To pitch or not to pitch? 15 questions to help you decide

By Dan Sudron, managing director

The Future Factory


The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

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July 15, 2015 | 4 min read

We all know that the marketing industry is super competitive. The vast majority of agencies need to work very hard to attract potential new clients and, sometimes, simply for the opportunity to pitch. Equally, all agencies know that pitching comes with costs attached, both in terms of time and money, as well impacting on the resources available for core client work.

The Future Factory's founder and managing director Dan Sudron.

Deciding which opportunities to go for and which it would be wiser to decline is a crucial skill for growing agencies to develop. One of the key factors in highly respected agencies increasing their pitch conversion rate is having a great sense of which opportunities they’re most likely to win and which they should confidently turn away.

Some agencies go with their gut while others have established strict criteria to guide their decisions. Most agencies have heard of the Fun/Fame/Fortune triangle: as long as an opportunity fulfils at least two of these criteria they will look to proceed with it. It can be a valuable exercise to analyse these three factors in terms of which is most important to the agency. Understandably these priorities may change as the business progresses through different stages of growth.

To further scrutinise an opportunity, it could be valuable to ask yourself or the prospective client the following questions in order to make an informed decision:

  • How many agencies are pitching?
  • Have you spoken with the decision-makers before the pitch date?
  • Do you like and respect each other?
  • Is the brief clear?
  • Do you agree with the course of action proposed by the brief?
  • Is there any conflict with existing clients?
  • Are the budgets adequate and exciting?
  • Are timescales for the pitch and campaign/project realistic?
  • Does the agency have capacity to do a good job?
  • Is there a passion for the brand?
  • Is there the opportunity for you to develop case studies in a new discipline or sector?
  • Do you have relevant experience?
  • Have you delivered to a similar scale or similar brief in the past?
  • Is there strong potential to grow the account?
  • Do you know why you have made the shortlist?

Of course there are times when you only need to tick one box to feel the opportunity is worth throwing your hat in to the ring.

For example, one of the agencies we work with at The Future Factory recently decided to pitch for the Tough Mudder adult assault courses account on the basis that all the members of the agency had taken part in at least one Tough Mudder challenge over the previous year. They knew with absolute confidence that they could showcase their passion, understanding and commitment to the brand more than any other agency.

Answering the questions listed above will help you to uncover the attributes unique to your agency in relation to any given pitch and, ultimately, guide your decision on whether or not to proceed.

Dan Sudron is founder and managing director of The Future Factory. A London-based new business consultancy, The Future Factory develops bespoke new business and lead generation solutions for marketing, PR, digital and creative agencies.

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The Future Factory

With a mix of lead generation, board level consultancy and coaching, we help to make the future more predictable for agency Owners, Founder and Directors.


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