Tempting as it can be to invite agencies to pitch for campaigns and launches, asking for ‘free design’ won’t necessarily generate the ‘great design’ you want to see from a potential agency. In order to deliver free creative, agencies are effectively trying to produce this around their work schedules for existing paying clients and real deadlines. All unpaid pitches are costly for agencies; this is why paid pitches can be far more beneficial to both client and agency – acknowledging the value of an agency’s creative input to a pitch will increase the likelihood of receiving truly creative proposals. Moving away from the ‘free’ element, paid pitches will also act as a reminder for enquiry into fees – what are the studio costs and day rates of each agency, and will this play a large part in your decision?
But what are you really looking for in an agency? Do you want a proactive, strategic agency that can also deliver great creative? If so, have you considered strategic proposals as an alternative to pure creative? A strategic pitch can be just as (if not more) advantageous in terms of bringing insight into how an agency approaches your brief. Working with a strategic agency in a strategic pitch is often a great way of challenging all the assumptions that often fly around companies and can often tackle the difficult questions that consistenly remain unanswered as a result of poor inter-departmental communication. If those assumptions remain unchallenged, the 'great creative' might actually miss the mark when it comes to engaging with your customers. Finding an agency who can really dig down into the core of a problem and work with every stakeholder within a company to deliver an effective solution becomes a very valuable resource, much more than just great creative.