David Airey is an independent graphic designer working with companies of all sizes since 2005.

The Win Without Pitching Manifesto

Win Without Pitching Manifesto

“We do not begin to solve our clients’ problems before we are engaged.”
— BLAIR ENNS

I’ve been dipping in and out of Blair Enns’ Win Without Pitching Manifesto for the past week. Lots of solid advice to use when dealing with clients. Here’s an example.

“Only We Present Our Work.

“Whenever our diagnostic findings, strategic recommendations, or creative solutions are presented to anyone in our client companies, it will be personnel from our firm that does so.”

I’ve worked on projects where my ideas were delivered to boards of directors through middle-people — brand managers, for instance. So I wasn’t there to guide decision-makers or answer questions. This meant much more back-and-forth where the board would relay thoughts through my contact, kind of like Chinese whispers. Not ideal for either of us.

Win Without Pitching Manifesto

One general premise of Blair’s book is that if a design studio is asked to pitch for a client’s business, the studio should be paid to write the proposal.

“Doctors charge for MRIs. Accountants charge for audits. Lawyers charge for discovery. And we charge for our diagnostic work as well, whether it is a brand audit or discovery session that we conduct ourselves, or outside research that we commission.”

Win Without Pitching Manifesto

You can read The Win Without Pitching Manifesto for free online, purchase in digital format, or buy a hard copy:

On Amazon.com

You can follow the author (and fellow Liverpool supporter) Blair Enns on Twitter.

Looking for other good books? Here are a few.

My second book on Amazon

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19 comments about “The Win Without Pitching Manifesto”

  1. What a great lesson. It’s so true. We give away so much of our critical and analytic skills right up front, when realistically, it’s actually very, very valuable. Great lesson here! Thanks David.

  2. This looks really good, David! I think I’m definitely going to buy this…

  3. Excellent post David. Blair does good stuff. I’ve always wanted to attend one of his seminars (one day).

  4. So many truthful reminders in such a simple post. Thanks David.

  5. I love their attitude, I also do not solve problems without being paid first.

    Why would a designer even ‘want’ to work with a company that thinks it’s ok for a designer to spend their time giving them great ideas without being paid for it. As if ideas are valueless.

    If said company has that sort of attitude (we want something for nothing and ideas aren’t really that valuable are they) before they’ve even hired you, they are only going to turn out to be a client from hell horror story.

  6. Looks like a good read!

  7. Always hate when you can’t present your work or findings face to face with the decision makers.

    One thing really concerns me about this post David…….Liverpool?

  8. Sounds like a really great book. It is true that we really have to concentrate on our present clients and not bother ourselves with the past or future clients. Sound opinion. I do need this book. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Blair touches on such a true subject. I’ve never thought of it in that way before because the designers are always the one’s trying to win over the client but we are then giving away all this knowledge that they could then use bits from along with their chosen design agency.

  10. @Rob

    I agree with you on both points!

    Clearly the only team worth supporting in the Premier League is Stoke City.

  11. Another great book David, how did you find it ? The cover looks classic, looks more like a notebook outside.

    “Doctors charge for MRIs. Accountants charge for audits. Lawyers charge for discovery. And we charge for our diagnostic work as well, whether it is a brand audit or discovery session that we conduct ourselves, or outside research that we commission.”

    I appreciate this quote very much, some folk simply think of Designer as someone uses softwares to arrange things around, but forget the value of creative side.
    There is a book, I think they have a series I ‘ve seen in bookstore called “idea selling” by Sam Harrison. It is slightly different, giving sale person tips to guide the decision maker toward a direction.

  12. Looks like I will be ordering another book to add to the collection. Thanks for posting.

    -Dan

  13. Not the best of times to support Liverpool, Rob, albeit from my armchair. My big bro got me started as a kid.

    Tin, I’ve been chatting with Blair on and off for a year or two now. He helped me with some of my book content, too, which was much appreciated.

  14. I saw Blair at a DBA lecture in London. He is a great speaker. I have a load of notes from the talk somewhere. In essence he believes we sell ourselves cheap.

    We need to define our area of expertise and specialize (which is what most designers don’t want to do!). But I think he is right.

    He was very good talking about procurement issues etc. If you get a chance, go and see him.

  15. Some really interesting points there. But I dont see how we designers could charge for writing a proposal when there is so many people out there willing to do it for free.

    As a whole there are too many non professionals out there in this industry. I can not get a degree in business, then decide I want to call myself a Doctor. Whereas this happens a lot in the design industry, people calling themselves designers when they are not qualified.

  16. What a great book for a time like this! One of my rules when designing an identity is ” let it speaks for itself ”. Because, some times when i make proposals to an organization, I may not have the chance to see the MD. But my lovely looking document moves in with pride.

  17. Nice find, I am in total agreement with some of the statements you showcased.

    I am off to read the whole thing before I think I will get myself a nice printed copy to keep on my desk as a reminder to follow it’s guidance.

    Really, if we don’t put a value on what we do, how do we ever expect to be paid for it? (or train the client to expect to pay for the expertise we use to benefit their business)

  18. Awesome book. Roughly 1/2 way in, and It’s the most practical book on creative billing philosophy I’ve come across.

  19. David, I just saw Blair, and he mentioned this review. Glad to see it, and nice photos.

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