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Pitch, please!

Author: Rozanne vd Merwe

"Mmm... why don't I believe it?"

As a mother of two very outspoken and rational children, I often find negotiating with them more challenging than any of my team or clients. I continually emphasize to them the importance of persevering through subjects they may not enjoy in school, even if they don’t see the immediate relevance. Yet, the inevitable reply persists: “But why, Mom?” To which I always respond with the resolute mantra: “It’s part of life.”

 

Fair to say, I can’t help but resonate with my 9 and 11-year-olds when it comes to the tender process, or as we call it, pitching. The practice of putting advertising accounts out for tender by government institutions for transparency and fairness, and even within private companies to evaluate agencies, is understandable.

 

However, the exhaustive documents and submissions that advertising agencies must navigate to achieve an arbitrary technical score, unregulated by any governing body in our country, can feel like a bit of a sham.


Allow me to illustrate how it unfolds:

 

  1. Obtain the terms of reference for the tender at a cost.

  2. Assemble a team of at least three individuals, depending on client requirements.

  3. Dive into the abyss of technical legal jargon, hoping not to unwittingly surrender our souls.

  4. Devise methodologies to demonstrate our capabilities.

  5. Ensure all company documentation is up to date.

  6. Condense our expertise into a concise document of up to 100 pages to prove our capability and suitability for the job.

  7. Submit within an unreasonable timeframe, as time is never on our side.


"Let's rather have tea."

While I understand that agencies must adhere to certain norms when tendering for an account, the real challenge lies in the pitching process. Advertising agencies expose our intellectual property free of charge and endure waiting periods of up to six months for outcomes, all while being expected to turn around jobs in mere weeks.

 In conclusion, I propose that all advertising agencies shortlisted for consideration receive compensation (% of approved marketing budget), irrespective of whether they secure the account or not. It’s a matter of fairness and respect for the time, effort, and sometimes expenses we invest.

 

In the ever-evolving landscape of advertising, creativity remains the currency, and ethical considerations should be paramount. Yet, we have all come to accept that this is part of life, so get on with it?

 

To all marketing managers, brand managers, corporate communication managers, and procurement departments of Namibia, please take the following tips into consideration when you are putting your brand on pitch:

  1. Prioritize thorough research before shortlisting advertising agencies.

  2. Compare apples with apples. Ensure fair comparisons by considering factors like agency experience and size, which ultimately sets agency hourly rate.

  3. Request references and evaluate agency track records. If an agency has been managing an advertising account for 15 years, they must have done something right, right?

  4. Align your brand needs with agencies' industry experience before extending invitations.

  5. Pre-approve your marketing budget before initiating the tender process to streamline the agency's efforts.

  6. Acknowledge the need for multiple presentations to discern your needs and compensate agencies accordingly.

  7. Moreover, while supporting local businesses is commendable, it's worth noting the preference of some big companies in Namibia, for South African agencies based on their experience, not their local knowledge. This presents a discrepancy if we all fight for “local is lekker”.

 

Ultimately, the success of your business hinges on factors like product sales, increased consumption, leads, conversions, acquisitions, and sign-ups. Choose your agency wisely and invest without hesitation for optimal results from the outset.

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