Friday, September 11, 2015

Penny Wise and Pound Foolish

Because this is the guy who gets credit for saying it, that's why.

Ok, with the "why is there a picture of Ben Franklin in a post about being penny wise and pound foolish?" question out of the way, let's move on to the subject at hand, shall we?

Which is, well, being penny wise and pound foolish.

Here's a short story.

We're in the process of doing a small brochure on a project basis. We quoted a price that included preparation of some specific artwork, but this client wanted to spend a lot less, so we eliminated that - and other things - from the proposal to get to their price point.

Long story short, that artwork has become a colossal pain in the ass and has delayed production of the brochure by at least three weeks. The main reason for the delay is that the client isn't really equipped to deal with this sort of pain in the ass and is having issues properly preparing the artwork.

Of course, we are equipped to do it. And we coulda done it. Long ago. But it wasn't part of the deal and the client didn't want to pay the extra cost for us to do the work, Of course, if they'd accepted our original price in the first place, this artwork would have still been a pain in the ass, but it would have been our pain in the ass, not theirs.

So what should have been a simple brochure has become a problem and is way overdue. For no good reason.

My point here is that there is often a false economy when you Do It Yourself. Which is to say when you get a proposal from an agency or design firm and you want it done for less, think about whether or not you can really take up the slack for things you don't want to pay for.

Maybe it's a good idea to let people who know how to do certain things do those certain things.

Of course, I tend to think that if the most important factor in getting something done is how cheaply you can get it done (as opposed to, say, how well it can be done), then don't do it at all.

That's the cheapest way there is.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Let's talk about the root of all evil

I say let's talk about money early on

Like many of us, I grew up being told it wasn't polite to talk about money. How much someone gets paid or laid out for a car, a house or a tie was none of my damn business, so don’t ask.

Maybe that's why many creative firms are reluctant to bring up the subject of money (as in b-u-d-g-e-t) early on in the conversation. That and maybe it takes away, somehow, the perception that we're all dedicated artists and gosh-I-just-do-this-for-the-love-of-it and money is secondary.

(We actually had a client say to us once in a meeting "I know you guys aren’t in it for the money . . . " At which point both of us leaped from our chairs to nip that particular line of thinking in the bud: "Actually, that's not true. We do it for the money.")

I think that often an agency doesn't want to talk about money because they are just so doggone focused on getting the job,they lose sight of the fact that it has to turn a profit.

As far as prospective clients go, a lot of them don’t want to talk about money because they would like it if you gave them a proposal that was well below what they have earmarked for a project or an agency fee thankyouverymuch.

It's amazing how often someone will answer the "what's your budget?" question with "I don't know" or "we don't really have one."  Really? You have no idea how much you are willing to spend for this? Of course, everybody in the room knows that they do have a budget or even a rough idea of how much they can spend or think is appropriate to spend. It's a silly, silly game to play. But it's been played or years. It just won't die, you know?

At the risk of sounding like I'm only in it for the money, budget is one of the very first things you need to get sorted out, whether you're an agency or a client. That's because the whole idea of finding the right creative firm to work with you and the right client with whom to work is determining whether this is going to be a good marriage.

And, in addition to chemistry, category experience and quality of the work, money is a pretty significant indicator of whether or not it's a good match.That's just reality.

So if you're a client, it's going to make things a whole lot easier for everybody and help you find the right agency more quickly if you 1) have an idea of your budget, 2) tell the agency what it is and 3) be aware that they will want to spend it all.  (And why not? That's what it's for, right?) The question is who will spend it all most wisely and get the most out of it for you.

And if you just absolutely, positively, have some block about being willing to divulge the amount of money you may or may not spend with those people across the table with whom you may enter into a relationship, do this:  Ask them what sort of budget range works best for them as far as a client is concerned. Just as a client really ought to have a budget figure in mind, a professional creative firm ought to have a figure in mind below which they can't really afford to do the work.  The key is for everybody to know that there is a financial fit in there somewhere.

Of course, if you're a creative firm, you have to find out early on whether or not the piece of business you are discussing is one you ought to be pursuing.

As awkward as it may be discussing money, once it's over and done with, everybody seems to feel better. You either know you're in a good place as far as what you want to spend and/or need to earn, or you're not.

And if you're not, everybody can stop wasting any more time on it and you can go out and get some lunch.