Weeks, maybe months, of team effort went into a pitch that you didn’t win and now you’re exhausted and demoralized. You take a deep breath, write confidence-boosting email to the team to let them know how much you appreciate the awesome job they did, and hope that the next pitch turns out better.

Sound familiar? What most agencies forget is that they’ve just invested a significant amount of time building a relationship and that investment shouldn’t go to waste.

Start by thinking about the process you just went through. From the very beginning, your agency was included in this review because you displayed some form of qualification for the work that needed to be done. Assuming that you did your best (or unless you screwed up so badly by, I dunno, sending a disparaging email to the client by mistake), the likelihood is that you made a positive impression – maybe not the right impression to get the business, but positive nonetheless.

Take advantage of this!

Most agencies are smart enough to follow up and get feedback on their performance, but often the relationship ends there. Instead, do this:

  1. Add all client names and contact info to your prospect database. So basic and elemental but so often overlooked (and if you don’t have a prospect database, for goodness sake, start one).
  2. Schedule reminders for a future follow-up in sixth to twelve months, or whatever duration feels right to you.
  3. When that reminder comes due, do your homework – find out how the company is doing, how the agency is performing, or even if your contact has moved on to another company – and put together a thoughtful email that shows you’re still thinking about how you would tackle their marketing challenges.
  4. Repeat for as long as it takes to get the client’s attention again (and, by the way, you may still be getting their attention even if you’re not getting a response).

Here’s a true story – an agency I know pitched an emerging healthcare brand and lost. They wrote it off as a good experience and moved on to the next one. But even though he didn’t hire them, the CMO had been really impressed with this agency’s work. A year later, when he moved to another role at a consumer products company, he called them up and hired them. What a happy ending! The moral of the story: these kinds of lucky situations might actually occur with greater frequency with a little proactive outreach and patient nurturing.