Bonnie Siegler | Dear Bonnie

Dear Bonnie: Curious in Carmel

Dear Bonnie,

My company recently participated in a multi-studio pitch process for a big client and I just found out that we didn't get the job. I thought our ideas were really great and met the goals of the project, but it seems the client didn't agree. I'm eager to know how the other studios out-performed us and why our ideas didn't resonate with the team so that we can do better next time and so that we can learn from any mistakes we may have made. Do you think it would be okay for me to solicit feedback from the client? 


Curious in Carmel

Congratulations on being part of the pitch for a Big Client, and I am sorry you didn't get the job. However, if you're successful enough to be considered by Mr. Big then you already know that rejection is part of the game.

What you have yet to come to terms with is that sometimes you'll never know why your pitch has been rejected, and that's okay. There are many reasons you may not have gotten this job and some of the possibilities could simply be too uncomfortable for anyone to want to discuss. I know that shouldn't be the case since this is "just business," but we are all "just human."

In no particular order, here are six possible explanations for why your company didn't get the job:

1. The personality or culture of your firm didn't jibe with the Big Company. You were too cool or too conservative or too old or too young or too independent or too agreeable.

2. They just didn't like you. Sorry. It happens to the best of us. And even the client probably couldn't explain exactly why.

3. The work wasn't good enough. You misunderstood the brief. Your presentation was boring. Your ideas didn’t feel fresh. Ouch. 

4. Someone else's work was just a little bit better. Less ouch.

5. They were looking for a firm to correctly guess what they were thinking. This is more common than you'd think. Clients don't want to impede the creative process, but they often sorta kinda know what they want already. If you guess that, you will somehow be proving that they were right all along. Ego is a powerful decision maker.

6. Someone's first cousin on their mother's side was involved in the pitch too.

It's probably one of those six reasons, so you don't really need to write or call. Despite not getting the job, the reason could be number 4, which means they may well come to you again the next time. If you are too nudgy, needy, and nervous in the aftermath, you could jeopardize that possibility. And even if you do write, they may not tell you the truth. They probably won't want to hurt your feelings unnecessarily and there's a good chance they'll lie just to make you go away. If I were you, I would just assume it's reason number 4 and hope they'll reach out again.

Jobs | February 23