To pitch or not to pitch...

...is a question we often ask ourselves.

Pitching is a time-consuming, costly and often un-productive process. In many cases the ground-breaking, revolutionary idea that won you the pitch will never see the light of day again and those late nights and endless meetings are time that nobody is paying for. But I don't want this post to turn in to a moan about the pitch process. It's a necessary part of the business we do – and a well conceived, properly run pitch is often a fair way of selecting the right company to deliver on a brief.

But how do you decide which pitches are worth going for and which ones are (excuse my language) taking the piss? There's a whole load of factors you need to take in to account. Is it paid or unpaid? Will a million other companies be submitting ideas? Are you the right fit for the client? Does the client know what they want? Does winning the pitch fit in with your business plan? And so on, and so on.

Recently I've been trying to add some science to the process. I wanted to devise a framework that would help us to make rational and informed decisions about which pitches we go for and which ones we say 'thanks, but no thanks' to – a cost / benefit analysis if you like. The result is a 'decision tree' which we've used to help us sort the 'not a chancers' from the 'lets give it a goers'. Obviously sometimes emotion kicks in and overrides what the tree tells us – you know those times when the client is so hot that you turn a blind eye to the fact that a thousand other agencies are in the frame and the pot of gold is twenty quid. But most times the tree has helped us make rational decisions about the resource we are willing to commit to the pitch process.

Our decision tree is a work in progress – so far it's been really useful and we'll continue to refine as we learn more. We hope that it'll be useful to others facing the pitching dilemma. Let us know in the comments what you think. Download the tree here!

[FOOTNOTE: If you're brave enough to shun pitching altogether then you've probably already read Blair Enns excellent 'The Win Without Pitching Manifesto']