Despite many years experience pursuing new business, I remain flummoxed when potential clients won’t tell me their budget during the proposal process. Instead, they say things like “we want to see what you think it costs” or “we’re considering a variety of options.” I think it stems from a distrust of agencies, an idea that we are going to try and milk clients for every dime we can. Some agencies may do that, and I’m sure many of you have had bad experiences that drive this tactic. However, not being explicit about what you want, or have, to spend on a project is actually a disadvantage to you. You should always share your budget during your first conversation with any prospective agency, and here’s why:
If I know your budget, I can write you a customized proposal that costs what you actually want to spend. There will be no surprises when you open it and you can move quickly along in your decision-making process. Alternatively, if you don’t tell me your budget, you may open that proposal and find a number that you can’t afford, or don’t wish to spend. Then you have to call me, and I have to rewrite it and send it back to you. You’ve now lost days in your process, or worse, you’ve written us immediately off as “too expensive” and you go with the lower-price, though not necessarily higher quality, proposal.
Giving all the competing firms the same budget allows you to actually compare what you are getting for your money. For X dollars, Firm A offers me services 1, 2, 3. For the same dollars, Firm B offers me services 1, 2, 3 and 4. Otherwise you end up with proposals with budgets and services that are all over the map.
As the client, your goal is to go from Point A to Point B. Whether Point B is increasing market share, building awareness, or influencing decision-makers, there are lots of ways to get there. Each way has its own associated cost. We could launch a sweeping, national campaign with digital, traditional media and grassroots elements. Or we could launch a highly targeted campaign streamlined to reach your highest priority targets. Understanding how much money you have earmarked for this effort allows me to give you realistic, customized recommendations.
This is the second in a series of blog posts focused on the three things Jenny wants you to know on any topic.