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Tom Sefton
on Jan 13, 2012 at 11:28:03 am

Hi all,

We are frequently approached by heritage sites and design companies around the UK with requests for pricing, creative treatments and method statements for work at heritage sites. Do any others here have experience with this?

We tend to spend a long time writing these proposals, but the success rate is low. Trying to stay focused on work that is coming through the studio, whilst filling in creative proposals is really tough, and we are finding that a lot of design companies and heritage sites are relying on a large amount of work from us with a 1 in 10 chance of winning the project.

It would be great if we could come up with some expected standards for tendering for our industry, because it seems that our time and creativity is very easy to borrow.....

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Mark Suszko
Re: Tendering
on Jan 13, 2012 at 3:57:06 pm

I think you have to keep your hand in somewhat, keep pitching occasionally, it's an investment in yourself, and it builds your reputation. Yet you don't want to be taken advantage of constantly.

In the US there are times when the ad agencies do competitive spec proposals completely for free, and other times when they insist on a minimum fee to participate in this pitch process. The fee is generally just enough to somewhat cover the costs of the effort, thus offsetting the lost productivity away from paying clients.

So, one way to weed out the idea thieves and uncommitted "tire-kickers" is to refuse to do spec work without an expense stipend. Some reasonable amount of money that separates the punters from the serious players, you know?

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Bill Davis
Re: Tendering
on Jan 13, 2012 at 7:07:45 pm

It's an age old "supply/demand" issue.

When work is scarce, we have to do more to secure it since client demand is weak. When work is plentiful, we suppliers can ask for more concessions (like financial compensation for pitches.)

I largely see pitches as my freedom to experiment and learn. But I'm getting very sensitive about sending "finished" work out for non-client review. I'll take a demo on an iPad or laptop connected projector to a client's office or boardroom, but I'll resist leaving them any creative content in any persistent form.

What I can leave is text documentation outlining a possible working relationship and referencing "creative as presented on (date). But I won't leave them the actual files or printouts or boards (physical or electronic) to mull-over, look at, and possibly benefit their in-house or alternate suppliers.

I think that should stay in my control unless and until we formalize a working relationship.

Essentially, I'm saying to the client that if you're not paying for it, you don't get to have it in persistent form. You can SEE it in my controlled circumstances. But not take it away.

I know this is a radical departure from the traditional pitch, but I think its worth considering in this day and age of rampant file sharing and outright piracy.

If you're exposing your creative ideas to a relatively unknown client, why should they expect anything beyond their recollections as a takeaway?

It's a PITCH of ideas. Not a submission of actual work.

Obviously, circumstances can trump this approach and if a CEO of a respectable organization wants a keynote of the creative, I'd probably just say "yes ma'am." But in an electronic world where copying and distribution is so trivial, I think a bit of a firewall between creative work and the marketplace is something worth fighting for.

And heck, if the presentation is strong and it impresses them, the natural next step should be ANOTHER presentation to higher ups - and that's a worthy goal in and of itself.

And when the money starts flowing, that's when they start getting what they're paying for.

Just thinking out loud here.

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Connor

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Mike Smith
Re: Tendering
on Jan 14, 2012 at 10:22:12 am

One approach might be to build a core presentation about your work - perhaps a few different ones for different areas or types of work - along with a pricing structure or price guidelines, including prices for developing creative ideas as script, storyboard or to be presented in other media.

That might form the bulk then of a spec invitation to tender, perhaps sweetened on more attractive invitations with an individual first para in which you try to display sensitivity to and awareness of the particular needs of the project, and to fly a single interesting or intriguing seed of an idea.

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