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To our colleague Koen Uijt de Haag it is self-evident that clients want to know who they are dealing with and that preparation is the investment that agencies make to win clients. But where is the line?

Afbeelding Prspectief.jpg

The municipality of Noordwijk damaged its own reputation by turning its tender for a new house style into a Hunger Games-style knock-out race. Twenty professional agencies were invited to enter a bid, five of whom were selected to receive EUR 1000 each for their input. 

This fishing for free services is nothing new and has been a thorn in the eye of many a professional. Knowing this, this specific example can be extended to communication agencies in general, many of whom will have similar examples of requests to ‘put some quick pointers on paper for us’. I believe that the problem is that clients have no idea of the actual number of man-hours and the amount of work behind a proposal or a service. Where it may be understandable if an acquaintance asks you: ‘hey, you're in PR and Marketing, right? Could you give me a few quick hints on promoting this?’, professional organizations may be expected to make their information requests professionally. It's like asking a web developer to ‘start building a website in advance’.

Design and communication demand investing time in getting to know the company, developing a suitable style and strategy and deciding on implementation. These are processes that, while invisible to the client, constitute a significant time investment. Of course clients have the right to know who they are dealing with, and of course agencies need to see preparation as an investment in winning clients. It is not justifiable, however, to ask for fully fledged products for free. In my opinion, the municipality of Noordwijk thus went a few steps too far when it expected twenty agencies to not only do the preparation, but also complete the actual job before even having won the tender.