1. Great expectations
Pitching is time-intensive, expensive and for Madison Byrne, marketing manager of ID Experiential, tougher than ever before. She explains: "If I’m honest, it’s got tougher. Twenty years ago, we would sell an idea and the client would be excited. Today, there are so many other elements that must be considered, such as social media and technology. In-depth research is needed too. Agencies must really understand a brand to win the business and you have to show the client how the experiential campaign will work."
Kim Myhre, senior vice president of FreemanXP, agrees: "Brands are expecting more from their agency than ever before. Winning pitches are based on significant insight into the brand and it’s target audience. This insight is crafted into an experience that is designed to achieve the brand’s objectives. The new breed of experience marketing agencies recognise that there is more to a winning brand experience than event logistics, but will instead look to all relevant touchpoints both live and online and across the entire portfolio to create client success."
2. Brand ‘consultants’
Gone are the days of the ‘classic’ brief that provides a specification, now clients are demanding a more consultative approach, as Michael Brown, managing director of PS Live, admits: "Briefs are far more open, looking at a brand’s objectives rather than a specification. They are looking for insight and a creative consultant approach."
It has been a similar experience for RPM managing director Dom Robertson. "The pitch process has changed – the questions are broader, and often the answer is multi-channel with some level of integration. There are still classic brand experience briefs out there, but they’re not as commonplace. We’re being presented with the company’s marketing challenge and asked to recommend solutions."
3. Group pitching
More and more brand experience agencies are finding that brands are looking for a collaborative approach from all their agencies for the good of the brand. Brown explains: "Increasingly, we will go into a pitch with a group of agencies. The client will give you a group brief and you will come back with all of your logos together along the bottom. No one is given the credit for individual elements, it’s seen as a group of agencies that are responding for the good of the brand.
"Clients want to see how the brand experience will integrate with the rest of the campaign and what effect it will have on ROI. We will not be measured on our own. It is being measured as part of an overall campaign."
Shorter lead times have been described as the ‘new normal’ for a few years now, but it continues to be one of the biggest challenges. And Matt Margetson, creative director at Smyle, insists it is getting worse. "There has been a shift in terms of turnaround time. People want everything yesterday, and when you look at the stats on it, lead times are definitely getting shorter. I know that’s been a trend for a while, but we’re getting clients asking to turn things around in days. It is because of the velocity of events and experiences. It’s getting quicker and quicker, especially in the B2C market, and telco’s are a great example of this. They are launching something every other week, therefore the ideas have to be behind it do that."
The days of Powerpoint presentations are over and many agencies are strong believers in ‘pitch theatre’ to bring the creative of a campaign to life. Kevin Jackson, vice-president of business development at George P Johnson, says the agency has used everything from "key fobs containing the pitch presentation to laser pens, which when you shine them on a wall it comes up with our ideas. We have also used 3D printing instead of flat 2D drawings to give some context to exhibition stand concepts, as well as projection mapping to give a client an idea of how an event would look."
Event's Brand Experience Report 2014
Event's first Brand Experience Report 2014, in association with Vivid Interface, provides an in-depth analysis into the world of experiential, with analysis on the pitch process, budgets, lead times, payment terms, recruitment and event associations.
To download Event's table of experiential agencies click here.
The full report will be available to download in the next month.
Reports published so far are:
Brand Experience Report 2014: Experiential's place in the marketing mix
Brand Experience Report 2014: The rise of PR stunts
Brand Experience Report 2014: Five technology and social media trends