There are few things more frustrating to clients than going over budget on a project, and few things more nerve-racking to a design agency than having to inform them of such. Unfortunately, getting a budget exactly right is more of an art than a science, one that includes the time it takes for services to be rendered and a keen attention to a client’s organizational and behavioral qualities. In order to get the most out of your agency relationship, and avoid blowing your budget, we recommend taking the following into account:
Establish a Realistic Budget
Don’t expect to receive a shopping cart worth of products and services if you’re only committed to paying a third of what the total is worth. If you somehow manage to receive the whole cart for a lower price, don’t expect the items to be of very good quality. Branding, websites, and marketing cost money, and good ones cost even more. Before approaching an agency, do some quick research to find out what the standard prices on the market are to determine what the current budget you have in mind will actually get you.
Nail Down Project Objectives Beforehand
Whether it’s a promotional ad or a full website, failure to nail down what the objectives and parameters of a particular project are is the number one reason clients lose money. Unfortunately, we see it all the time in our line of work. Clients come to us with an idea in mind, which we then proceed to work towards, and then either allow others to alter the direction or simply change their mind. This can be devastating for a budget as it often requires designers and developers to start over again from scratch. So either nail down your specific business goals before you approach a creative agency, or talk them out with the company before the project starts.
Have A Single Point of Contact
Having a single point of contact (on both the agency and the client side) is extremely important as it helps to keep the relationship uncomplicated. When there’s too many people involved in the communication between the agency and the client, it can get fairly complex and take a significant amount of additional, billable time. Make sure that whoever you decide to represent your company in this important relationship is aware of the objectives of the project, as well as organized, responsive, and able to make certain project decisions on their own.
Have a Plan for Content
Copy, images, and videos—these types of content need to come from somewhere. Content is one of the key elements that can prevent a project from being completed on time and budget. This is usually because business owners start out with every intention of providing it themselves, yet find that they’re too busy to complete it. Efficient clients know when they’re able to provide content (and what types) and when they need to seek out the assistance of a professional. Whatever you decide, remember that having a professional create, review, or edit your content will add additional time to your budget.
Respond in a Timely Manner
Responsive clients are probably some of the most pleasant for agencies to work with because the communication is often open and fluid. From experience, there is nothing worse than having to send a client multiple correspondences to receive the answer to an important question because they’ve disappeared—yet again. Make sure that you respond to your agency as quickly as possible. This will prevent your project from becoming delayed and your company from possibly facing rush charges (time and a half) because of last-minute requests (same day or next day).
Understand That Agencies Have More Than One Client
Sometimes, clients are so caught up in their own company’s inner workings that they forget that creative agencies usually have a multitude of projects going on simultaneously. Everything takes time (especially show-stopping branding). Keep in mind that agencies work with multiple clients, and that your to-do list will need to be added to a schedule where other deadlines are also promised. This can result in your changes taking upwards of a few days to complete, even small ones. Efficient clients have realistic expectations and plan ahead, providing requests to their agency with plenty of time before their expected due date.
Know When to Trust Their Agency
While it’s true that no one can know your company like you do, it’s also true that creative agencies know best when it comes to designing effective web and print materials. Knowing when to trust your agency’s experience results in a better product, as well as a lower budget by avoiding an overabundance of unnecessary phone calls and meetings. The rule of thumb for agencies is that if it takes time away from performing work for another client, it gets billed. So multiple, hour-long phone calls can quickly eat away at a strict budget. If before you even start a project you know that you’re going to need the reassurance that comes with frequent meetings, include this time into your budget and set a time or frequency limit to keep yourself on schedule.
Pay On Time
Failing to pay your agency in a timely manner after receiving an invoice can prevent your company from moving forward with the project, obtaining future services, or receiving live files. Agencies often have signed contracts detailing the agreed upon payment plan in order to protect themselves from risky clients. These contracts can sometimes include an interest rate for jobs not paid by a certain pre-determined time. In order to maintain a respectful and pleasant relationship with your agency, avoid interest, and show them your appreciation for a job well done, pay your invoices as soon as you receive them.
These are just some of the ways, from our personal experience, that clients can contribute to a project going off course and blowing a budget. In order to get the most out of your agency relationship, we recommend approaching a creative agency after you’ve considered the items listed above. Remember that your agency is your partner, and that reputable companies are as invested in your objectives as you are. To learn about the Green Group Studio difference, or to start a marketing, branding, or design project of your own, call 561-594-7336 today!