HOLLYWOOD, FL: 360i, the agency, believes that “no-pitch” ways of trying out potential client–agency relationships could help establish more effective partnerships.

Sarah Hofstetter, chairwoman of 360i, discussed this subject at the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) 2018 Advertising Financial Management conference.

And she reported that one step towards a smarter, more productive partnership between clients and agencies is grounded in what 360i calls “no-pitch” wins.

“It’s not because there’s no pitch involved,” she explained. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: Agency 360i to marketers: Partnership is more than procurement.)

“And it’s not because you don’t have a lot of work to do. But it’s about starting by talking at the table, instead of starting with [something] like a first date where you’re not even buying each other a drink.”

The process begins with three questions posed to the brand manager: “What are you trying to do?”, “What are the most important issues for you?” and “What does 12 months down the line look like for you?”

And the next steps may involve the kind of speculative work that many agencies find cumbersome if they do not approach it in the right frame of mind.

But, Hofstetter told the ANA assembly, “at least you’re operating under the understanding of what a business partnership looks like”.

Both parties sign mutual non-disclosure agreements, with the agency walking away with an understanding of the client’s “biggest pain points” and the advertising fine-tuning what it wants to see from the agency.

If the fit seems to work, 360i encourages the brand to do a reference check: “Call the CMO in another company that works with the agency and ask, ‘What are they like to deal with? What are the skeletons in the closet?’”

For Hofstetter, the “no-pitch” win has become more practice than theory: “In the first half of this year, we’ve done more of this kind of work than anything else.”

Sourced from WARC