How to (and not to) pitch for work (Start by not being a sexist)
We need some work done on the Bethnal Green Ventures site. We put out an open call, sent via networks to folk, to twitter, and on our blog. We had quite a few responses, all with some sort of reasonable-ish budget attached. And we invited a few people in to meet.
See, we wanted to find someone we want to work with. Although this is a fairly small piece of work, we’ll have quite a few of them, and we don’t want to tender every six months. We’re fortunate not to have to, and to be able to build up a good relationship.
It was not hard to choose somebody we wanted to work with. And this kind of sucks. It really wasn’t that hard to win work. There wasn’t really a choice, unfortunately. We went out of our way to include a variety of agencies, from one- and two-person bands to medium agencies, though we shied away from larger agencies – we don’t need a lot of bells & whistles and we like working with start-ups.
Oh, did I fail to mention? We’re a tech accelerator. We work with web entrepreneurs every day.
The agency that won? Here’s what they did.
- They looked at our website & understood what we did
- They told us that, and why, they wanted to work with us
- They gave us clear pricing, and explained why when there was a range
- They realised that we had a decent tech background and spoke to us like we knew what we were talking about
- They showed us samples of their work, highlighting things that they thought would be relevant to us.
Here are a few tips of what not to do.
- Don’t not bother to turn up. Seriously. You’d think. We set up time to interview you & shortlisted you. You’ve put in time to read and respond to our tender. Turn up. You never know. You might get hired.
- Don’t not bother to read the website of your potential client. We have different requirements than a coffee shop. Or a museum.
- Don’t speak down to people if you don’t think they’re not technical. Following on from the previous point, one respondee spent forty-five minutes explaining what a content management system was.
- Don’t be a sexist idiot. Somewhat also following on from the last two points. This made me astoundingly angry. We’re a small team, and we’re all intelligent geeks. We also run a tech accelerator and all of our communications state that “We actively encourage women to apply”. If you have a different pitch to women, if you feel like you have to rely on sexist stereotypes in your pitches, if you don’t listen to intelligent questions, if you can’t be professional when your two interviewers are women, you’re an asshole and you’ve put yourself on each of our personal blacklists.