We’ve been busy with big pitches – where agencies are selected through a competitive tendering process for upcoming projects. The client sends out a briefing to a number of agencies who then provide a concept and an offer for the planned event and present these to the stakeholder.

Ideally three agencies compete against each other and receive a presentation fee to cover the costs incurred (e.g. travel, visualisation and graphics etc.)

So far, so good.

Market power in the agency business is pretty much a one-sided affair, resting mainly on the client, making the pitch culture more extreme than ever. All too often we end up competing with up to eight agencies, despite the assurance that “We only ask a maximum of four…”.

Presentation fees are rather the exception than the rule, there being plenty of agencies who present their concepts for free). And so days are spent travelling throughout Germany at our own expense, with a bag-load of unpaid agency work, presenting concepts, bargaining with purchasing departments and hoping to get the contract. Only to wind up being told that the event has been cancelled (recent company cuts) or that your ideas have been taken on board by another agency (“we loved the venue you suggested so much that we will hold the event there…however not with you”).

If you can’t change the circumstances, change your attitude.

You need a good dose of optimism and composure (You win some you lose some…) to battle against the wind and not lose hope. Sometimes it’s when there appears to be no solution in sight that it becomes clear –  as so often in life: if you can’t change the circumstances, change your attitude. See every tender as a chance to grow because one thing is sure: regardless of how things turn out, you’ll have learnt something from it. Every pitch helps us to devise new concepts within real projects, to deepen our knowledge, to get to know new venues and service providers. We hone our presentation skills, meet decision-makers from a wide range of industries, delve into the mysteries of corporate structures. We become more creative (how can we deliver the same quality for a smaller budget?), have more empathy (telepathically feeling what the Board REALLY wants) and are simply more competitive. Who could wish for a better learning arena?