How To Create The Perfect Agency Pitch Scorecard

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We’re often asked by marketers to help develop scorecards for their evaluation teams to use during agency presentations. If developed and managed properly, scorecards can serve as invaluable tools in a search process and can help those evaluating:

  • Define a meaningful check-list for the things that are really important in your agency search process and remind everyone what attributes you’re evaluating.
  • Break questions and presentations into distinct areas – even if the structure of presentations varies from your expectations.
  • Create a written record of strengths, weaknesses and points of differentiation that you can refer back to during evaluation meetings and post pitch feedback discussions.
  • Eliminate any preconceptions any members of your team may have had prior to presentations about specific agencies based on previous experience or hearsay.
  • Keep discussions less emotional and more rational (more on this shortly…)

But while all that sounds enticing, scorecards need to be carefully developed to ensure they reflect your true evaluation criteria and are reliant on the marketer’s ability to follow some basic principles when using them.

Here are five worth considering:

If it’s all about chemistry – don’t bother

If your ultimate choice is going to be around which agency your team gets along with best – then be clear about at that up front. There are limitations to any scorecard system and choices around “feeling good” about individuals is one of them. But be honest if your ultimate decision is going to be more emotional than quantifiable and dispense with the scorecard system. In these situations you may want to consider a different pitch process that’s more tailored to your needs.

Make it quantifiable

Particularly in situations when you’re evaluating strategic or creative pitches, ensure you’ve defined what aspects of strategy or creativity you’re looking it – and most important, ensure your team knows specifically what to look for and what they’re evaluating during the process.

1 – 10 if you must

Personally, I’m not a fan of scorecards that use 1 – 10 ratings because it can create artificial swings in evaluations as individuals tend to score differently. 1 – 10 methodologies need to be well defined and a good starting point for this is as follows:

  • 1 – 2 did not answer the question or provided incorrect information
  • 3 – 4 sub-standard and did not answer the issues satisfactorily
  • 5 – 6 just answered the brief
  • 7 – 8 answered the brief compellingly and of an acceptable high standard
  • 9 – 10 strong answer and clearly ahead of others.

1 – 5 is better

In our experience the 1 – 5 method works better as it narrows the criteria when using the following scale:

  • 1 – Unsatisfactory
  • 2 – Sub-standard
  • 3 – Satisfactory
  • 4 – Good / better than average
  • 5 – Excellent

Make room for comments

Scorecards tell part of the story but – particularly during discussions or feedback – you want to be able refer back to specific comments to understand why something was evaluated the way it was. This can be particularly useful when comparing scores from different groups within your own organization as someone in procurement for example, may score very differently from someone dedicated to your marketing team and it’s important to understand score variances.

Whatever methodology you choose, make sure it’s fair and transparent and something your whole team knows how to use to help find the best agency for your needs.

Better yet, call your friendly agency search consultant to help guide you through the process.


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 / follow me @StephanArgent


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