What You Need To Know: Pitching’s Dead (And Ridiculous)

Pitching vs. Sales

There is a big difference between selling yourself and pitching for business. Whether you’re a preacher or a grocery store clerk, we’re all salesmen. Being a good salesman is a great thing, but it’s time the advertising world moves away from the outdated pitching process. More importantly, it’s time for businesses trying to hire an ad agency to stop requesting pitches.

Why Pitching Is Dumb

When given the opportunity to “pitch” business, we typically decline. Don’t get me wrong, we’re aggressive and enjoy competing against other agencies for business. We just won’t do it in the typical agency fashion, which is an hour-long presentation where we try to explain why we’re the best fit and how we’ll have the best “synergy” between our team and yours. It’s ridiculous to think that you can get to know a company well enough to trust them with a couple hundred thousand dollars (or millions, in some cases) in as little as an hour-long presentation. Let alone get to know someone well enough to decide if they’ll be a good partner 5, 10, or 15 years down the road. It just doesn’t make sense, so we don’t participate. Instead, we have multiple conversations and get to know a potential client. We want to explain how we work, what to expect, and how we believe we can be of benefit to them. We also want them to decide if we’re the right fit given the information we’ve provided.

We want a long-term relationship, not a reward for the best presentation. And businesses should want that, too.

We Pitched Once…

A couple of years ago we went through the entire pitching process for a big account we wanted to land. Our pitch was great! It just wasn’t as great as one other agency’s. They pulled out all the stops and spared no expense. They “wowed” the client and won the business. We got beat. It sucked because we knew we were a better fit. Word quickly spread around town that the other company was struggling with the account, which is exactly what we predicted. After two years, they finally figured it out. The frustrating part was that the client couldn’t see past the pitch and focus on the implementation. The experience taught us to stick to our guns and never participate in that type of environment again. We’ll never be an agency that pitches, and that’s ok.

When It’s Too Good To Be True

Our experience has taught us that the companies who work tirelessly to perfect their pitch are usually the ones who suck on the backend after they’ve been awarded the business. It’s the “let’s get the business and then figure out how to manage it” philosophy. Fake it ‘til you make just isn’t our style.

When I was in college, I read the book “Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive: Outsell, Outmanage, Outmotivate, & Outnegotiate Your Competition” by Harvey McKay. The book profoundly changed my life, and the quote below perfectly sums out how we approach the business development process at Agency501.

“Never buy anything in a room with a chandelier.” — Harvey McKay

Truer words have never been spoken. Like anything in life, if someone is trying so hard to impress you, they probably need you much more than you need them. Relationships should be mutually beneficial…not one-sided. If I have to spend three weeks preparing for a meeting where I have one hour to impress you, then we’re probably not going to be a good fit. The old school pitching process kind of feels like the king who wants everyone to kiss his ring. If that’s what you’re looking for, no judgment here. Again, we’re just not going to be the right fit. Now, if you want to spend a couple hours discussing the pros and cons of working with us, I’m game. We’re not above giving anyone our time, this game just has to be played on a neutral field.

Give agencies an opportunity to sell themselves. Get to know them and spend time learning the ins-and-outs of working with them. In the long run, finding the right agency will save you a ton of money and spare you countless headaches. Nobody wants to be in a bad relationship, so spend some time playing the field and getting to know the folks who will (hopefully) be around for years to come.

How We Captured 28.3k Video Views in One Video

Case Studies 28.3K VIDEO VIEWS 60.9K IMPRESSIONS 203 WEBSITE CLICKS One automotive case study we love to share is how we captured 28.3k video views for Smart Chevrolet in one social video. The Smart family has served Arkansas since 1906, and over the last few years,...

The Story of Heartland Pharmacy’s ReBrand Campaign

Case Studies 500K LOCAL IMPRESSIONS 70K ENGAGED USERS 20% BRAND RECALL INCREASE With 10 locations across the state of Arkansas and a local competitor closing shop, Heartland Pharmacy came to us for a strong social strategy that focused on client growth and brand...

Reliant AC Gimmick Guide Case Study

Case Studies 1 M DIGITAL IMPRESSIONS652K ENGAGEMENTS1 M DIGITAL IMPRESSIONS652K ENGAGEMENTSReliant Air Conditioning has become one of the top HVAC companies in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex by keeping their customers cool in one of the hottest regions of the...

How To Hire The Best Ad Agency For Your Biz

When it comes time to get serious about their marketing goals, most companies hire an ad agency. For obvious reasons, that's great for us. Agencies, when used properly, provide a tremendous amount of value to a business. But, finding the optimal client/agency fit is...

What You Need To Know: Pitching’s Dead (And Ridiculous)

Pitching vs. Sales There is a big difference between selling yourself and pitching for business. Whether you’re a preacher or a grocery store clerk, we’re all salesmen. Being a good salesman is a great thing, but it’s time the advertising world moves away from the...

Nothing Is Original, But You Still Have To Be Creative

“Nothing is original. Everything is a remix.” -Kirby FergusonIf you’ve been in the advertising or creative industries for more than 5 minutes, you’ve likely heard this quote in some form or fashion. There are Ted Talks about the subject, endless articles referencing...

Doing Things Differently: Agency501’s Digital Retainer

Here’s how it usually goes down… You hire an advertising agency and you agree on a budget. They tell you that it’s great and you’ll start seeing results before you know it. You do see some results… just not as much as you were expecting. You’re expecting that the...


Agency501, Inc.

805 W 2nd St

Little Rock, AR 72201


Agency501, Inc.

P.O. Box 501

Little Rock, AR 72203