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Do you have a budget in mind?

It’s an age-old problem for agencies and clients alike. During the pitch process, should a client disclose a budget? The answer, in short, is yes.

Some clients might think that by telling the agency how much they have to spend, they will take advantage and see it as an opportunity to milk the client for all its worth.

“If I tell the agency I’ve got £50K they’ll come back with a proposal for £50K”

While a client might think this is a bad thing, it’s exactly what we should do.

The reality is that without a framework to work to, the agency is guessing at what level and what complexity to present its ideas. Contrary to (some people’s) opinion, putting accurate costs to a marketing communications programme is rather difficult to do.

Simply saying “here is a communications / business problem, come back with some ideas and costs” is not always the best use of everyone’s time. While some might argue that by giving an agency a budget it restricts the creativity and overall approach, the reality is that without some kind of guide agencies don’t always know which particular route is best.

Inevitably what happens is that the agency will come back to the client with the Rolls Royce of proposals to demonstrate all the different options available, at which point the client clutches their heart in mock (sometimes real) terror and admits there’s no way they can afford it.

What that leads to is a load of work for the agency in researching and presenting myriad options the client can never afford and disappointment for the client in a Bullseye-esque ‘here’s what you could have won’ type way.

So the next time you brief an agency for a project or pitch and they ask you if you have a budget in mind, tell them. That way you’ll get a tailored and realistic proposal to meet your communications needs.