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Free pitching

Discussion in 'Graphic Design Forum:' started by Identity, May 16, 2009.

  1. Identity

    Identity Member

    Would you do it? Do you do it?

    In my old agency it was taken for granted that we would participate in free pitches. I hate the idea and I always thought that the best ideas didn't always win and it was such a lottery.

    My pride tells me that my new company would try to never participate in them, but I can't really see me holding out now I am looking at it as a business owner and wanting to keep the cash flow healthy.

    What are peoples thoughts on free pitching?

  2. lauralil

    lauralil Member

    You may not have liked the winning pitch, but what about the client? Thats the most important thing after all.

    I do free pitches, win some, lose some. its just part of the industry!

    I do intend to keep on doing them too, as I enjoy the experience and find the client feedback always helps me to better my practise
  3. zeb

    zeb New Member

    Luckily I haven't had to and wouldn't, on principle, but if times are tough and the bills keep coming in...

    I know it's standard practice in a few industries, architecture being the obvious example, but even then there's usually an agreed fee to cover costs. Then again architecture firms take on staff to prepare for a pitch... and then fire them again as soon as they lose. Maybe that explains why unemployment in that particular industry has increased by over 700% in the last 12 months or so.

    I'm of the opinion that potential clients have a lot of nerve to expect work for free. Would they ask 5 caterers to prepare a business lunch for 50 and then only pay for the one they liked most? Or 5 solicitors to handle their business merger and only pay the one who got them the best deal? You can imagine the response...

    I suppose free pitches and even design competitions :icon_yucky: have their place and could be useful for students, college leavers etc and who am I to criticise anyone willing to participate in free pitches as a way of getting work and building up a client base? Times are indeed tough and we all want to make a decent living. I just think that clients who expect a professional job should expect to pay a appropriate fee. It's important to respect yourself as a professional; if you don't, then the client certainly won't.
  4. zeb

    zeb New Member


    Just PM'd you.

  5. Identity

    Identity Member

    I know free pitching will never go away - doesn't mean I agree with it! So, you enjoy the experience of free pitching? Giving your ideas away for free, with the chance you won't be selected? Are you a sadist?

    I agree entirely with Zeb's comment:

  6. dot design

    dot design Member

    I don't agree with it but have done it/will do if the project interests me and I think there is scope for a great solution and design.

    But on the whole working for nothing isn't put up with in most industries and shouldn't really be put up with in ours!
  7. lauralil

    lauralil Member

    I'm not giving my ideas away though thats the thing.

    I think our definitions of a pitch are different! What do you do for a pitch?

    When I pitch I spend 2-3 hours putting together a mood board, a couple of concepts and some relevant work. Maybe a couple more if its a big job and I think it warrants more effort.

    And I never go into a pitch thinking oh i might not get it, I see it as an opportunity to show the client that I'm the one for the job. So yes I do enjoy it, its hardly being sadist is it!

    Zeb, thanks for your message :)

    I think your analogy of the meal as being a pitch is a bit wrong though. I never give out a free meal, a taster yes of course.

    Thats what a pitch is, a way to show a potential client the ideas you have for their design solutions.

    If a designer goes into a pitch with a FULL solution that you spend ridiculous amounts of time preparing for then I think you need to rethink your strategy because that is a waste of time in my opinion.
  8. IS-James

    IS-James Member

    It is important to remember that if you pitch a concept to a client as part of a free pitch then you still hold the copyright to the ideas. Right up until the point where you win the pitch and are paid for your work.

    The same is true in a situation where you pitch several different ideas to a client and they pick one of them to be used. Unless the client is specifically paying for all of the ideas then they still belong to you and can be used again for another project.

    Make sure you keep control of your work until the client has paid. Then transfer the copyright to the client, this protects you against clients who don't pay even though they are already using the work you have done for them.

    This is another reason why it is important to draw up a contract for each project that sets out specifics like who owns the rights to the project and at which stage the rights are transferred. It seems like a big hassle but really pays off if there is a dispute later.
  9. Free Pitching :icon_yucky:

    We are not keen and have turned down jobs...just doesn't seem fair or right to me.

  10. Identity

    Identity Member

    It's definitely in the definition where we differ, at least where you and my last boss differed, I actually agree with the way you do things. If you are going to free pitch, give them a taster, that works for me.

    As I mentioned at my last company, I clashed with my boss on what we should prepare for a free pitch. The boss would make us prepare 3 full concepts of work to pitch (albeit for jobs of around 5K+ in value).
    It would takes days to do, and after all that work there is a chance you still won't get the job. I just assumed that everyone else also did complete or near complete concepts. But to be fair to him all the agencies I have ever worked for have done it in a similar way - if you are going to free pitch , go all out to win it.

    Back to my original post, I think I would participate in a free pitch if the reward were high enough (over 5k).
    Anything less than that and it really wouldn't be worth my while. And even then I wouldn't spend days giving away a full concept...
  11. Daniel_Parsons

    Daniel_Parsons New Member

    A Free pitch won me a 2.5 million dollar re-brand contact so I would suggest to anyone that is struggling at the moment to give it a go.

    The biggest pointer I can offer, is write up a legally binding agreement/contract and get it signed. Protect your work.

    I always ask for a %50 deposit as well when dealing direct with clients. It has worked well for me over the years.
  12. Identity

    Identity Member

    2.5 million? Got any spare clients you need me to help with? What were they Oil Tycoons? Or was it Bill Gates!
  13. Daniel_Parsons

    Daniel_Parsons New Member

    that was the budget of the overall project. It was for a social club in Sydney. Think of it like a casino with a resort.

    Sadly I did not get the 2mil all for myself, although it was a very profitable job.

    Mind you, I think its allot tougher trying to get work over here. I have been applying to studios in NI and seem to keep hitting brick walls. Is anyone hiring at the moment?
  14. blairenns

    blairenns New Member

  15. Stationery Direct

    Stationery Direct Administrator Staff Member

  16. Great video!! Spot on!

  17. CYoung

    CYoung Member

    Excellent video! Tickled me. :icon_lol:
  18. kallkwik

    kallkwik New Member

    Great video. How many times do we all get treated like this!!! :icon_biggrin:

    VLAHAKISA Member

    What I Do

    I've never pitched concepts or even rough ideas for free because it's not the way I want to work, it doesn't feel fair to me and I also think it's less profitable than other methods of acquiring projects due to the massive time investment per pitch.

    Even though it's a recession I've done well over the last year and have matched the previous years profits (just did my tax return!).

    I don't feel that one needs to do free pitches to keep the work flowing, it's not necessary at all. I've never done it. I think it's perfectly fair to be paid for ideas, even rough ideas and so I won't work until 50% is on the table and they are committed to the project.

    What I do when I 'pitch' is spend perhaps an hour pulling together images from my portfolio that best display my capabilities and style for their need and industry and accompany this with a formal quotation and often a substantial conversational email about how I can help them. If they ask for a few rough ideas I say no. I'm rarely asked though.

    I'm in the fortunate position of having a large portfolio of works spanning over the last 7 years and this does help me to pitch without needing to give them actual ideas for their specific business ... but saying that I've never done free concepts/rough ideas to win projects even from day one; so I do maintain that if you don't want to work that way, you really don't have to.

    The only time you would ever see me pitching design 'ideas' for company prior to payment is for a massive massive profitable deal for a major brand name. Of course in that case, it's worth the risk and time investment if it pays off.

  20. 10thWay

    10thWay Member

    Tried pitching once and to be honest I'd rather scratch my eyelids with a wire-brush than doing it again.
    If cash is the issue, start re-selling print, that will pay those bills for you.

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