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Mr. Deutsch's candid talk advised agencies to hold the line on price, to put unwavering faith behind the pitched idea and not to accept anything but success.
"Failure is not an option," the Deutsch Inc. chairman said of his shop's philosophy. "We have the will and entitlement to win."
Among other things, he told attendees to avoid reviews that amount to huge cattle calls and to proceed cautiously with lists that include agencies of vastly different sizes and capabilities, which could be a red flag that the client isn't certain of what he or she wants out of the competition. Moreover, he told agencies to "never sell on price" and urged them in some instances to walk away from a review entirely.
"If you go past the first meeting [with a client]," Mr. Deutsch said, "and do not know within a small universe what the compensation is expected to be, you're a fool."
Mr. Deutsch said his agency proudly hires the best people and pays them very well, which should come into consideration in compensation issues. "There's only one reason we've been successful," he said. "It's the people, stupid."
Other tips he gave the audience included to look for "fresh triggers" that often precede a review, such as a poor earnings performance or new chief marketing officer at a client. He said a shop needs to "de-agency" itself in a pitch by focusing on the needs of the client rather than continually hawking its own accomplishments.
"Know your clients' passionate enemies," he suggested. "Do what's right for their business," by pitching the right idea and standing by it despite the temptation to offer several options.
Work as a seamless integrated team, said Mr. Deutsch, who added that some clients have characterized his agency as a "happy dysfunctional ethnic family" that "finishes each other's sentences." Make the presentation fun, but avoid silly tricks like turning the conference room into a restaurant for a fast-food pitch.
"If I was looking to hire an investment banker and they turned their conference room into an agency, I would leave," he said.