Free Pitch? Does that make you a bad person?
In the eyes of the design community ‘Free Pitching’ is a dirty word and the industry bodies like the Design Business Association have been working hard with the industry to stamp it out. John Scarrott of the DBA said;
“Free creative as a basis for selecting an agency is a lottery to which both parties buy a ticket. And it’s tempting for agencies to demonstrate they can solve the problem by actually solving it.
As with any ‘punt’, there is always a chance of a win for both sides, but the stakes are actually higher for the client than they are for the agency. For the client, if they’re serious about their brand, making the wrong choice of agency can be costly. When it comes to selecting who you’re going to trust with your brand, why would you flip a coin to make the choice? There’s always another way to demonstrate an agency’s worth than offering free creative, there’s plenty.”
A recent report shows that while nearly 90% of clients surveyed value design as important to a brand’s success and see the standard of UK design consultancies as “very high”, almost 70% of clients say they would not expect to pay for a creative pitch. So why the mismatch between what the industry is promoting and what the clients are actually doing.
Thought Leadership and Commercial Insight
I don’t believe an agency has ever been hired purely on past work and reputation. There is always a conversation about the upcoming project and that conversation will inevitably include some original thinking by the agency about how to handle the particular project. These days it’s not enough to go along and show them how smart you are as the client can easily sit there and say, ‘Hey you guys are really smart’ and still not hire you – that’s where thought leadership can end up. You have to be telling them something about their business that they don’t already know, some opportunity that they hadn’t fully appreciated to either make money or save money. That is true commercial insight and to get to that point you must be thinking up new stuff just for that client which is a creative activity provided for free.
As always, we are looking forward to hearing your thoughts or contact us if you have any questions.