The Modern Marketing Agency Pitch

Marketing Strategy

Back when I worked at a marketing agency, assembling a client pitch was like putting on a really big show. There would be a flashy presentation, imaginative props, samples of creative executions, and of course, a heart-tugging story to tie it all together. Seriously, it was a huge deal. One pitch included a battered-looking suitcase filled with oddities, not unlike the kind found in a traveling medicine show right out of the old West. Another one featured a story quilt with wedding photos printed on fabric. (My mother made it, and it was a big hit with the clients because it showed how well we understood their target audience, which was, fortunately, made up of quilters like my mother.)

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One particularly memorable pitch included a puppet show made using pictures glued to Popsicle sticks of kittens wearing little sweaters. (I forget exactly why. Clearly we were ahead of our time, if today’s Internet cat fixation is any indicator.) Then there was that time when, for reasons that are lost to me now, the art director decided we needed to light a bonfire of huge piles of (fake) money in the alley behind the office and take pictures of it to include in an upcoming presentation. Needless to say, the other businesses in the neighborhood were not amused. Nor were the firefighters who showed up ten minutes later. (We landed the account, even though we burned through a lot of cash first.)

One thing we rarely included in the pitch to prospective clients was hard data. There were no metrics demonstrating past performance and projecting future results. No charts illustrating potential upticks in key performance indicators. No mention of return on investment (ROI). Remember, this was a while ago, and these things were harder to come by (though not impossible to dig up). But we didn’t use them because we didn’t need them. I guess the adorable puppets more than made up for the lack of numbers. (They do help a lot, especially when your client is easily distracted by shiny objects.)

Things have changed quite a lot since then. These days, still clients expect a story-telling approach, but they often expect the “happily ever after” moment to focus not on the client-agency marriage but on what exactly you plan to do to make their business more successful. Your potential client wants to see a combination of intelligence, specialization, metrics, and success stories that prove your value. That doesn’t mean it can’t be creative. But it does mean it has to be thorough and precise.

Here are five ways the modern marketing agency can create a presentation (not a “pitch”) that will win new business.

1. Demonstrate a strong value proposition.

You should be able to clearly and concisely articulate your expertise with outbound and inbound marketing, including how these complementary techniques will meet the specific strategic needs of the client organization.

Include examples wherever possible of how these tactics will work together across channels to reinforce the client’s brand presence and achieve their overall goals.

2. Provide meaningful statistics and metrics.

Few things grab attention as effectively as interesting facts and figures that prove your points, so be sure to deliver them. Include compelling industry stats that resonate, and screenshots of reports that demonstrate key results, such as click-throughs, increases in the delivery and quantity of sales-qualified leads, and sales conversions. Marketing is increasingly data-driven. If kittens in sweaters are a proven winner with your client’s target audience, by all means, include them in the pitch, but be ready to provide data to back up your findings.

9 Essentials to Grow Your Agency and Help Your Clients Succeed

3. Make sure you’ve done your homework.

Before you walk into the meeting room, you should have a clear sense of your prospect’s business model, current marketing efforts and tactics, and target customers. If you win the business, this information will be foundational to building your client’s buyer personas and delivering content that will resonate with each. If you don’t win the business, well, maybe there’s another opportunity with a similar company in the same industry. You can always reuse the research you’ve done and put it to good use somewhere else.

4. Show – don’t tell – the tools you can use.

Showcase the technology you plan to employ to best monitor, optimize, and report on the client’s programs and activities. This opens the door to marketing automation and primes the pump for potential upsells. Having the kind of measurement capabilities that marketing automation solutions provide also lets you position your agency as technically skilled. It shows that you will be able to set up, track, report, and iterate the metrics that matter to your current and potential clients, as well as to their executive managers. When you look good to them, they look good to their bosses, and everyone wins.

5. Illustrate a roadmap to success.

Make sure you demonstrate that you know where your prospective client organization wants to go and that you have a plan that can help them get there. Take it as far into the future as possible. If you can outline a five-year strategy (or more) that makes it perfectly clear what you can do for your clients and when you will make it happen, you’ll have a better chance of keeping them loyal over the long term.

The role of marketing agencies has changed dramatically in the past few years, and this rapid evolution seems to be speeding up rather than slowing down. Look at the explosion of mobile and social marketing during the last decade. What new technologies and changes in human behavior will drive the next big trends? And how will your modern marketing agency adapt to these challenges and turn them into opportunities for growth? It’s hard to imagine, but one thing is for sure: the days of the flashy, substance-free pitch are numbered because numbers are what matters now.


Not so much.

9 Essentials to Grow Your Agency and Help Your Clients Succeed