5 Pitching Don’ts and How To Avoid Them


My Photography

Most people know me for strategic planning, my experience in international media or my love of controversy. It’s a toss up.

Some other people know me for my photography. 

I recently rented a photo studio in downtown Miami and was approached by one of the partners of the owner of the building and the gallery that’s in it. She wanted to talk to me about representing my work. “Absolutely,” I said.

When we finally met, she spent the next 20 minutes telling me about herself, how she took 15 years off to raise her three children, how she is retaking her artistic life back, etc., etc., etc., while barely glancing at my book.

When I guided the conversation to the representation— sales —she started telling me about the plans they had to begin private showings in the gallery and how they were partnering with the Downtown Development Association, the Tourism Authority and other groups…until I really had no choice but to ask for the “client” question: “How does that benefit me?”

“Well, all of my connections are going to be exposed to the gallery and you’ll have some work here,” she said.

After 30 minutes, we ended with the typical “Hey, great to have met you.”

This was also instructional, as outlined in the following three rules:

Rule #3:

A pitch is not about you. It’s about the other party.

It took her 25 minutes to get to where the deal vaguely would benefit me, the guy who was supposed to pay her either rent or a commission on the prints sold. In a pitch, whatever the pitch, if you can’t get to the client’s benefits immediately (for whatever reason), lay down the groundwork that indicates, yes, you’re getting there in the next five minutes.

Rule #4:

Research. I’ve never seen a pitch without some research succeed. Ever. Either desk research, the client’s own research, online surveys… something that tells the client.  

“Hey, we cared enough to take some time to find out what you are all about, what might affect you…to understand you.” The gallery owner began her pitch with the dreaded question, “So what kind of photography do you do?”

Rule #5:

This is an old saw among salesmen: Every meeting needs a next step or it didn’t matter as a meeting.

Making a Meeting Matter

So what does a perfect pitch look like?

  • Hi. This is what we are doing here…
  • We understand what you’re all about (research) and this is how we can help you reach your goals.
  • These are your objectives (or what we think your objectives should be if you haven’t told us yet).
  • We understand that these are your consumers (research).
  • This is where we find your consumers, non-consumers, potential consumers.
  • This is what we need to tell your consumers, ex-consumers, non-consumers to make them do whatever it is that you need them to do (your benefit).
  • This is what we’re going to do to make sure we’re all on the right track.
  • And finally, this is what we propose should happen next.


During my meeting with the gallery owner, none of this came up. And as one might expect, I didn’t sign a contract with her.

So when you’re pitching something—a product, a service—make sure the pitch is about your potential client and how your particular skills can benefit him or her. Sounds simple, and it is.

Related articles:

The Five Nuances of Networking for Small Business Owners

Smart Companies Listen and Respond to Customers

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Marcelo Salup
Marcelo Salup
Marcelo Salup's 30+ years career in advertising covers a wide range of everything. A wide range of roles -he began his career on the creative side, won 2 Addies, changed to media, included strategic planning and consumer insight and has been an agency owner several times. A wide range of venues: Spain, Latin America, International and the U.S.  A wide range of clients that go from automotive through banking, electronics, fast food, soft drinks and much more. His professional philosophy can be summed up in four words: “Only performance is real”. Today, he runs a successful strategic planning consulting,  Website

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