You are not in competition with your agency/consultancy/marketing support. Having been on both sides of the client/“vendor” fence, I have often seen the interaction and, not to throw stones, on occasion participated in this “I know more or something you don’t know” dance.
We just experienced it in a new biz pitch and it just isn’t helpful for a client to do oneupmanship or to withhold the valuable insights in order to create a superior position. We’re a small agency and we can’t always insist that BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timing) stakeholders attend pitches or every client meeting. But we go in good faith because that’s our value system and we want to believe it’s most clients’ value system.
The lack of transparency and posturing wastes valuable time on both sides since it obscures the reason for bringing an agency in: the need to solve a business, not an ego, problem (though they may end up being related). Most importantly, marketing consultants need to get aligned with their clients so that they can offer real advice, real solutions. This seem to be a even bigger issue when technology or paid media is involved.
A lot like the chicken or the egg, in our most recent pitch, the potential client was reluctant to provide an allocated budget figure for the project in the fear that miraculously, the recommend plan would be exactly that budget. But without realistic business or budget goals, media or most work will come in on the high side because with the vague brief, it forces an “ideal scenario” pricing—what the consultancy would suggest in it’s best case solution to a problem it is guessing at.
In our recent proposal, we tried to steer a middle course between what we gathered from research, the technology solution that was low hanging fruit, and marketing tactics which we felt would be effective but which we couldn’t do in house. Not surprisingly, we were told that our paid technology budget was too high.
But on the upside, the client liked that we’d provided ideas that he could execute with his internal team or another group. After seeing too many train wrecks when agencies pitch solutions that they don’t know how to deliver, we’ve decided to just be upfront and say we don’t do that stuff or we can manage another group for you instead.
As for the pitch, we’ll see whether we end up with a client or just good will.
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