Pitching and winning business in COVID times

Pitching for, and winning new business is a great buzz. It brings the agency alive and there’s always a palpable sense of excitement when a new client and new projects are in the offing.

And just because COVID got in the way, that excitement hasn’t disappeared. It’s changed shape and location for sure – now being spread across multiple living rooms, spare rooms and kitchen tables serving as makeshift offices instead of contained in one office environment.

But while the chase part of new business activity is much the same, the contact part is considerably different.

So much of the success of the agency/client world is driven by good relationships and with physical face-to-face contact removed from the equation, things are different. And for an industry built largely on psychology, it’s easy to see why.

Video calls and video conferencing are great. That’s now indisputable. The way we do business has changed forever for the better. We don’t all need to be in one place at the same time for 40 hours a week – flexibility is the new watch word and good for business. About time, one might argue.

But even with the power of Teams and Zoom, striking up a relationship with new clients is tough. It takes more time to understand an individual’s subtleties, their nuances, how far you can take a joke without crossing a line. Getting a read on people is simply tougher when they’re on screen, rather than 4 feet away across a table.

But it’s not impossible. Since lockdown, we’ve won three new clients and have yet to meet one in person! We’ve got more opportunities bubbling away too and not one of those contacts has been to the agency, seen the whites of our eyes or shaken us by the hand.

Which is great, not just for Workshop, but for the marketing industry as a whole, because now it’s all about what marketers do, not what they say.

And while pre-COVID 2020 was not exactly a re-run of the boozy, hedonistic long lunches of the 1980s, there was still plenty of flannel and puff, which paints marketing agencies in a very bad light.

So now it’s all about substance and delivering on your promises and that can only be a good thing.   


By Toby Walker