When you are in the market to buy something, one of the most critical factors to consider is your budget. It doesn’t matter if you’re buying dinner or a home, you need to know what you can afford before you can even get started. However, that basic rule seems to sometimes elude those in the market for marketing.
You might be surprised how often we hear “I don’t have a budget” or “I don’t have any money at all” – especially from prospects who want it all. This usually results in sticker shock from the client and an aggravated agency that spent time on a proposal that was destined to go nowhere before it began. So how do we make the process better for everyone involved?
If There’s a Need, There’s a Budget
Simply put, if someone has a need, whether it’s help with their marketing or a new auto, it means it’s something they cannot do without. There’s a big difference between “wants” and “needs” – the former would be nice to have; the latter is a necessity.
In the world of marketing, needs are those things like product books or service offering brochures, a website or other elements that a business simply cannot grow without. There may be some overlap or misunderstanding between what truly is a need versus a want – particularly for smaller businesses starting out – but an agency can help you set the right priorities.
However, this can only happen if you’re transparent with your agency, which is there to serve as your potential marketing partner. And that open communication starts with sharing your budget.
You Need to Trust Your Agency – From the Start
Many potential clients may say they don’t have an amount set aside or don’t know their budget, but the truth is usually they are guarding what they plan to spend. It’s understandable, to a degree – you don’t want your agency to use up your entire budget if it’s not needed. But working with an agency should mean that you’re working with a partner.
We’re more akin to doctors than car salesmen. Your agency want to make you and your business better, and that means being open and honest with us.
Remember, agencies exist to help businesses increase customers, sales and profits, and, in turn, encourage those businesses to increase their marketing efforts. As we always say to clients, marketing isn’t a cost, it’s an investment. It’s a colossal waste of time for your prospective agency to create a full plan only for you to say it’s too much. And frankly, if you distrust your prospective marketing partner and expect that they exist only to spend your money – before you’ve even started – perhaps they aren’t the agency for you.
Time Has a Cost – For All Parties
Time is money – that’s true in pretty much any industry or field. It’s also why we need to know what we’re working with when putting together estimates and plans for a prospective client.
When we evaluate plans, we have to look at the full range of costs that can make up a comprehensive strategy. That means both internal costs for creative works, copywriting, development and account management, and the external costs for placement, printing and distribution. Then we have to contrast that with a client’s budget, prioritizing what we feel will have the greatest impact with how far the marketing dollars can stretch.
If we don’t have a budget established to frame the conversation, we’re shooting in the dark. We have to spend time researching, quoting and putting together a proposal or quote to requests for information. And then, more often than not, it’s not even that we get a “no” in return, it’s that the person never had set a budget parameter in the first place. That means by the time we’re done, we’ve spent time putting a plan together that may be way under or over budget and outside of the expectations the client had – but never shared with us.
The takeaway here is that a budget is critical – not only for us, as an agency, so that we fully understand your budget as part of the proposal and prospecting process, but also for you to know what your outlay will be for the campaign, as well.
Where Else Would This Happen?
Outside of the marketing world, this concept seems entirely foreign and inconceivable. You wouldn’t start to negotiate on a house or car you could never afford. You wouldn’t rack up a tab at the bar and not be able to pay it. A budget is absolutely critical for yourself and the seller, but only in the world of marketing does it seem commonplace to keep that information hidden.
Agencies like JFG offer a number of advantages, including a talented team of creative staff, copywriters, social media and digital strategists and account managers who can help achieve your goals. And, most importantly, we are honest and never take advantage of clients because we are looking to establish long-lasting relationships. But for all our talents, none of us here are psychics, so we really do need input on budgets.
If we have to guess at your budget, will we also have to guess at your goals or what you will gauge as your sign of success or failure? Tell us what you want to do and how much you can spend to do it and we can tell you whether we can do something or not. No guesswork. No misconceptions, overestimating or underpromising. No nonsense – just results.
Be Open with Us – And We’ll Be Open with You
At the end of the day, knowing your budget doesn’t just help us put together a plan to meet your price point and goals, but helps us understand where you’re currently at and where you want to be as a result of marketing efforts. As your partner, the team at JFG exists to help increase your business and grow your sales, donations or other profits. When we succeed, you succeed. So let’s develop success together.
Whether you’re new to marketing, looking to expand your current efforts or want to see how a new partner can give your advertising fresh perspective and insight, we’d love to talk with you. Call our team today at 716.433.7688 or submit a contact form online and let’s get started.
Bringing with him more than a decade of experience in traditional and online news media, digital marketing and content production experience, Ryan Yaeger is the copywriter and digital content strategist at J. Fitzgerald Group. When not busy wordsmithing at his proverbial word anvil or working on client SEO, you can find him testing new board games or cheering for the Bills or Sabres.