As clients turn against it – could this be the end of the free-pitch?

The free-pitch has been the scourge of the design industry for as long as most people can remember, and I’m often asked the question, ‘will it ever become extinct?’


Source: misteraitch

My answer has always been no. While everyone is aware of the negative effect of free-pitching on the industry, I’ve always believed that there are enough consultancies out there prepared to give their ideas away for free – and enough clients demanding it – to make free-pitching impossible to eradicate.

There have long been strong voices in the design community speaking out against free-pitching. Our recent story about consultancy Exesios and its no-free-pitch policy is a compelling example of the benefits of saying no.

Exesios managing director Paul Brammer says the policy has seen the consultancy gain respect among clients. ‘Since changing our approach we’re hitting figures we never thought we’d hit,’ he says. ‘We’ve got at least five months of work in progress for next year already and we’re 30-40 per cent up on last year’s income’.

All very compelling – and obviously beneficial for the consultancy. But it takes a brave consultancy to try to persuade a client that free-pitching is bad for them too.

So what could be more persuasive? Well how about when a client themself outlines the flaws in free-pitching.

This week Tom Foulkes, marketing director of developer Peter Brett Associates, provide a several compelling reasons why free-pitching is bad for a client’s business.

He describes the practice as ‘commercially toxic’ and points out, for example, that holding free-pitches can lead to clients commissioning sub-standard work based on short-term and unproductive relationships.

Foulkes’ argument is part of a wider campaign, with the Design Business Association, that aims to prove to clients how bad free-pitching can be for their business. You can see more – including Foulkes’ comparison of credentials and creative pitches – here.

It’s this sort of thinking – and these sorts of case studies – that might just spell the death knell for the free pitch. At Design Week, we’re committed to sharing these thoughts and these stories, to help our readers build a case against free-pitching in their own business.

As more consutlancies become brave enough to speak out about it, and more clients turn against it, maybe there is a chance that free-pitching will become extinct?

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