Commentary

How The Pandemic Is Affecting The New Business Pipeline

The COVID-19 crisis has put a substantial crimp in this year’s new business pipeline, according to a survey released today by media and marketing consultant ID Comms.

The survey found over two-thirds (69%) of agency executives report that pitches they’ve been working on have been delayed, postponed or cancelled because of COVID-19.

The survey was conducted March 19-27 and polled 81 agency CEOs and new business leaders accounting for 80% of global ad spend.

But more than half of those surveyed — 57% — said their agencies could respond to most pitch proposals in the current remote working environment. Just 8% called for all new business activity to be put on hold.

For pitches that do continue or are set to launch, ID Comms recommends a two-week “pause” to re-plan and adjust to the work-from-home environment the industry is now locked into.

“Typically, the decision to activate an agency pitch isn’t a decision that is taken in isolation,” the consultant states in its report. “It is usually part of larger changes in the marketing organization or marketing approach. So when the pitch happens, it is part of a bigger timeline of change and cannot necessarily be delayed a year.”

While agencies are generally positive about their ability and readiness to manage new business briefs during the pandemic, ID Comms stated that “pitch conditions must not exploit any agency vulnerabilities or be unfair to the limitations of remote working.”

Though agencies are “open for business” on the pitch front, they will be more selective. Pitches that are focused on price are likely to be rejected.

“Agencies are amazingly agile and resilient, and agency CEOs are working incredibly hard right now to provide clients with the strategic advice and support they need,” said Tom Denford, ID Comms’ CEO North America. The survey, he adds, shows “how agencies are embracing business as usual via remote working. However advertisers must be sensitive to the new reality and those who need to review must adapt their processes to get the best out of agencies.”

More from the survey and a set of guidelines the firm has devised for brands reviewing or planning a pitch can be accessed here.

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