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Any proven formula for pitching?

Another dilemma from a yet another entrepreneur. – how to pitch for new clients? Through mail? Through calls? Through visits? How?

As an advertising agency, we were lucky to start with a good reputed client who believed in a young bunch of nailbiters. It was hard to pick from there. We even compromised with our ambitions and started behaving like copy partners for other media agencies. It picked up. With a strong hold on concept creation and copywriting, our mettle in these areas got proved. Trust started building up. 

We got referred. We begged for design work. We ended up with digital. Even as a learner, we had great time delivering some really clutter-breaking ideas to our SMM clients.

Finally, we also got design work. We had a blast. Our ideas started getting inked in mass media. 

We are happy. But not content.

We do have a dearth of clients who can assess our designing and copy services. We recently won a pitch with extremely good response for inhouse branding of a large hospital.

It means, we are good.

We made our portfolio. We made our profile presentation. We drafted good pitch mails. We made emailers to make things interesting. 

No response yet. Most of the emails bounces back. Calls are not taken seriously. The only response we get is in the form of “automated replies” in return to our pitch mails.

We are thinking of getting a CD done and sending it to the addresses of various prospective clients. 

The challenges are – 

– We don’t know who actually need us?

– We feel like a sales person while making unproductive calls. We are an agency and we are here to sell not products but ideas. 

The help which I need – 

– What exactly should we talk about in a pitch presentation or mail? Is there any proven formula? (web is full of articles, which i can’t relate to). Kindly give some real-time suggestions which you have tried yourself and were lucky enough!

– kindly mention any directory, site which is productive in getting you across some meaningful clients.

–  We have heard of HR connections which are required to break the ice? what is the process?

– We even aren’t sure of what questions to ask. So you can suggest from your end which could help us solve our issue.

“We are a bunch of enthusiastic young heads. Advertising is what we started out to make our ideas reach out to millions via brand communication.”

Thanks for your time. Do take time.


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  1. wow = nice post! I will promote this on Monday.

  2. Not trying to be a smart arse here but an advertising firm is looking for ways to advertise themselves, right? Don’t have answers to your questions but I can tell you what might not work successfully.

    1. Mass mailing no matter how smart the pitch is. Your’s is not a consumer product.

    How’s your team on networking with people who have wider contacts in the industries you want to penetrate?

    Why not share what you guys have done already and may be some of rodinhoods might be interested in your services for their own ventures? That might be able to tell a bigger story here on the work that you have achieved thus far.

    Although resource intensive, are you able to make a customised intro pack for your key prospective clients and how you can have a positive impact on their business and what you propose for them?

  3. Thanks Mr. Tejas for taking out time.

    let me first give you an idea of “to whom” we mail – 

    we select a sector – say real estate, jewellery, power sector, educational institutes, book stores, etc and then search for their contacts on web. Our cover letter is modified according to the sector and we tell them that they can ask us for our ‘profile ppt’, in case they are interested.

    This garnered no response. No one asked us for our profile. So we tried another way. We prepared a short, easy to download profile of our firm (attached to this reply). No response whatsoever.

    I hope this ppt attached will help nailbites (our agency) get some attention. Thanks for your valuable suggestion.

    I hope this to work. 🙂 

    thanks again

  4. Dear Mr. Alok

    Thanks !!

    I would also request you to pls come up with some fine solutions with your extensive knowledge and experience. I have made this post with high expectations to crack the code to getting clients.

    Kindly help.


  5. Few days back, I read a post on 
Inbound Marketing on this site.. you can take cues from there (m not able to find the post and link it here) … 

    Inbound marketing works great in service industry. We are a B-2-B company, having a niche audience to our site… and get a lot of leads through inbound marketing… try it 


  6. that’s a very effective point that you have come out with Mr Siddharth. And believe me, for a second, I was forced to quickly analyse whether or not we as an agency deliver features or benefits.

    Yes, we do sell benefits to our clients. The good thing in the digital media is, you get to analyse your benefits in exact figures and statistics, even though the only vague point is whether or not you will be able to attain the target. But if you do attain it, it shows. 

    Some of the most recent achievement we made our client experience is getting him the prestigious PRSI award in the social media category apparently due to our strategic handling of their social interactions on various platforms.

