2022, is this the year of the workshop pitch?

January 5, 2022
Workshop: a meeting at which a group of people engage in intensive discussion and activity on a particular subject or project.

2022 will be the year of the workshop pitch.

With Zoom pitches dominating recent years, the workshop pitch hasn’t had a fair whack of proving that ‘workshopping’ a business challenge should be the preferred way for agencies and brands to work out best fit, right skillset and the power of thinking through a problem.

But the optimist in me says it’s all going to change (Covid permitting) and this year will see a shift and a new era of pitch appear.

Why? Because it needs to.

Not just because pitches are expensive for both parties but because business relationships can always be built better and as human beings, we strive to improve things.

Some forward-thinking intermediaries like Ingenuity are already recommending and hosting workshops with brands but workshop pitches won’t suit all – we, as humans marvel at improvement but shy away from change.

So, which type of agency / client will move their pitch process on in 2022? Here are my musings.

The collaborative one: It stands to reason that for any brand or agency that talk about their collaborative approach or values that they should be formally considering, scoping out and offering a workshop style pitch, otherwise they can’t really claim to be collaborative.

The brave one: Those teams that aren’t afraid – the brave! A pitch workshop doesn’t leave a place for anyone to hide, no matter what level. Senior to junior and that creates a more equal playing field across perceived levels and hierarchy as well as the greatest trust in a team.

The nurturing one: To add to the former point, a pitch workshop gives an opportunity for agencies and clients to look at things anew, without being tainted by preconditioned ideas of how a pitch is delivered. The most exciting part is for those new to the industry who haven’t had all the in-person pitch opportunities over recent years, they have a big part to play in helping define an agency ‘workshop style’.

The confident one: Those agencies that are a bit more ‘real’ – because a workshop is revealing. It takes away what the agency is trying to sell themselves as (you need to feel confident in the process of a workshop to ensure it flows), it reduces jargon and the amount of times ‘underpinned’ is used (hopefully!) and it can reveal what the client is really after – sometimes solidifying what they want, other times uncovering what they really want.      

The one listening: If the workshop has a flow, people can contribute, agencies can showcase themselves in a real way and the process is a collaborative one then, everyone has been actively listening. When this happens it’s incredible. But when these pieces of the puzzle don't come together, the session is flat and it’s acknowledged, it’s also gold. To be able to know when something isn’t gelling and being able to say so and reach a mutual understanding of this, is priceless for any agency and brand looking to understand the 'fit'.  

Finally, a pitch workshop opens up the option to look at how we measure our agency / client partnerships. There’s been talk those pitches won via Zoom won’t necessarily last. Pitch workshops can let us reassess the nature of our working relationships from the start, allowing us to assess longevity, the quality and functioning dynamic of the partnership and this is a huge opportunity for us to be more informed.

So a new year often means new intentions, but does this stretch to rethinking how you pitch? Only time will tell.