This may or may not seem odd being post on a forum primarily about web design and development but a good half of our workload at my firm has grown to include Marketing and Promotion.

We've been slowly climbing the ladder and have been getting opportunities to pitch to bigger and better clients.

The problem is that a number of times a lucrative opportunity is thrown on the table and the potential client says "bring me some ideas". My issue is that we spend 10 or 15 hours brainstorming and working through the financials and logistics (everything short of writing an entire strategy). At this point I don't have the clout to require a retainer for the pitch phase which is afforded by some of my much bigger competition.

How do I step into a meeting and present these ideas and keep the client from making notes and taking them back to their in-house staff (which has happened at least twice now). Some of our ideas are easily reproduced but amazingly the clients fail to discover them on their own but still if we bring it to the table and it gets used we should get compensated to some extent.

I'd like to hear from anyone with agency experience in how they dealt with this problem.

Thank You!