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The idea of more imaginative marketing by design groups as a possible foil to free-pitching came up last week in a Design Business Association debate. How do you think they might go about it?

‘Understand the nature and character of the potential client. One approach won’t suit all. Once you’ve got past the first meeting, it’s a matter of developing a relationship built on trust. You can’t take a short-term view, once you’ve opened a dialogue with a potential client keep talking to them. Over time, work may come as a consequence of the client being able to understand the way you work and your record of achievement. If you’re only as good as your last job, ensure they know what that is. But you can’t beat recommendations, and have to think creatively about ways to make sure people pass on your name. Ultimately, it is about the quality of your work and the reputation you establish.’

Paul Priestman, Partner, Priestman Goode

‘More design consultancies need to become strong brands themselves. A strong brand has the respect of its customers. Clients will tell you that there are only a handful that have achieved this – Enterprise IG, JKR, Interbrand and Pentagram, for example. Yes, there is the need for more imaginative marketing, but more need to get the fundamentals right in the first place.’

Simon Rhind-Tutt, Partner, Relationship Audits

‘Designers need to convince marketers that they (the designers) really understand and empathise with the target audience. They need to show they understand the channels to reach that audience and can produce a creative solution which drives awareness, interest, desire and action. It may be easier if they can demonstrate a specialism. From our research, designers also need to convince marketers that they will help with measuring performance against communications’ objectives. To do this, they need to be active in the planning process. Getting this across in the sales messages might well help improve revenue.’

Amanda Merron, Partner, Willott Kingston Smith

‘We all need strong visions, strategies, plans, outputs and brands if we want to succeed. Would it prevent free-pitching? Absolutely not. The only remedy is a firm refusal. Nobody forces us to give away our work, strategic or creative: it’s a commercial decision. If you want to do it, add the cost to your marketing expenditure. If you don’t want to do it, just say no. It’s your choice.’

Shan Preddy, Management, marketing and training

warrior, The Preddy Consultancy

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