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What a Pitch is Really About

What makes one agency’s pitch successful, and the others not? What makes the winner win and the losers lose?

In my experience, pitches tend to go wrong as the agency immediately focuses on what THEY can DO for the prospective client. As soon as the brief comes in they are already thinking about creative ideas, concepts and campaigns, angles for stories that will make the national press and what content will work on which social platform. This is just ‘stuff’.

Perhaps, alternatively, it might be a good idea to consider the client’s psychology and mindset first? What is the client thinking and what is their desired outcome from all the ‘stuff’ you can do for them?

Research has found that around 85% of clients who approach a PR agency for support have done so because they have either a:

Problem (loss of market share, increased competition, customer complaints etc.)


Challenge (new product launch, new branch opening, new staff members etc).

Naturally they have highly personal and individual concerns about these problems or challenges; “If this new product launch fails I may lose my job?” for example. There is often a lot at stake – for a person or a business – and clients need to feel that you understand this and ultimately care as much as they do.

And, although they may not even realise it, all clients have three emotional needs that they are looking to be met by the pitching agency:

  1. UNDERSTANDING – do these people understand me and do they care?
  2. RAPPORT – can I work with these people? Do we have chemistry?
  3. TRUST – do I trust these people with my cash and can I trust them to do a good job?


All the above are actually FEELINGS and, in my opinion, the pitch is just a platform to create feelings and emotions between agency and client.

Just like everyone else, clients will always buy on emotion and will then support it with logic. The pitch is therefore actually about creating an emotional connection – not just an intellectual one.

Telling them all the ‘stuff’ you will ‘do’ for them and how you will do it may sound impressive but it won’t necessarily create the emotional connection that they are looking for from you. 

In reality, clients don’t care about how much you know, until they know how much you care.

The ‘stuff’ you present in your pitch deck will only act to affirm whether the client wants to work with you or not. They have already made their mind up about whether they want to work with you because of the way you’ve made them feel.

So next time that brief lands in your inbox, ask these three questions about the pitch you are preparing to respond with:

  1. Does it acknowledge the client’s problems, challenges and concerns?
  2. Does it reflect the client’s needs, their wants and their aspirations?
  3. Does it build Understanding, Rapport and Trust?


Create Understanding, Rapport and Trust and they will appoint you. And remember…“They will not remember what you said. But they will remember how you made them feel.”


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