I am looking for a new high-end restaurant to be my regular haunt. Tomorrow, I am going to invite 15 restaurants to send me a proposed menu of what they'd serve me based on what I like, a narrative on how they move through the kitchen and cook said meals, bios on who the cooks would be, detailed testimonials from other diners that I might call if I want and a broken out cost of not only each item on the menu but each component of the dish - what its wholesale cost is and to justify the mark-up. Then, I will invite 3 restaurants to actually cook me dinner, a full-blown experience on their dime. I won't ask them outright to do it, I will just ask them for "some ideas" on how they might implement my vision. But, if they don't cook me a 5 course meal and for free - there is no way I will choose them as my regular haunt on Saturday nights.
I will invite some of my friends to eat the meal and will of course ask them their advice. I will invite the chefs and cooks out to the table to ensure that I like them and our 'chemistry' is in order, along with the other people in the restaurant. Okay, then after I have decided which restaurant will be my regular haunt, I will call them and tell them congratulations you've won my business but I want it all for cheaper. To which, they agree. I will then proceed to call the other two restaurants and tell them they both come in a very close agonizing second place to the winner.
By now, if you are in the ad/marketing agency business you recognize this analogous story. Why in god's name to we propagate this type of behavior? We come together at industry functions, lock arms, sing songs and talk about the evil clients and search consultants and how they are sucking our finely-tuned brains for ideas and then kicking us to the proverbial curb. We go on and invest tens of thousands of dollars, take our people away from their families on holiday weekends, lose ungodly amounts of sleep and learn about our deepest fears at 4am. We typically do all this with less than a 5% chance of winning. 5-10% chance of winning!! Who bets all this on such small odds. We do. That's who.
This is as much a call out to all my agency brethren to resist the urge as it is me talking to myself. This is hopefully about client-side people and search consultants seeing this post and show restraint in gently encouraging agencies for speculative ideas and not paying them for them.
There I said it and that was cathartic.