    There are also other reward points which we sit down and chart out to be able to showcase our targets at the end of each month as a quality review thing.

    Regarding inhouse branding for hospitals or other stuffs other than digital (which we are into), assessment is made on personal choice. As in the design was good . the design was not good. The copy is great. The copy is not great. SO we continuously improve and deliver until unless our client says ‘Perfect!’.

    However, i strongly believe in the saying that ‘half of the advertising budget is wasted. The only issue is you never know which half’ 🙂

    Nevertheless, that’s not an excuse. 

    Secondly, my major concern is getting new clients. how to approach them. How to reach out and make them listen. I am looking for ways that’s used by big agencies or even middle level firms. What is the exact procedure to present ourselves in a way that exude our complete potential in an effective manner?

  7. 1) Freebies

    2) Events

    3) Google ads

    4) Facebook ads

    5) Mailchimp

    6) collaboration

    more than pitching – i feel you need to use lean launchlab software to sought out your doubts .

    hope it helps

    Thanks and best regards

    Karan Ahuja

  8. Hi Anamika,

    Firstly, I think it is brilliant that you guys have gotten as far as you have purely on your own mettle. Here’s hoping that you relish each new challenge that comes along. 

    I understand from your post that you are an advertising agency that is doing copywriting, design & digital work. You are looking to add more clients. My two bits on the questions you posed:

    1) Use your existing client connections better: How strong are your relationships with your existing clients? There is nothing better than having a client champion your case to a prospect. Instead of sending out bulk mailers, ask your discuss your goals with your existing clients, get them to suggest potential organizations to whom you might be able to add value. 

    2) Know which customers you want to reach: Pick organizations which you think suit you best – they should be big enough to be of value for you, but small enough so you are of little value to them. Within these orgs, who are the people who will be making/involved in the decision on whether or not to hire your firm? Linkedin is very useful to identify these people. Is anyone in your network connected to them? Are they planning to attend an event where you can get your face in front of them? If all else fails – time to brush up your cold calling skills 🙂

    3) I am not sure of how the pitch for a creative org should be, but like someone else pointed out, being able to quantify or at least define impact will help in making a more convincing pitch.  Have you taken a look at the pitches of established agencies? 

    4) Get more media coverage – Can you pay for advertising yourself? Facebook/Google/Other websites which would be visited by your customers? Alternatively – How about doing campaigns for other hungry SMBs who are willing to take risks? Maybe a zany viral campaign for an NGO might do a lot to your market reputation. Maybe even a viral campaign for yourself!

    5) Never Say Die

    Disclaimer: Not from the creative industry so understand only the broad fundamentals. Been selling, but not for long. 

    All the best! Rock it!


  9. IMHO no matter how good or great your pitch is, if you are sending mass emails sector-wise, expect maximum 5% response. I am sure you guys are pitching yourself and in different ways, but every recipient in your email is not a prospective client for you. So conversion will work that way only.

    Also instead of asking people to request for portfolio, why not give a link and let them watch it on Slide share or somewhere?

    But yes you should trying different types of contents like including success stories, offers, offering free advise etc and then measuring them should be the ideal way.


  10. @Siddharth Deswal Liked the edited copy. thats how we need to project.

  11. Anamika, this is what I would do:

    niche down – super big clients are unlikely to come right at the beginning – are their clients who have not started to advertise yet but are considering it? people who doesnt know how to navigate the advertising world, with profitable companies that are just reaching the pahse where they need to advertise?

    I would try and find them – not at any random places one by one, but places where I can find them congregating. For instance trade bodies, trade magazines, business newspapers, magazines.

    I would try to land columns where I can educate them on how to advertise, how to decide what is the right time to advertise, how to get the best bang on every buck they invest in advertising.

    I would contact trade bodies and offer to take free seminars for SMEs on how to go about advertising, when is it a good idea to advertise, how to choose an agency.

    I would write articles for startups and SMEs on advertising on my blog. I would publish a book called A Guide to Advertising for SME’s and Startups in India.

    Honestly, I have no idea specifically about the ad industry – but this is my approach to marketing my own startup, which works in the cross section of law and education.

