How to Combat Agency Pitch Addiction

March 15, 2022

Agency pros are accustomed to the ebbs and flows of the creative process. After a project wraps, there can be days (weeks? months?) of quiet time before the next one begins. And when pitching a new client it’s all hands on deck. There are late nights, early mornings, and too many people editing the presentation deck at the same time. And it’s a rush because it’s, quite literally, pitch addiction.

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You know it’s unhealthy and unsustainable, but it all seems worth it to spark fresh ideas and allow new talent to flourish.

Winning is addictive (and distracting) because pitching is performance. It feels like being center stage at Carnegie Hall with the brand team hanging on your every word — and budget estimate. However, pitch addiction is really procrastination. There’s simply no time to make changes to your agency culture, your business strategy, your client relationships, and your even personal relationships when there’s an RFP to answer.

Effective work takes time, vision, and collaboration. An intimate relationship between agency and client is when each party is willing to share ideas with honesty and without caution. Where trust is built through the trials and errors of strategy, marketing, and insight. A pitch, in stark contrast, is all about working in isolation, eyes searing by the blue light of your laptop.

Now, we’re not saying to go cold turkey and stop pitching altogether. Of course, new business is great. It’s good for your agency, your client, and your teams. Yet, according to a Provoke Insights study, approximately half (47%) of advertising professionals are dissatisfied with the current internal approach to pitching.

Try these three tactics to combat agency pitch addiction:

1)  Focus on your existing clients

Avoid the excessive cycle of speculative, proactive, and unpaid pitching to win new business (or have clients playing agencies off against each other to drive down fees). Build meaningful client relationships to foster a deep understanding of your current clients’ brand requirements and objectives. Then, proactively share ideas and help create new messaging strategies.

2)  Trial a new client instead

Pitches take time, money, and uncertainty. Consider countering an RFP by suggesting a paid, discrete project on a trial basis. This approach can improve agency team morale and allow for more time to invest in actually making magic happen for clients. It’s all about the measurable value a new agency partner can add. Brands shouldn’t test agencies to see what crazy out-of-the-box ideas you can magically conjure up in three weeks.

3)  Don’t sell the farm

It’s time to call out the artificial environment of a pitch. The process is stressful for both sides and isn’t conducive to an open, honest, or trusting relationship. Instead, present your agency credentials, but don’t offer creative recommendations until you’re in a position to provide a genuine, informed solution.


If you liked this blog post, check out:

  1. Top Austin Ad Agencies: Q1 2022
  2. How to Implement Winmo’s New OTT Insights
  3. You Found a Sales Opportunity, But What Next?

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