When Competitors Lie
So, a recent things happened, and I'm curious how you'd have handled it. Not looking for validation, just some thoughts.
We put in a bid for a DRTV project, and the potential client went with someone else. Totally fine, it happens. But, being someone who wants to always improve our services and etc., I did ask for a followup interview on why they went in another direction.
I found out the deciding factor wasn't quality of work (whew!) or budget (yay!), but rather that this other company "was a bigger company, with a 30,000 sq foot production facility, and in-house call-center, etc." That made them feel comfortable.
At first, I thought, "Fair enough". But I did some digging, and found out this "bigger" production company is really two guys in a tiny office above a shop, they don't have a dedicated 30,000 square foot facility (just pictures of a rented studio on their website), and that they absolutely don't have a call center in-house. They're not big at all, they're just big liars on their website.
How I handled it: I let it go. Figuring, life is short, and if I could find those lies so quickly, really anybody who does their due diligence could, too. So the potential client's sort of getting what they deserve, and it's not my place to vett their choices- my digging was merely to see if there's something my shop could have done to win against these guys in the future.
One person I told this to thinks I'm nuts and should call the lead and tell them what they're in for.
I shoot people.
But Patrick, nobody likes to have their stupid decisions and choices pointed out to them. If you narc on the pretenders, you'll get a thank-you, but not their business; they'll be too embarrassed. They'll look for a third party without the baggage.
I think your best play is to leave the clients a note saying you were thinking about something (some inexpensive but arresting visual technique) that might help their project, and that you would love to work on one of their future projects, no hard feelings. Then give them a call in two months, ask them how they made out, and if they have any new projects coming up you could try for.
Now you're positioned to come in to the rescue when the pretenders drop the ball. And they usually DO drop the ball.
I have to say, as usual, Mark's ideas are spot on. It's never works out well to make a client or potential client feel foolish -- especially when it's deserved. Let them find out about the size of their staff and highly temporary 30,000 ft2 facility on their own. Just stay in touch and hopefully you'll get another shot at this and/or future gigs.
"It's a real shame that we can't work together on this one-please keep me informed if the chance to pitch ideas to you comes up again. In the meantime-we like finding new studio spaces that we can hire for greenscreen work - can you pass on their details so I can enquire about some projects we have coming up....?" Or just stay cordial and friendly and wait for the first editing session they book with the client to end badly...
I saw your post the other day, couldn't respond because I've been filming (I no longer say "shooting" because of the gun debate) and a whole slew of memories has come to the fore thinking about your post. It's not the lying thing, in fact I don't think anyone is dumb enough to fall for that, the other guys probably couched it in terms of "we partner with..." or "our associates have...", that's besides the point.
What I have been thinking about is that so many clients won't give us the REAL reason, some are non-confrontational or have other issues. Sometimes we are a check bid and they were surprised we called and have no ready answer. I too have called and respectfully said, "For my professional development could you please let me know why I did not win the bid?" You can tell by how long the pause is... Perhaps the CEO's golfing buddy has a kid who just finished film school. I have found that if it's the price everyone is willing to say that, since bare knuckle capitalism is patriotic and in many cases the lowest price wins.
I've been guilty of it too since I want to avoid hurting people's feelings when they ask why I didn't hire them. So in sum, I'm thinking that maybe they didn't give you the real reason?
Thanks for your thoughts, guys!
On the reason:
I think they were being honest with their reasoning. They'd never done a project like this before, so going with what appeared to be a bigger company made them feel good. And the liars' website IS pretty convincing.
I feel good about my decision to hang back and not point out their foolishness, definitely nobody likes to feel the fool. And things do change- there are always other projects.
I shoot people.