  12. Hi, once you are done with the ‘inhouse branding of the large hospital’ email me your work and we may just work together. I am setting up a chain of clinics in India.

  13. Hi Anamika,

    Everyone has covered the major aspects so there is no need to repeat those points. I will just add one thought process…

     – Nothing works for me better than seeing how it will ACTUALLY work for me. So if I were you, I would identify a target client and take one of its marketing material. Completely redesign it, applying my creativity. Then, I would design a questionnaire which has questions comparing the specific aspects of the marketing material, before and after. I will then send the old material, redesigned material and the questionnaire to the client, asking them to give the questionnaire to their employees. You can claim that if the difference in ratings of old and new is more than some number, then only you would ask for business. It does following…

    1. Shows the client how sincere you are for their business

    2. Shows the confidence that you have in your work.

    3. Most importantly, contrasts between the current and future for the client. 

    It is a very effort intensive experiment, so dependent upon your bandwidth.



  14. bang on rituraj! i was just waiting for someone to say this!!! 

    anamika…. this exercise works wonders. and this potential client will yell & tell the whole world what you did for them. nothing is more flattering to a client than seeing an agency look at them with fresh, passionate, sincere eyes 🙂

    all the best. you’ve dug quite a goldmine 🙂


  15. Hey Rituraj!

    You are back and again with a piece of gold!

    Have done the former part (redesigning the existing material), but sent through mail … so no actual visualization was possible for the client. And as it was just a mail from yet another agency, may be he/she had the option to ignore it straightaway.

    I did this exercise for few real estate clients as I saw great potential in this sector for advertising. It was also one sector which could result in initial revenue generation for my agency.

    But the ‘questionnaire’ thing, that’s a great great way!

    Thanks for coming out with it!

    Kudos Ritu!

  16. yup Asha! 😀

  17. happy to be of any help


  18. Hi Anamika,

    Here’s a letter from a prospect who just saw your PPT.

    Dear [Oh-what-was-your-name?],

    Just saw your PPT, and was surprised…so saw it again!

    What is in it for ME, the prospect? It’s all about YOU!

    I may not say it, but as a prospect, I am very selfish, constrained for time, and also suffer from ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

    I will only be interested in taking an action on this PPT when you show me as a ‘Hero’ there…where you show me how after using your service, I can demolish the villains (competitors).

    As a prospect, I want to see what’s in it for ME. Of course, you can include 1-page about YOU as well.


    Mr. Selfish Prospect

    I hope this helps! 🙂



  19. It helped a lot Mr. Vishal.!!

    I truly recognize and realize the mistakes I have made in this ppt and i admit to have never come across any such criticism from anyone. 

    I am truly grateful to have got such a meaningful response through this platform…I intend to add and delete stuffs and make it more relevant from a prospective client’s point of view and re-post it again over here for a feedback from you all…

    Thanks once again!

  20. Although, there can not be a hit-formula or general strategy for business development in your case.

    You mentioned that you were lucky to start with good reputed clients. Well, that’s wonderful. Call the respective people from these organization. Ask them to refer to their contacts. At best, ask if they know some-one who is seeking similar services. Referrals works best in service businesses.

    Making sales calls, sending portfolio CDs to hundreds of companies is a good strategy as well. But returns are very low.

    Best way is to utilize network of your existing clients.

    Call ( not just email – call them personally ) all your friends and tell them what you doing. Ask them to refer if they see any leads nearby.

  21. Hi Amit

    Just few days back we started calling up our existing clients and asking them for references. We were surprised to see the response as all were willing to give readily. 

    It has indeed added to our confidence in our services. But we are still on with our mass calling and mailing procedure as it would give us the opportunity to approach the kind of clients we would love to work with in terms of industry preference.

    thanks for your time and suggestion..Really appreciate!!!

  22. Nice.

    A better idea would be fix a one-on-one meeting with your target clients. Explaining them your proposition personally is I think better than sending mass emails/callings.

  23. Great post indeed. 

    I’m keenly waiting for any reply/solution from experts and entrepreneurs.



  24. Dear Alok,

    I also look forward for your help so that people like me can be benefitted.

    Looking forward for your much needed help in this regard.

    Best regards,

    Pramod Chaturvedi.

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