So when they called with an urgent request to send some artwork to their e-newsletter vendor so they could send something out to try and address the problem, we gave it our immediate attention.
That was yesterday. Then yesterday afternoon, last night and this morning, I struggled with myself. Because what they are going to do with that e-newsletter isn’t enough to solve this problem, I don’t think. We had another idea. Maybe a better idea. Certainly a simple, low-cost easy-to-do idea.
And that’s the problem. Like most of us out here in agency-land, we don’t get paid for any unsolicited thinking (ideas) we give this client. In this case, the creative and production fees we might get if they go ahead with our suggestion wouldn’t be much. They don’t have much to throw at the problem. So a solution that doesn’t cost a lot is a big part of our idea.
In fact, it’s ironic that in the entire equation here, the single most valuable part of the whole thing is the one part we wouldn’t get paid for. The initiative, original thinking and generation of a creative solution to solve a marketing problem. That’s the valuable part. Not the production.
I’ve said it before and no doubt I’ll say it again. The value that we bring to our clients is not just in copywriting, art direction and production. It’s in thinking and ideas. And as long as clients continue to believe that our compensation should come from production (and this is only marginally different than that old 15% commission thing) they will continue to expect ideas for free. Who could blame them? But should we keep our ideas to ourselves unless they wave a fistful of money at us?
In this case, our client didn’t ask or expect us to come up with anything for free. That was on us. And in the end, I sent them an e-mail outlining the idea. I just couldn’t help myself.
But as much as I like this client, I can’t shake the feeling that maybe I just gave something away.