, maximise the effectiveness of your media spend, and help your brand grow – all crucial when you’re taking on the dominant players in your market.

Abintus has been running best-in-class media agency pitches for the world’s most ambitious brands. Book a free consultation today to discuss how we can help you run a media agency pitch process that leaves your competitors grasping in your shadow.

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