Sunday Dinner's Lindsey Slaby on what small agencies get wrong in pitches
All agencies, especially those that are on the smaller side, know the pain of feeling like they nailed a pitch meeting and then not winning the business.
Lindsey Slaby, founder of the brand consultancy Sunday Dinner, was at the Ad Age Small Agency Conference on Wednesday—and is the most recent guest on the "Ad Lib" podcast. Slaby, who has clients including Diego, Target and Nickelodeon, discusses where things typically go wrong for agencies in those pitches, what brands are really looking for that they may not be relaying to their agency partners, and how to avoid mishaps.
Slaby advised, first and foremost, to not bring in a CEO on a pitch if that CEO is not going to be working actively on the business.
“I had to actually pull someone out of that a couple weeks ago,” Slaby said at the conference in New Orleans. “They were like ‘our CEO is new and he’s great and he’s going to come to the final meeting.’”
She told them “he might as well not come” if he’s not going to be active on the business, and the client agreed.
Slaby also mentioned that agencies sometimes get so focused on the idea they’re pitching that they forget to answer the questions around how they are truly going to partner with a brand to service their business.
“These things matter: your past work, your creative taste, your ideas, the work that you pitch,” she said. “They’re important but they’re often not the deciding factor.”
Slaby said that, behind the scenes, brands tend to discuss what happens if the “star” talent on their account leaves the agency; if the agency is small, how is it going to make up for it to service the business (because hiring freelancers is all fine and dandy, but brands want to know who the freelancers are and what exactly they will be doing); if the agency is growing “too fast”; how many other clients the agency has; how much money is in the bank; and how responsive is the team that’s going to be servicing the account.
Slaby said another concern focuses on whether the agency will put itself or the client first, and if the team is only going the work to win awards.
“How you sell yourself as an agency shows how you can sell,” Slaby noted. “Tell the story of your offering and bring people along the journey in understanding how they might work with you.”