As a public relations firm, we spend a lot of time with prospective clients discussing how integrated marketing communications programs can impact their brand. Like many organizations, new business development is the lifeblood of any company that sells goods or services. But unlike a company that sells widgets and whosamawhats, what we have to sell are our ideas, creativity, experience and brain power. So when the age-old question of “how much does it cost” comes up, we have to make the determination of what that brain power is worth.
Or do we?
There have been a lot of conversations lately regarding value when it comes to professional services firms. My friend Indra Gardiner, in a recent blog post, went so far as to say we are devaluing ourselves when we give away our creative thinking in the new business process. Sure, share your past experiences with the prospect, but to expect an agency to provide a full-plan in the proposal stages is virtually impossible. We can not possibly have enough information or have the time to do the research necessary to provide a comprehensive plan.
Problem is, at one time or another, we have all given in to that request because we really want the business. We know we can do the work and if we show the client upfront how creative we can be, we’ll get the account and isn’t that really what matters?
I just got caught up on a few of the last episodes of Mad Men. Our friends at SDCP were pitching the Honda Motors business. And you know what? Honda gave each of the bidding firms $3,000 to put the presentation together. They provided specific guidelines for the response and were going to judge each agency based on their efforts within those parameters. Wonder how that would go over in today’s competitive marketplace.
So I offer this up for discussion…could we all agree not to do work on spec? Could we go as far as asking new business prospects to compensate us for our new business ideas? Wonder what you think?