Pitching Is Good for You Even When You Lose

Here's to the Pursuit of Happiness ... and New Business

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Editor's Note: Ad Age welcomes to Small Agency Diary Maureen Hall, founder-CEO of Woodbine, in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Maureen Hall Maureen Hall
Some may call it looking through rose-colored glasses, but it's finding the silver lining in new-business pitches that helps me commit my team to what could potentially be an uphill battle with many sleepless nights and missed TV shows. It's with the greater good in mind that I've listed the top eight reasons why putting your agency through the rigor of a pitch is a good thing, no matter the outcome. Although the risks can be great, the rewards are sweet -- and no, I'm not just talking about the bottom line (although that's No. 8.) And who knows, maybe all it takes to win that account is a little positive thinking. (And a killer intellectual-property disclaimer.)

So go get 'em.

Top Eight Reasons a Pitch Is a Good Thing
  1. Brings the agency together
    Employee turnover can be disheartening, but nothing repairs a leaky team dynamic like seeing the five o'clock shadow of your officemate during a brainstorming session. Some of the best collaborations are forged over pizza, a ticking clock and healthy internal competition.

  2. Cleans out the pipes
    All agencies have clients they can count on for work, but routine projects can lose their zing, sending your artists off to scan the internet for inspiration (and hopefully not job postings). Engaging your team in free-range spec creative can be beneficial in shaking the dust off the ol' strategic-thinking cap. Something all your clients will thank you for.

  3. Rediscovers your own point of view
    In the everyday chaos of deadlines, most of us forget to brand our own agencies. Having to write an RFP or develop an elevator speech forces you to think about your own brand voice. Sometimes it's figuring out what you really stand for that's harder than deciding how you want to be seen.

  4. Gets you out of that rut
    Having a sweet spot is great but always working in the same category doesn't stretch talent. You may want to leave your comfort zone and make a foray into a new category. Or why not be the wildcard and pitch that "big fish"? You have nothing to lose; in fact you may discover that the only thing holding you back from the big time is you.

  5. Makes you a student of the industry
    I can think of easier ways to do your homework, but if a pitch is the only way to make your employees read the wealth of knowledge about consumer trends available, then by all means, get thee to a library. Investing time into learning about what makes our industry great is never wasted.

  6. Forces you to walk the walk
    It's easy for agencies to rest on their laurels and pass judgment on other's work when they don't put themselves out there for critique. Throwing your hat into the ring for a new account says that you're not afraid to go head-to-head with the competition. Maybe you'll win the business and a Gold Pencil to boot, and maybe you won't, but you'll be seen as a contender, which will make others think twice when one of your accounts is up for review.

  7. Wipes the slate clean
    When client relationships are good, they're great. And when they turn ugly -- well, it's not easy to boost morale after a squabble. Pitches offer a much needed distraction from employee gripe sessions and give the agency a chance to make new friends and renew their desire to provide good customer service.

    Having extra money to thank your employees properly for their hard work is definitely a plus, but win or lose, every agency could use a cause for celebration. So pour the champagne, wipe your brow and get ready for what's next. Cheers!
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