The pitch meeting is an essential part of the design process for many agencies. However, there’s a worrying trend with these meetings – they finish without any selection of any designer involved in the pitches. This sends out a bad message; it suggests that design agencies are exploiting the pitch meeting for their own idea generation process. It’s also leading to a ton of frustrated contract designers who are becoming more and more reluctant to devote time to pitch meetings particularly when their diaries are looking pretty healthy. Why bother, if there’s nothing to gain right?
Making Pitch Meetings Worthwhile
It’s probably time for agencies to address some of the fundamental flaws in the pitch meeting model. If agencies want the best talent to bring their A-Game to these meetings then there needs to be some sort of redress for the lack of balance in the process:
Pay People to Attend
Pitch meetings that go nowhere can really hurt a small team or a solo designer. They’ve still got to spend a lot of time developing ideas and concepts to pitch. In essence the pitch meeting expects the small potatoes to invest time and money with only a faint hope of return.
A small fee set aside to pay designers who attend pitch meetings would renew the interest of those who may have been burned in the past. More importantly, it sends out a good message – that you understand how much effort goes into the pitch and that you value that effort.
Be Open About Attendees
There’s a layer of secrecy thrown over pitch meetings which is completely unnecessary. You’re more likely to get original and great ideas if people know who they’re competing against for your business. This isn’t a state secret, you’re not breaching any confidentiality laws by sharing this information among all parties.
There may be a side benefit of this too. In that it might push the parties involved onto greater heights of creativity when they review the list of attendees and realize that they really need to hit an idea out of the park to have a hope of picking up your business.
Award the Project to Someone
This isn’t rocket science; once you get a reputation for stealing people’s time (which is basically what it feels like when someone pours their heart and soul into a pitch only to find that you were pumping them for ideas rather than seriously putting business on the table) – it’s only a matter of time before designers start seeking other places to win work.
The pitch meeting should be the start of a partnership and keeping that in mind will go a long way to helping attract the best design talent to your pitch meetings. If you need to generate ideas; that’s what you have an in-house team for. If you want a designer, then by all means use pitch meetings to assess talent but once you’ve assessed that talent – place some business with the best of it.
Rajput Association of America (link to image)
Ashton Associates (link to image)
Principis Capital (link to image)
USA Today (link to image)