Expertise and knowledge is worth more than a coffee…
For a long time now, we’ve been very strict about pitches and we thought it was about time we explained why.
We don’t meet for coffee!
It’s not that we don’t like coffee. We do.
It’s not that we don’t like meeting new people. We love it.
It’s not even that we’re secretive and don’t give anything away. We give loads of free value on this blog (even though the founder is from Lancashire!).
It’s none of that. It’s just that this whole ‘swapping expertise for coffee’ doesn’t work. We tried it. We can’t pay in coffees to the bank. It’s not the new crypto-currency.
In this blog we wanted to focus on free pitching.
Free pitching… it’s the devil!
What we want to say right here, right now, that pitching for work for free isn’t helpful to either side.
Pitching is important and we need to do it to get work. But with what we do, we can’t simply rock up and pitch! We have to work on your pitch, craft it, create it and spend time delivering it, as well as following up on it…
… often to find our potential new client went elsewhere.
(The cynic in us says that they could have been price benchmarking or looking for fresh ideas.)
So yes, free pitching is the devil. When you pitch for free what you’re actually doing is taking your time away from work that you’re paid to do – paid client time or time developing your own business.
Free pitching takes away valuable time and it’s a drain on our industry.
Our clients pay in the end
Time is money, right? So with all these pitches and meetings for coffee, who pays? You? (Only if we’re charging to pitch.) No, usually our clients do, as that cost needs to be passed on.
This is dangerous for two reasons:
- Instead of having us focused on your project, we’re potentially distracted and ‘too busy’ to complete it on time or get the job done sooner due to pitching to all.
- Our current clients have to pay more to cope with the ‘overhead’ of expensive pitches that can lead nowhere.
It’s not that our pitches are no good, or that we’re not the best for the job either. The problem with pitch fests is that the company on the receiving end of the pitches is often left like a rabbit in the headlights and simply does nothing – they freeze in the lights!
Picking our brains
This could be the worst part of it all. Pitches can be great (and free) brainstorming mastermind sessions for many companies. You can just wheel in the experts, listen to some awesome ideas, learn from their decades of experience and get tailored ideas for your project. Then go off and do it yourself. Winner! Hmm.
But you’re not the winner, are you? All you’re doing is eventually, over time, pushing up the price of the final product or service. It has to be added in somewhere.
You’ll think you know it all (or do you?)
Pitching could give you too much information and leads you to believe that ‘you’ve got this’!
You don’t, though.
You may have the ideas, but you still need someone like us to make it happen. The pitch could affect us both in a negative way. We give too much information and you’re left thinking “how hard can it be? We’ll get Billy in accounts to have a go”. Or you might be tempted to get someone on a cheap online jobs website to do it instead – using the awesome campaign or project outline that we gave you.
It sounds terrible, but it happens.
Radical idea alert! We charge to pitch?
One simple answer is to charge for pitches. It certainly limits the number we’re asked to do. It covers our costs if we calculate it correctly. We could also bring someone in to help us with the pitches with the extra resource that charging brings.
Our valuable time has to be paid for somehow, and why should our fee paying clients pay for it?
Charging upfront establishes trust and goodwill. There’s transparency on both sides.
Offering a pitch fee or charging for meetings means our target clients have to get better at choosing their agency and then also get better at briefing them too.
Ultimately it’s down to individual clients and businesses to find the best way to work together, but anything that helps both parties understand each other better can’t be a bad thing in our opinion.