Article / Hunter’s guide to Series
Hunter’s guide to…
How much does it cost to…? What’s your budget for…? Considering this is one of those questions we receive weekly in conversations with founders, marketers and entrepreneurs we thought it would be a great topic to cover in a Hunter’s guide.
Here’s the situation. You want somebody to do something and you want to know how much it will cost. You’re speaking to a few different companies to get their thoughts on the costs, timings and deliverables. From there you’ll have a better idea of what you’ll need to budget.
For fun, let’s just assume you need to cut some wood. There are three options. An axe, a hand saw or a chainsaw. You decide on an axe. An axe comes in different sizes, various designs and a range of prices. Which is better? Which is faster? Which will do the job? Do you just need it for a one-off or is it something you want for many many years to come? In a quick Google search asking “What’s the average price of axes” we get anything from $15 through to $400. So how much do you want to spend on an axe? Okay, we hope you’re getting the point… the answer is it depends.
Start the relationship off on the right foot
Dancing around the question when it comes to budget, isn’t the best way to start off a relationship. If you’re a business owner, marketer or someone else responsible for the budgets then it’s your job to provide the agency with an honest answer.
Top-down or bottom-up?
There are two scenarios when it comes to budgeting. One is you want to achieve certain deliverables and you’re looking to the agency for budget guidance. The other is you’ve already set a budget and you’re wondering what can be done for this amount of money.
Either way, share your brief and expectations with the agency to get their feedback and thoughts. What you’re trying to achieve is a win-win outcome. The agency is a business and needs to make a profit as well. The last thing you want to do is to screw them down on price. Conversely, an agency shouldn’t misspend the budget and suggest things that are unnecessary to the branding process.
Buy cheap, buy twice
Price can be a huge determinant behind the final decision when it comes to selecting a branding agency. One agency said it will cost $100k and the other said $35k. We cannot tell you which is better as that’s for you to decide. However, when you remove the costs, look at the quality of their work, the experience of their people and their ability to deliver… and you might start to see some cracks. Having said that, a low price might simply mean they run lean as a business, whereas if you’re hiring a larger agency… typically their overheads could be much higher.
What about value creation?
Not all branding agencies are equal. Some agencies are set up as process-driven workhorses. And that’s cool if you need a whole bunch of brochures designed quickly with little to no creative or strategic input. These companies and individuals are typically found on platforms like Fiverr.com and there’s nothing wrong with that. If you need a template designed for Xero or a PowerPoint presentation for an upcoming sales conference knocked out quickly… then they’re your people. The value they provide is fairly small and short-term. When you’re a start-up… your objective is to launch and grow. When you’re a scale-up your objective is to grow grow grow. If you’re a brand or business that’s lost its way… then you’re looking for someone to help you reboot. These in our opinion are opportunities to help you as a business create future value. They are typically longer-term relationships and obviously, the budget will reflect this.
We know that talking about money can often make people feel uncomfortable. And as a result, it can create that awkward dance between you and the agencies you’re speaking with. A better approach is to be straight-up and let them know what you’re looking for and how much you have to spend. If your budget and expectations are unrealistic then most agencies will communicate this to you. If they can’t find a solution or meet you halfway that’s fine… but always ask them to recommend other agencies or even freelancers who they think might be able to help. At the end of the day, most people will help wherever they can as it’s the right thing to do. Good luck.