There is a fuzzy line between doing spec work (work on speculation without being paid) and sharing your ideas, especially in the design industry.
In a recent Sound Advice (my free weekly audio clip), I told a story about how Jonathan Cleveland of Cleveland Design was awarded a project (over 15 other firms) in an industry in which he had no experience (and they all did) by submitting a few "comps" or design ideas along with his RFP (proposal).
Several listeners questioned his strategy, calling it "spec work" which is a big no-no. So I went back to Jonathan for clarification of the difference between doing spec work and sharing his ideas as a way to get the job, in a difficult economy, no less.
In essence, he said the difference was 1) it was not expected or required to submit design ideas (it was up to him to offer it as a bonus) PLUS 2) he called them first to find out what they were looking for, so he had more knowledge about the client's needs than the others who simply hadn't asked for that info and could therefore submit ideas that were relevant to their needs.
You can listen to him explain that distinction in detail….and please post your comments and tell us what you think of that fuzzy line we're drawing in the sand.
P.S. If you're wondering whether the client used the initial design, Jonathan says, "Yes, they can’t wait to use this design! We are starting all the projects now. So not only did it get us the account, but we are still getting paid for the “Design” fee portion of our Proposal. So in essence, it paid for itself."