Inside the Mind of an Intermediary: Understanding their role, and winning strategies

Intermediaries play a crucial but often misunderstood role.

Working with agencies to support their pitching process might seem like the primary interaction point, it’s actually the tip of the ‘intermediary iceberg’, constituting a mere 30% of their work – while their work with agencies accounts for just 20% of their time.


Why do brands rely on intermediaries for pitches?


For the most part, clients know very little about agencies; beyond those they’ve previously worked with, they might have limited exposure to other agencies. This leads to a significant ‘information gap’ and, in a market already saturated with creative agencies, knowing where to find the right support can be overwhelming.


Meanwhile, procurement departments, tasked with buying creative services, often lack the necessary marketing experience and their focus on cost reduction rather than investment performance can further complicate the decision-making process.


From a client’s perspective, when it comes to agency selection, intermediaries serve as outsourced, highly specialised industry experts who handle all aspects of a pitch. They provide valuable insights into the market landscape and help clients navigate the complexities of agency selection. What’s not to love?


However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to success with intermediaries


Every intermediary will have a methodology unique to them; some may take a hands-off approach, while others actively participate as part of the client team. A non-negotiable for all should be transparency, integrity and active listening.


Building a successful relationship with an intermediary starts with effective communication: think of them as one of your marketing channels and be consistent, clear and compelling in your messaging and brand positioning.


During the pitch process, intermediaries will assess agencies based on a range of criteria from experience, culture and results, through to DE&I and awards. The weighting given to each will depend on the client, project and intermediary approach. And if you’re not the right fit, know that it’s OK to say no (when necessary) and walk away from a pitch.


The intermediary ecosystem is dynamic and ever-moving. There are no shortcuts. Only by effectively communicating your agency’s value proposition, building meaningful relationships and demonstrating integrity throughout the process can you maximise your chances of success.


If your agency wants a better understanding of the complex intermediary landscape, sign up for our Intermediary Insight Masterclass, carefully designed to bust myths, deliver insight and offer you tailored advice, saving you time, effort and enabling you to take decisions on where to focus.