How many times do you hear, “Why don’t you come back and tell us how much it will cost?” followed three weeks later by “we can’t afford that, are you insane?”
Like me, you’ve probably heard it far too often. I fully appreciate the thinking behind this old technique but ultimately this model wastes everybody’s time. We all know budgets have been allocated so full disclosure would be a wise and excellent choice. It’s much easier to tell the agency exactly how much you have to spend and what you would expect in return, then let them come back and either agree on delivery within budget or tell you where the shortfall may lie. Amazingly this conversation creates trust, clarity, and manages expectations all in one. Excellent stuff.
Imagine how the same non-budget brief would impact our friendly neighbourhood real estate agent. Call begins. “Hello I’m looking for a place to live”, starts Secretive budget man (SBM), agent replies, “Great what’s your budget?” SBM replies, “You tell me, now go away and come back with some options in one week please”. Confused our agent digs deeper, “Do you need a 1 bedroom flat or a 5 bedroom house?” Taken aback by this, Secretive Budget Man explains, “Well I’m not telling you, that it would influence the price you give me”. Our estate agent puts the phone down and doesn’t know where to begin, so chances are she won’t. Secretive Budget Man repeats the process with other estate agents but to no avail and ends up living in a small box somewhere on an abandoned parking lot in Morpeth.
If these wonderfully crazy feats of human ideation never make it into production, and they don’t, then I ask you what is the point?
Now I think of it I have never been in a presentation when, if left to its own devices, the agency has presented a budget that the client has been happy to approve or was expecting. Yes it’s true that open budget briefs can produce wildly creative ideas, but if these wonderfully crazy feats of human ideation never make it into production, and they don’t, then I ask you what is the point?
Proper budgets get the best out of agencies making sure that clients get the best agency fit for their buck. Personally, I believe that when an agency is committed to delivering a proper scope of work within clear budgetary constraints, that’s when we get the creative juices flowing properly and with real purpose.