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The Follow Up: What To Do When You Lost The Bid

Question: How should I follow up with a job that fell through post-bid?

When you asked to bid a job and it’s awarded to someone else, there are many factors to consider, from how you handled the creative conversations to your estimate to how you presented your work.

But the most important factor to remember is that the client has seen your work, liked your work and considered you as a realistic candidate to shoot or illustrate the assignment. Whether you got the job or not, you have opened a door to this client.

Please Don’t Push the Buyer

There are important steps to take to keep that door open. But none of them is to push the client for a reason why you weren’t hired.

Clients may not be willing to divulge why you weren’t awarded the assignment, so please don’t press them. Instead, thank them for considering you and tell them you’re sorry it didn’t work out this time – just make sure you mention “this time,” so they know to consider you the next time.

If it’s an account you really wanted, think about sending the client a little treat, thanking him or her for considering you. A handwritten thank-you note goes really far. I still remember the words from reps thanking me for the opportunity to bid.

Stay On Their Radar

In conversations about the project, potential clients will often mention images of yours they liked. When you do additional shooting or new illustrations similar to those images, send the new work to the potential client. It’s an important step to keeping yourself on their radar.

Of course, it’s always nice to just check in from time to time – but just to make sure they remember you and your work.

One time, I had a client estimate a project for Splenda and its qualities as a baking ingredient. When she didn’t get the project, she sent them a cookie-cutter from her hometown, along with some cookie dough and a note: “Thank you for allowing us to estimate for your Splenda campaign. Sorry we didn’t get it, but that is the way the cookie crumbles.”

The art buyer loved it!

About Suzanne

Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators all over the world, and is also a partner in the Creative Collision video series featured on Agency Access’ blog, The Lab. Suzanne has been heavily involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, giving her the opportunity to work with some of the most established artists in the business. She founded the art buying department at The Martin Agency in 1988 and left in 1999. She has also worked for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and smaller agencies and companies. Suzanne Sease Productions

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2. A Little Back-and-Forth on Growing Your Illustration Business

3. The Portfolio Edit: Curating Your Chaos

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