Matt Smith: head of production at Tech TV
Matt Smith: head of production at Tech TV
A view from Matt Smith

Killer idea please - for free

When new clients ask for ideas, how much do you give away for free?

Sure, if you’re in the serious stages of a pitch for a big project – you have to give it some serious thought. But what about the first enquiry? Are you prepared to offer up original, creative ideas for no guaranteed return?

You could argue it’s part of what we all do. Clients come to us for fresh thinking, whether it be for marketing, advertising, media or PR. 

Recently, we’ve been asked by several new clients to come up with amazing ideas for videos as part of the early stages of a tender process. Basically, they want the treatment straight off the bat, with a price attached.

I can see it from their point of view. They want the exciting idea that will help convince them that it’s worth spending the money, and worth spending it with us. And it’s nice to be able to get that excitement going. But there’s also the danger that you put in a good few hours coming up with a killer treatment, writing it up and then never getting paid for that development time – even if you get the job.

It’s a tough call to make. For us, it comes down to the size of the projects. If it’s a big pitch, we’re prepared to put some hours in, to work it up into something impressive. If it’s a small job, it becomes tougher to justify.

Personally, I think it’s reasonable to dangle some hints of what’s achievable for the money. But is it reasonable to ask for a fully developed idea for something that you might never make or do? Or is that just part of what we all do?

I’d be interested to hear your take.

Matt Smith is Head of Production at Tech TV