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Navigating the Pitfalls of Pitching

UBA and ACC conducted an extensive study on pitches in Belgium. One of the questions asked to the 62 agencies that responded to the survey was: "What is the cause of a NEGATIVE pitch experience?"

Image created by Dalle•E

The pitch process, a cornerstone of the marketing and advertising industry, is covered with challenges that can negatively influence the experience for agencies and clients alike. Underneath, we've listed the critical factors that contribute to a negative pitch experience. This article seeks to dissect these factors, offering insights into avoiding common pitfalls and fostering a more effective and positive pitching environment.

Unrealistic Expectations and Lack of Clarity

One of the most significant sources of frustration for agencies is the unrealistic set of expectations by clients, often paired with a lack of clarity in briefings and objectives. Agencies complain about:

- Overly demanding pitching requirements that ask too much without clear direction.

- Vague or shifting project scopes that lead to misalignment between agency efforts and client expectations.

- The absence of clear, actionable feedback, leaving agencies in the dark about the strengths and weaknesses of their proposals.

The Transparency Dilemma

Transparency, or rather the lack thereof, plays a pivotal role in negative pitch experiences. Critical transparency issues include:

- Not disclosing budgets or being open about the selection process and criteria.

- Conducting "fake pitches" where the decision has already been made, yet the formality of gathering multiple proposals is observed.

- Failure to provide feedback or communicate post-pitch, which not only disrespects the agency's effort but also deprives them of learning opportunities.

Communication Breakdown

Effective communication is the lifeblood of any successful pitch. However, agencies frequently encounter:

- Clients not answering clarification questions clearly, if at all, sometimes responding with a defensive attitude.

- Changes in decision-makers or briefings throughout the pitch process, disrupting the flow and understanding between the agency and the client.

- A lack of personal interaction, such as face-to-face meetings or chemistry sessions, which are crucial for building trust and understanding.

The Competitive Brainteaser

While competition is inherent in the pitching process, an excessive number of participating agencies can dilute the quality of the interaction and skew the focus towards quantity over quality. Key issues include:

- Inviting too many agencies to pitch, sometimes up to 10, which not only overwhelms the client but also significantly reduces each agency's chances of a fair evaluation.

- The absence of a pre-selection or shortlisting process, leading to a crowded and unfocused competitive environment.

Procedural and Structural Flaws

The structural setup of pitches often leaves much to be desired, with agencies highlighting:

- Tight deadlines that compromise the quality of proposals.

- Extensive pitch tasks that are disproportionate to the project's scope or budget.

- The involvement of procurement-led pitches, which tend to prioritise cost over creativity and strategic alignment.


The insights from the survey underscore the need for a paradigm shift in how pitches are conducted. For a truly positive and productive pitch experience, both agencies and clients must strive for clarity, transparency, and respect throughout the process. By addressing the highlighted issues—setting realistic expectations, ensuring clear and open communication, managing the competitive landscape judiciously, and refining procedural aspects—both parties can work towards more meaningful collaborations that yield win-win outcomes. In doing so, we pave the way for a pitching process that not only respects the time and effort invested by agencies but also maximises the potential for clients to find the right partners for their needs.

PitchPoint is dedicated to streamlining your pitch process efficiently and effectively. We connect you with agencies that grasp your unique needs and foster enduring partnerships, maximizing your marketing investment. For a no-obligation conversation, reach out to

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