I used to run a boutique PR agency and have worked with many other agencies – PR, marketing, digital, SEO etc etc over the years, so it’s a sector I know well. One truth I have come to understand is that there are very few agencies who do anything dramatically different to their direct competitors. For instance, no PR agency can go into a pitch presentation and claim to have access to a Sunday newspaper that no other agency can reach or to know journalists or influencers that no one else knows. At the end of the day, all PR agencies specialising in a certain sector do pretty much the same thing and offer pretty much the same results. Yes, some may be more effective than others, but ultimately it’s very hard for a potential client to differentiate between them. That’s not just true for PR agencies, either. Do you have an SEO method that NO ONE else uses?
I’ve sat in meeting rooms with a number of companies who have asked me to help them in selecting an agency and sat through/endured normally 3 or 4 presentations from agencies who have done nothing to help those prospective clients to differentiate between them and their co-pitchers.
Every agency has presented a slide deck that looks remarkably similar. A slide of logos of previous clients, awards won/paid for, examples of previous work. Every agency has put forward a small team who enthuse about how creative they are – while demonstrating they are anything but.
Every now and again an agency delivers a pitch that truly differentiates them – not necessarily in the results they’ll achieve but in the way it will feel to work with them, an emotional journey of what those results will feel like for the individuals in the room and the client as a whole. It’s a joy to be able to work with agencies to help them to do this. It takes courage to stand out from the crowd but my god it can pay dividends.
It’s why I work with agencies to help them differentiate. It’s often not about what you say but about how you say it. For example, why not ditch slides and find other ways to give the client an experience and a taste of what it would be like to work with you? Who says a pitch has to be a static presentation with slides? Surprise the prospective client. Excite them. Discomfort them, even – if that’s what your brand promises.
Even in some of less ‘creative’ sectors (I’m looking at you here, financial services) where clients are probably seeking reassurance and a ‘safe pair of hands’ rather than a maverick approach, you can make your agency stand out by taking a different approach to the pitch – contents, slides and delivery – to prove that you’ll also take a different approach to delivering results. Safe pair of hands doesn’t have to mean dull.
How does your agency differentiate itself? Do you live the values of creativity or do you play it safe and basically do the same pitch time after time? How could you set yourself apart – or are you happy to just be like everyone else?