Do you use mock ups as a marketing tool?

In sifting through 25 applicants for a project I posted on elance, one web design firm set themselves apart. They promised a mock up of a site within 2 days, for free, with no obligation.

I love this approach. In a site known for impersonal bidding, here was a company that was willing to invest a bit of time in the relationship.

And they delivered with a good looking home page mockup within 2 days — and then responded to some advice from me. I’m not looking at any other bidders. Why would I (given that their design was good)?

In advertising, that’s what firms do: They pitch creative ideas to clients BEFORE getting hired.

It’s how it should be.

But I bet many of you disagree….To me, unless you come via a solid referral, you will forever be one of the 24 that didn’t get picked.