Should Your Marketing Agency Pitch for Free?
Are you tired of losing time and money on RFPs? Do you want to start charging for creative strategy? There’s a long-standing debate in the agency world about whether or not we should pitch for free. It all comes down to knowing when and how to position a paid strategy.
In this episode, we’ll cover:
- Pitching new clients vs. organic agency growth.
- How your agency can get paid for the pitch.
- Should your agency ever work for free?
I talked to Aleena Mazhar, Vice President and Managing Director of the Experiential Division of Fuse Create, a marketing and ad agency based in Toronto. Aleena is a self-admitted addict to the fast-paced nature and constant problem-solving of the agency culture. Aleena has experienced both organic growth in her agency as well as growth fueled by pitching the agency’s services through the traditional RFP process. She is here to talk about both methods and when it’s ok to give your ideas away for free.
Pitching New Clients vs. Organic Agency Growth
Aleena says she and her partners at Fuse were fortunate that when they created their agency, they each brought clients with them. This fueled a lot of organic growth, as the agency leaned on these existing clients for input on how to expand their services to meet their needs. This helped build a stronger relationship with their clients. By being responsive to their needs Fuse was willing to grow alongside their clients. It also brought new business through word-of-mouth from those satisfied clients.
How Your Agency Can Get Paid for the Pitch
Aleena feels you should not be pitching for free. Pitching for free is essentially giving away your creative vision to a company that could ultimately decide they don’t want to work with you. Your time and your agency’s creativity deserve compensation. How do you get paid for the pitch though, particularly in an industry where free pitches are commonplace?
One way involves assisting an existing client in developing a strategy for their RFP on an upcoming launch. By getting your team involved in strategizing with the client on what they are looking for, you ensure your team’s work isn’t being given away. You also position your agency to win the proposal since you have been involved from the early stages and have helped develop the proposal requirements that you must meet. Additionally, there is comfort for the client in working with a team they have already become familiar with.
Should Your Agency Ever Work for Free?
While the preference is getting paid for creativity, Aleena says there are projects the agency will pitch for free because they are simply so enthusiastic about the work. They’re willing to take the risk just to be involved in it. As a smaller agency, very selective with the clients they work with, Fuse can’t afford to do free pitches often. However, if it’s the right fit; the right size, the right niche, and the right service needs – it’s a no-brainer. “In your heart, you know when it’s the right thing to do,” she says.
With those unicorn opportunities too big to risk putting the client off with a paid pitch, Aleena says it’s important to involve all levels of the agency team. This reinforces the feeling of transparency that builds trust between the client and the team and helps the client feel that his or her needs are of the greatest importance to the agency.
Would you like a 90% close rate on the deals you want?
It took my agency years to develop a solid foot in the door offer that converted at a high rate. And, Ian has spent the last 10 years developing his too. That’s why we decided to collaborate and create the FITD framework to share with other agency owners.
If you want to learn more check out FootInTheDoorFramework.com. You can discover the exact framework that Ian and I created so you can be successful. Close deals faster, stop giving away strategy for free and win the deals you want. When you have the right framework, you will find your sales process is scalable. You can even step away from sales and so you can spend your time working on the best.