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18 Apr

Free Pitching: Value, Relationships and Design Agencies

  • Posted by Paul Heaton
  • 0 Comments
  • design partner, parnter, Pitching, value for money

For many design agencies, free pitching is something they only reluctantly get involved with, because it taints their professional standing and has a detrimental effect on their work.

What’s Wrong With the Pitching Process?
It’s understandable that in times of financial pressure, getting value for money becomes a key objective, and businesses feel a need to keep an eye on expenditure. However, simply attempting to drive costs down in all areas is not necessarily going to yield the best results.

Design is all about finding the right solution, and this may not necessarily come at rock bottom prices. The process whereby agencies are asked to compete and submit a pitch, with all the preliminary work free of charge, may indeed stir up some competitive pricing, but will it ultimately serve the client’s communication needs?

Good design works when the agency forms a creative partnership with the client. How solid will this partnership be if its starting point is a competitive pitch with one eye on price, and the other on impressing rather than understanding the client?

It’s rare that the pitching process allows enough time and space for a proper client consultation. Instead it’s more of a talent show competition, with design agencies having to guess what will impress the client.

Why the Client Suffers
You could be forgiven for thinking this is just about designers and design agencies, that they’re feeling hard done by. But the thing that suffers is the work, and this is ultimately going to affect the client. The client may think that initiating the process with a cut-throat competition involving free work being submitted benefits them, but it doesn’t.

Good design agencies aspire to create their very best work for their clients. That’s the reason they’re in business. What the client gets at the free pitch stage is not likely to reflect this, given the constrained conditions and tight timescales involved.

If the client ends up with bad work, the process has failed on all counts: it has failed the client, it has failed the brief, and it has failed the design agency.

So, the client’s business suffers, the agency’s reputation suffers, and, arguably, so does the design profession; because to maintain professional standards requires diligence and perseverance. Free pitching may look like a short-cut to success but it’s really a disruptive short-circuit.

What You See is What You Get: Real Value for Money
Another damaging aspect of the pitching process is when agencies compete successfully for the work but ultimately don’t commit their best resources to it once the project goes live.

This is where the stress on winning the job can be detrimental to the actual quality of the work when eventually undertaken.

Value for money is not about a race to the bottom. Design adds value to business and helps businesses grow. For a good return on investment, businesses should be choosing a quality design partner.

At Reform Creative  we believe in delivering on our promises, so when we say we’ll be working on your brief it’s us, the same people pitching to you, who will be doing the work, ensuring that your project is properly, expertly completed to your satisfaction.

Our design practice is all about forming partnerships with our clients, understanding what makes their businesses tick, and applying our skills and knowledge in the pursuit of their strategic goals.

For us, the perfect pitch is not a competition; it’s when we strike the right note with our clients, because we understand how best to meet their requirements.


To find out more about Reform Creative and the services we offer, please call us on 0161 766 2914 or drop us an email at hello@reformcreative.co.uk

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