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The endless question of cost and budget for marketing

During my experience as a marketer, the question of marketing budgets often came up. Behind its triviality, I always wondered if the best way to talk about a project was to start with its cost, even though it’s an important question. What is the best approach to settle this question once and for all?

Stop getting stuck on the budget issue

Few clients like to talk about their marketing spent. But all of them know that this question comes up at one point or another. What they basically need is reassurance, and you can do it very simply, upfront.

First, agree with your client that you will give a price estimate after a good overview of their needs and that this is even a guarantee for them to have a balanced budget.

Don’t miss an opportunity to contribute to the client’s thought process, and be proactive. Your input will help them to better figure out their actual needs and allow you to anticipate more what your work might look like.

When you give a price estimate, make it clear that it’s based on your knowledge of the project. And as the project scope evolves, the pricing may be re-discussed.

From this respect, agile billing is probably the most suitable, and you can recommend working this way if the project is relatively long with an evolving requirement set.

Don’t be afraid to talk real numbers

Any experienced consultant will tell you: their added value depends on how much time they can save their clients. Depending on the degree of expertise required, budgets spent on consulting vary greatly.

In all successful companies, marketing budgets take a significant share of their revenue. 11% on average, according to Gartner. Social media represented 12% of that marketing budget and will top 23% in the next 5 years, believe Deloitte. On average, businesses that outsource their social media marketing spend around $200-$350 a day. That is between $4000 and $7000 per month, $48,000-$84,000 per year.

These figures are averages regardless of the industry. But according to my experience, any organization spending less than 10% of its revenue on marketing is making a mistake.

Recognize when it is too early to talk about it

To assess a project, start with basic questions. What are the objectives? At what stage is the project? What help is needed? When would it start?

You can continue with more questions to assess the value you can add to it. Is it for a new product or a product with some publicity? Is the sector competitive or niche? How much time does your target need before making a purchase?

When a client can’t answer any of these and does not have a clear idea of the skills they are looking for, this means they are still in the early stages of their thinking process. If what they are looking for is simply an exchange of ideas, it’s up to you to see if you are willing to help.

By Max Schleiffer

Digital entrepreneur from Europe. I have grown a marketing consultancy over the decade. Now, I explore new ways of working in the digital age.