Unpaid pitches are bad for clients and consultancies alike

We took the decision, some time ago, not to engage in unpaid speculative work of any kind. This means that valuable resources are not diverted away from paying clients.

We are sometimes asked, by a new, prospective client, whether we would produce some creative visuals as part of our proposal for new business. Why are we asked for this? A prospective client will say that ‘it gives us the opportunity to see how you would approach our situation’ and ‘the other agencies are doing this’.

Well, our view is that a consultancy’s portfolio should demonstrate the type and level of work that is created for their clients, and clients’

testimonials can usually be produced to support this. When seeking new business, a design group should be looking for a client-consultancy ‘fit’

and long-term opportunities to develop the relationship. This means that the relationship must benefit both parties.

A good ‘fit’ is possible when the client takes the consultancy seriously and examines its suitability – based on experience and previous results – not on a subjective choice of a set of free visuals.

The creative work should commence after the consultancy has been engaged, with the creative process allowing the consultancy to evolve designs in response to taking sufficient time to understand the client’s needs, as well as implementing that client’s feedback. This process ensures that the client receives what it is seeking.

I believe that a client is putting itself at far greater risk by choosing a consultancy based on unpaid speculative work. The very nature of a visual pitch means the consultancy will spend the minimum time on the work, as it may not get paid for it. Contrast this with a fully paid project which has been developed through proper understanding of the client’s needs and where the consultancy has had time to develop ideas and seek client feedback.

Matt Brown, Director, One Vision, March, Cambridgeshire PE15 8AN

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