My View On Speculative Work

Dear enquirer:

Thanks for your interest in working together.

Unfortunately, I won't be able to pitch for your project as you've asked for free speculative design work as part of the process for me to try to "win" the project.

"Spec work" invariably leads to frustration for you and encourages a sub-par standard of work from the designers pitching. Why?

  1. From a business point of view, it makes no sense for you. Agencies have to charge higher fees to cover the work they produce but don't win. If you choose an agency that does spec work, you are paying for all their failed pitches as well as the one piece of work you are interested in.
  2. A good design is an informed design. This only comes through research and collaboration with the client — you know your audience best. A visually pleasing 'best guess' created upfront as part of a sales tactic is never a good design. Anything created without being informed is at best a pretty picture.
  3. I love my work and love showing off the diversity of work I’ve done (please ask to see the portfolio!) but that's because every project is crafted with thought and research, and with respect for my clients. I put all my resources into every client that engages me because I don't need to save the best ideas to sell myself to potential new clients.

I'm not unusual in the position of declining to partake in speculative work. Here are some links to just a few respected industry colleagues who feel the same way, and why:

Please also see The No!Spec campaign.

I understand you want to get the best work possible for your project, so I hope you accept my reasons for declining spec work.

I'd be delighted to show you how my best projects got off the ground, and how I could do the same for you.

Jeff Mackey

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