To charge or not to charge? That is the question.

A positive outcome from my marketing activities is to be asked to meet with a prospective client. It’s always good to have a face-to-face meeting rather than email or telephone contact. It’s so important for me to develop a good rapport with my clients. And, of course, vice-versa.

I’m usually asked after these meetings to put together some thoughts and ideas for the prospect. These often take the form of an outline marketing plan or possible media campaign. I am happy to do this, but am increasingly wondering if I should do so free of charge.

I take real care over my proposals. It’s not unusual to spend a half or full day in making sure I create something professional. I know I can’t expect all of my ideas to be accepted, but I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve sent through a carefully crafted proposal only to hear nothing from the potential client.

I know that my proposals are always good quality. I know that my rates are not high. I don’t think I’m a difficult person to work with. I’m beginning to wonder, therefore, whether I’m simply being tapped for free advice and ideas.

Should I charge for my proposals?

With this in mind, I’m wondering whether I should charge for my initial proposals. Any charge could be offset against future work I’m then commissioned to undertake for the prospect.

Sounds fair? But would I be cutting off my nose to spite my face? Is part of being in a creative industry having to accept that there is no copyright on ideas? Do I just need to ‘suck it up’ and accept that this is the way it is?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this issue. It’s very tricky and, hand on heart, I don’t think I’m ready to take such a radical step. Please share your experiences below.

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