Long Yun Siang’s (pictured, right) decision not to pitch might raise a few eyebrows in the industry, especially since many other businesses get clients through pitches.
However, he feels if the creative industry wants to push the business model into the professional league, it should operate like that of professionals such as lawyers, doctors and accountants, who don’t pitch for their work.
“Pitching is like getting married after one blind date,” Long explains. “We don’t ask an accounting firm to pitch for our work or a doctor to pitch to get to treat us, do we?”
It goes without saying that Long understands that many companies have policies to adhere to which he respects, but adding he’d rather work on small projects that allow clients to know them better.
Roar Point was founded in 2009 by Long and Ng Wan Hoon (pictured, left). The company name is meant to reflect the advertising landscape and having a roar that is relevant to consumers.
After spending an accumulative 20 years at Leo Burnett, JWT and DDB International, Long discovered his passion to become an entrepreneur and admitted he had to learn things the hard way before getting to where he is today.
Ten years before setting up Roar Point, he ran a company called Red Pencils with shi partner that failed because of cash flow issues, ultimately placing it as an unattractive proposition for investors to jump on-board. However, Long remained idealistic and pressed forward.
The formation of Roar Point saw a new position as a brand consultancy that encouraged clients to focus on strategy first, bu thas since matured to cover a broader need for its clients.
“back then, we tried to take consultancy based work, then we realised clients want implementation work. We now do everything from brand vision all the way to implementation. We have evolved in that sense,” Long says.
From his observation of the industry, he says that in many ways being an extension of the client’s marketing arm is the type of relationship every agency craves.
“The clients we have, we treat as partners. This brand is ours, the money is yours. We build trust with our clients and they know what we can deliver, and we work together towards a solution,” Long says about its strong client-agency relationship.
With a team of seven, its talent works with pride and strives for professional services. It relies heavily on referrals and says it still receives pitch invitations because its work has been circulated through word of mouth.
“I don’t think it puts us at a disadvantage because it allows us to choose who we want to work with and for the client to choose if they want to work with us based on other factors aside from pitching,” he says.
Among the retainer clients are Live-Well, The Nomad Offices and corporate communication press initiatives for Nestle and UOB.
When asked if his stance on non-pitching would ever change, he says he hopes to prove the agency can still do well despite not attending pitches.
“If we want GLC clients, we then have to decide. But I’ve held out until now. We have business opportunities so we’re able to turn down pitches. We’re not comfortable pitching.”
He also says relying on referrals saves time and resources.
“When you get into a discussion with a client from day one and put your cards upfront, the client will respect you. That mutual respect and understanding is important.”
Long says being called and relied upon to execute high quality work for SMEs and MNCs without a pitch will ultimately reflect his success.
But he says it’s not all lined with rose petals. Since Roar point is not a multinational brand, it works twice as hard to convince people of what it can deliver. The rife of freelancers who offer work at cheaper rates also stiffens the competition.
Long says his client wish list includes real estate, where the concept of branding is different from that of consumer-oriented brands.
He also shares that the highlight of his career is being able to work with key decision-makers that trust in his consultancy on brand challenges.
Moving forward, Long hopes to expand the team and gain an in-depth understanding of the impact digital has in relevance to branding.
“We’re somewhat doing digital right now and have someone on-board qualified in Google AdWords,” Long says. “That’s also one of our strengths: we build people from scratch in the fields that are valuable to clients.”
Until then, Long continues to hold a tight grip to his belief and move forward with his mantra: When you build close enough relationships with your consumers, they become your lover. Then you need not shout. A whisper would be as loud as a roar.