What clients think of consultancies: Stand out, perform and deliver

What clients think of consultancies: Stand out, perform and deliver

A new piece of research has revealed that most clients find it difficult to differentiate between consultancies, and wouldn’t expect to pay for a creative pitch.

Here at It Starts we’re a pretty confident bunch, so we never charge for our pitches. For us it’s a golden opportunity to prove to a prospective client that we have a special idea, which we’d love to develop with them.

Research group, Up To The Light, has worked with design consultancies, which in turn have conducted 435 interviews with design buyers.

The research revealed that the average client is receiving 14 new business approaches everyday and 96% view the UK design industry as being highly competitive.


91% of Clients “hate” cold calls

New business cold calls are “hated” by 91% of clients, and over half said that the most effective way to reach them was a letter, which would have more impact than an email or call. We totally agree. Yes we’re new, fresh and innovative, but who doesn’t like receiving a letter (as long as it’s not a bill that is)? With every individual letter we send to our prospective clients, we also include our introductory mailer, which highlights our strengths and areas of expertise. If you would like one of our mailers sent out to you, simply fill out the attached form – go on, it’s a good read.

Good chemistry was cited as the main reason that consultancies were most likely to win a pitch, followed by the best creative approach and delivery. Client­-consultancy chemistry is thought to be currently “very good” by 79% of clients. That’s something that can only be maintained if you regularly deliver new ideas, without becoming stale.


What to avoid

Some 73% of clients say that it is hard to differentiate between consultancies, particularly small and medium sized ones, which clients say are “largely interchangeable”. Our down-to-earth attitude, help us be more than just a commodity to our clients, and in many cases it’s like we’re an extension of their own team. We like to think our four-step process enables our clients to understand how we can work and helps them to take their brand/product to the next level.

For clients to be won over by a consultancy they want to know about its “core competency” – what it’s best at, and also how it’s different. While 66% of those surveyed believe consultancy case studies lack business context, 62% say new business presentations feel generic.

To avoid falling into this category, design groups need to target specific business challenges with case studies and avoid off­-the-­shelf pitches. All our pitches and presentations for work are always unique, and we make it clear we do not recycle or reuse previous presentations or concepts.


What Clients Want

The most important client expectations are that work is delivered on time and on budget, followed by producing consistently high quality work. We make sure that every project, regardless of scale, has a time plan and costing table associated with it, so that everyone is aware of deliverables and costs upfront.

Some 84% of clients who say they have had a strained relationship with their consultancy put this down to client services issues rather than the quality of creative ideas coming out of a studio. This is one of the fundamental reasons we started It Starts. George and I both feel that very few agencies are built on trust and respect. We’re doing everything we can to change that, one project at a time.

Cross-­consultancy collaboration is increasingly necessary. As of now, 52% of clients are saying that this does not happen as effectively as it should.

Personality clashes, lack of communication and unnecessary competition where skills overlap, are cited as common collaboration issues.

There has been a large amount of positive feedback from clients, notably that 86% look forward to meeting with designers and that 83% of clients believe the standard of the UK design industry to be “very high”.


”They don’t challenge us”

However, 73% of clients want to reduce consultancy costs, which they believe can be achieved by “working more efficiently”. This is something a lot of agencies struggle to master. Time tables and costings should be managed and updated throughout any project, and we make sure our clients are happy throughout the entire process.

Although 75% of clients say they would recommend their consultancy to others, they would do this “with caveats”.

Clients also spilled the beans on why relationships with consultancies came to an end. Top of the pile was “They don’t challenge us,” followed by “They’re not listening to us” and “Our market is changing.” We like to feel our four-step process is a complete cycle. We make sure through a/b testing on the web and display advertising, that our client’s business is always getting noticed and not left behind. If you would like to find out how we can help your business and what separates us from our competition please see our ‘what we do’ section.

What we do