Agency credentials. In six minutes (or less).

If you’re a client asking for an agency credentials presentation with a view to finding a new agency, chances are you’ll be setting aside 60 – 90 minutes for half a dozen agency meetings – a good couple of days worth of time for everyone on your team who’ll be attending.

Well, what if we said you could do the same exercise – including questions – in less than 90 minutes, and likely get an exponentially sharper presentation in the process?

Enter PechaKucha – the Japanese word for ‘chit chat’ – which offers audiences a slide show of 20 images each advancing automatically after 20 seconds, delivering a complete story in just 6 minutes.

Agency credentials in 6 minutes? Really?

Well, last week WPP Canada put PechaKucha to the test asking nine of its agencies to present to an invited audience of agency peers, clients and search consultants.   As if that weren’t nerve-racking enough, participating agencies were critiqued – live – on stage by a panel of clients and search consultants which included yours truly.

Arthur Fleischmann, Country Manager for WPP here in Canada set everything up as follows: “We wanted to find a way to make capabilities meetings more productive for the client. When the agency talks about itself for 60 minutes, it’s like a bad date. Boring and unmemorable.  What if we could do it in 6 minutes and use the rest of the time to explore client challenges and opportunities? Now that would be productive, and creative.

The results were eye-poppingly impressive with nine, razor-sharp presentations – all delivered within the allotted six-minute time window.  Here’s what we learned:

  1. Six minutes focuses the mind, the story and the delivery.  Sure, there may be questions on specifics, but yes, agencies can tell their story in six minutes
  2. Audiences are likely more focused on your key messages because there isn’t time for minds to wander 
  3. To deliver a story effectively, agencies need to come up with a clear narrative to hold their story together and create memorable presentations
  4. Generic, universal truths don’t cut it in the allotted six minutes – presenters have to be more relevant to their audience and client’s business issues
  5. Try and share something unique with your audience and if possible, teach the something new (or at least relevant)
  6. As always, being authentic and human stands out.  In other words, when presenting – be yourself
  7. Telling your story in just six minutes relies on visual storytelling as much as a cohesive narrative
  8. We were lucky enough to see a good mix of Brand, Multicultural, Media, Design, PR and Production presentations.  Six minutes was tougher for Media and Production than others – in large part because the content was more complex to share
  9. Creating an emotional connection with your audiences will always leave a stronger impression
  10. Clients (from what I saw) loved the brevity and the focus

From a client perspective, Tammy Sadinsky, SVP Brand and Marketing at SVP says: “Telling your story, no matter the message, in a way that engages the audience and leaves for a clear shorthand and takeaway is a muscle both agencies and clients should nurture! As a judge, it was a privilege to be able to share candid ‘client-POV’ feedback outside of a formal process to help the agencies perfect their pitch.

Fellow judges and WPP agency teams

Kudos to Arthur and the WPP team for pulling this insightful evening and helping open our eyes to streamlined way of presenting.  My thanks also to fellow judges Emma Eriksson – VP Marketing and Wellbeing, at Kellogg Canada, Tammy Sadinsky – SVP Brand and Marketing at CIBC, Eva Salem –  SVP Marketing and Brand at Canadian Tire, Sandra Sanderson – SVP Marketing at Sobeys, and fellow search consultant, Mike Fyshe.

And finally…

Will we be trying PechaKucha in future credentials presentations? While we may not be prescriptive in mandating PechaKucha per-se, the idea of a credentials presentation in under ten minutes is something we’ll definitely be exploring with clients who are ready and have a good understanding of the kind of agency they’re looking for.

Stephan Argent is Founder and Principal at Listenmore Inc offering confidential advisory to marketers looking for truly independent insight and advice they can’t find anywhere else. Read more like this on our blog Marketing Unscrewed 

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