Why The Specialist Works won’t be doing any competitive pitching in Q4

Why The Specialist Works won’t be doing any competitive pitching in Q4

Our business is our people. They are our greatest asset, and if we’ve learnt anything during the past 18 months, it’s essential to take care of our people. That means putting their physical and mental well-being above all else

Together we’ve weathered the storm, and while there may still be some choppy waters ahead, we can unite in the pleasure of seeing clients coming back to the market with a vengeance, even hungrier than before.

The temptation could be to chase every ad dollar to claw back some of what was lost in the lean pandemic months. But for our people and our clients, in my view, this would be wrong.

Many of us are still processing the last 18 months of working life and the massive upheaval that came with it.

Throughout the business world, workers still face job uncertainty and the repercussions of furlough and redundancy; those that continued to work throughout the pandemic still contend with limited resources, longer working hours and continued high pressure. We’re not out of the woods yet.

This is why it remains fundamentally important for us to do everything to protect employee well-being and maintain happy clients.

It’s why – in the notoriously busy Q4 period – The Specialist Works and its international media and production sister agency, Hubble is putting our people and clients first and saying “no” to competitive pitching.

Engaging in competitive pitching is the most time-consuming way for agencies to win clients and for clients to choose agencies. It takes focus away from the real work of satisfying customers and growing profitable revenue.

In the current environment, it’s a guaranteed recipe to increased team stress and risks fuelling a mental health crisis we’ve been so desperate to prevent.

We’d rather focus on hiring brilliant talent, onboarding them successfully (remotely still in most cases) and building out our capabilities by committing this most precious resource – time – to the learning and development of our people.

While others will be burning the midnight oil to finalise the competitive pitch jazz hands experience, we’re putting a cohort of rising stars through a future leaders programme and a dozen senior client leaders through Marketing Week’s Mini MBA with Mark Ritson.

We feel both commitments are more valuable in supporting the well-being of our people – and the professionalism of our industry – while we continue to recover from the pandemic.

Plus, it’s also more beneficial for our clients. Staff happiness is reflected in client work, and we’d never want to win new business at the expense of our existing clients.

It also makes sense to continue offering outstanding service, so we’re recommended to new prospects, which alleviates the need for competitive pitching. Most of our new wins this year have come through happy clients and partners referring us in without a pitch.

Of course, we’re not closing our doors to new business. We’re very open to working with growth marketers at dynamic brands who choose not to run pitch processes, preferring to do test campaigns with a specialist partner often recommended by their peers. 

In an industry filled with scepticism, going public with our decision means staying true to our word.

Q4 started on 1 October and it’s forecast to be our best yet, so we hope our decision will prompt other agencies and clients to reconsider the value of the competitive pitch in a post-pandemic world.

Verity Brown is managing director of The Specialist Works, part of What’s Possible Group

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