LinkedIn is flooded with wins. Agency owners and managers proudly publish when they win a new client. But how about when they lose? A LOT can be learned from a loss.

We lost a pitch recently and thought we’d share our valuable learnings that came out of the fail.

Picture this: a day full of anticipation and nerves, as our agency prepared to present our carefully crafted pitch to a potential client. We had poured hours of research, creativity, and passion into our presentation.

It was a food delivery company, and we’d even gone undercover as a delivery person to understand the business, inside-out.

That day, we lost the pitch. It stung. But it also taught us invaluable lessons that have got us working smarter ever since.

Lesson 1: It’s less about what they need and more about what they want

In the world of marketing, clients often come in with preconceived notions of what they want. Sometimes, it’s our role to help them see beyond those initial ideas and turn their gaze to what they actually need.

To be able to achieve this is no easy feat. You have to be able to turn the tide in their head and convince them via strong storytelling.

But sometimes, you’ve got to abandon what you absolutely know they need and give them what they want. Or not. Standing by what you know is the right direction is also a solid, admirable approach.

Lesson 2: The power of presentation – tell stories that resonate

Data and insights can be impressive in how they explain a strategy or concept. But they’re not always great at WOWing people.


Well, to anybody that doesn’t work with it, that is. So including a lot of insights in your pitch may justify your concepts and strategy, but they will also make it feel like a professor’s PowerPoint presentation.

The right approach: connect with the clients in the pitch room on an emotional level and wow them with storytelling. This is important above all else. If you’re going to give them a load of insights and data, build it into your storytelling.

Lesson 3: Be ready to stray from the script

A pitch is like any performance – you need to be reading your audience’s reaction in the room, and move accordingly.

This sometimes means straying from the script. Yep, abandon the pitch deck you’ve put hours of energy and brainpower into creating – throw it out and get creative on your feet!

Lesson 4: The importance of perception 

Positioning your agency in the market is a delicate dance.

It requires a deep understanding of the competitive landscape and a keen eye for what sets you apart from the other agencies you’re up against.

The most important time you’ll invest in a pitch is on building and nurturing the reputation, positioning and image your agency earns itself before you even get that prized invite to the pitch.

Lesson 5: Take rejection professionally – it’s not personal…while it also kind of is

Losing a pitch can feel like a personal blow, but it’s important to remember that it’s not a reflection of your agency’s worth, or abilities. The concepts and strategies may even be right, but there’s a variety of factors that can lead to a loss.

The pitch process is a strange one and one that is seriously flawed. It’s a lot like a first date. Even though you may be the perfect match, the sparks may just simply not fly in the short amount of time it all plays out.

And it may be that the person presenting for the agencies you’re competing against connects with the decision maker in the room better than you did.

Whatever the reason, upon a loss, wish the company well and leave the pitch as you should enter it – with the feeling like you’ve got nothing to lose.

Lesson 6: Rethink your pitch strategies 

Traditional pitch methods can be effective, but in a sea of sameness, dare to be different.

We’re an agency that prides ourselves on our creativity and radically original ideas, and we get a lot of street cred’ for it, as well.

But we went into a pitch room exactly how we imagined every other agency doing it. Because we felt insecure. Probably to the point where we felt like imposters (I’m sure other young, fast-growing agencies like ours will relate).

Next time, we’ll do it our way. We’ll inject our unique personality, creativity, and originality into the pitch presentation. We’ll make our pitch memorable – not just for our clients, but for ourselves, as well. This way, if we lose, we have a blast losing.

The day we lost that pitch was a turning point for our agency.

It taught us the importance of understanding client needs, the power of storytelling, the significance of emotional connections, the resilience to handle rejection, and the strength to be different.

We sincerely hope that another agency out there can get a win from what we learned from a loss.


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