Following on from our previous blog post in which we outlined our reasons for saying no to creative pitching (read it here), we felt it was also important to provide an example of how our new policy has worked in practice. Since putting into play our new stance we’ve both won and lost work, but the clients we have gained in the process are ones of true value.
One client in particular, Courtney Thorne, was intrigued by our honest approach and as a result our relationship with them has continued to go from strength to strength since they commissioned our branding expertise. It’s a client-agency relationship built on communication and trust and we are proud to say that our high standards have continued to shine throughout our work for Courtney Thorne. As a result, their sales have skyrocketed.
Let’s go back to the beginning, to when we received the brief……
It has been approximately a year since CuCo received the first brief from Courtney Thorne, a UK-based supplier of care technology. The company were looking for an agency to refresh their internal and external communications, and re-evaluate their marketing strategy. Courtney Thorne presented us, and three other agencies, with their existing literature and an in-depth brief outlining their key marketing requirements.
Courtney Thorne were steadily growing, expanding, and in the midst of launching new products, they were looking to increase their revenue by 500% within 5 years, as well as become the leading supplier of care technology in the UK. Ultimately, the brand was looking to move away from their reputation as a small family business who supplied to independent care homes, and transform into an innovative health care tech company and the UK’s leading supplier of nurse call technology to the NHS and private nurse care groups.
The brief outlined Courtney Thorne’s requirements in a three stage plan. Phase one was to develop a new brand with an accompanying brand guidelines document that would enable staff to have a handbook to work from, as well as to believe in their brand and be able to convey it with passion. It was important to the Directors to maintain the family business values that were in place, but transform the dated look into a fresh, unique and modern brand. The detailed brief also asked for logo concepts to be included in all responses.
The second stage was to roll out the newly established brand look across sales collateral, exhibition and banner stands along with printed marketing literature including the development of an all-encompassing accessories brochure, showcasing Courtney Thorne’s latest array of technology products. Lastly, phase three of the brief included the production of a direct mail piece, environmental signage and livery featuring the newly established brand.
Being a ‘no pitch’ agency instantly makes you different from 95% of your competitors – you are mustard – everyone else is mayonnaise. It marks you out as confident in your abilities, and crucially, it gives you a chance to explain to a prospective client why you don’t pitch and how you work. After all as Don Draper says: “If you don’t like what is being said, change the conversation.”
Our response to the brief…
The CuCo team developed a Branding and Marketing Proposal outlining how we would tackle Courtney Thorne’s requirements. Although we developed our proposal in as much detail as possible, our agency’s ethos says we do not pitch our design work for free, i.e. supplying the requested logo concepts. This is not because we felt lazy that day, or wanted to make our 6pm Bikram yoga class or even because we ran out of time, but rather because we stick to our ‘no pitch’ policy no matter the client or requirement. With other agencies likely to provide logo visuals on request and therefore perhaps be deemed better marketing partners by Courtney Thorne themselves, this is the chance we are prepared to take with our approach towards pitches. We carefully explained in our Proposal that as the logo would play such a pivotal role in the rebrand and the new Courtney Thorne, it was essential it was designed by a marketing partner who truly understood the brand. It was evident that at this stage, we were not in this position. None of the agencies involved were. We ensured however, that this decision was made from the sincere care and respect we had for their brand.
Another major part of Courtney’s Thorne brief explained that the business was looking to change their brand name from ‘Courtney Thorne’ to ‘CT’ across all offline materials and digital platforms, so as to portray themselves as a more modern, competitive and technological brand. At CuCo, we believe strongly in providing a totally honest and transparent approach to every single one of our clients, ensuring we provide them with only our best solution. We work from experience and will always tell our clients if we think there is a more effective way to achieve your end goal. Our proposal for Courtney Thorne outlined our belief that completely transforming the company name to ‘CT’ and leaving behind ‘Courtney Thorne’ so quickly and dramatically whilst the creative look was only changing, may confuse or even alienate existing clientele. We instead suggested sticking with ‘Courtney Thorne’ in the main branded look, and rolling out ‘CT’ more gradually. Although challenging a Marketing Manager’s brief is a risky operation, we strive to provide our best work and best solution for clients at all times.
Courtney Thorne’s response to our Proposal…
Courtney Thorne chose CuCo as their marketing agency over all other agencies involved in the process. They praised our proposal, saying it was ‘engaging, challenging and massively stood out from the rest’. They appreciated our honesty in saying we didn’t know them yet, and noted that this showed how much CuCo care for their clients. They even took note of our suggestion regarding rolling out ‘CT’ slowly, saying that it again showed commitment and sincere care for our work and for their brand. They believed that our attention to detail in our proposal laid the ground work for a great working relationship. They were right.
Following several brand workshops for employees at all levels of the organisation and a large research project into their market, CuCo developed a totally new brand and in-depth brand guidelines for Courtney Thorne, that have not only improved staff morale and understanding, but also propelled Courtney Thorne into the key players in the market – who also began taking note of the fresh brand. Once we could see that Courtney Thorne were extremely satisfied and overwhelmed with the success of the new brand look, CuCo then went on to produce a comprehensive accessories brochure, a direct mailer, sales materials, on-site signage and a fully-responsive website powered by our preferred CMS, WordPress.
As a direct result of their partnership with CuCo, Courtney Thorne saw a rapid increase in sales figures. Inbound sales particularly soared as customers became more aware of the range the company had to offer. Our direct mail campaign generated an immediate five figure return on their investment and the business have moved to a new custom-specified office, combining its headquarters with extensive research and development capabilities and a dedicated training facility.
Fast forward to today and Courtney Thorne are now one of our most valued and communicative clients, and our team continue to enthusiastically work hard to produce our very best work for them. Our gamble of not pitching free creatives against other agencies based on a beauty-style design contest ultimately won us Courtney Thorne’s trust – and the Account.
It is our sincere hope that others in our industry will follow suit – our relationship with Courtney Thorne and other clients is evidence that it IS possible to take a no pitching stance and remain extremely successful in what we do.