Saturday, February 5, 2011

"How Much Will It Cost?"

If there's one question I receive most frequently, this is it. Budgets are tight. Margins are thin. It's not an unreasonable question.

It's also almost impossible to answer without more information and some thinking ahead on the part of the customer.

The best possible answer to this question is another question: "What's your budget for this project, and what do you hope to achieve with it?" You see, only you can decide if a given expenditure is worth the return you're hoping to get. Let's say you want to increase your gross revenues 15% in the coming quarter and, for your particular business, that means increasing them by $150,000. Spending $90,000 on a series of full-page ads placed in national magazines probably isn't worth it - you're spending half of your goal revenue right up front. On the other hand, spending $800 simply won't buy you enough of a campaign to realistically reach your goal. You'll be throwing that money away. The truth, as always, lies somewhere in-between, and we'll need to discuss that tradeoff together to find the right amount that will give you the best value for your money.

However, many small (and even quite a few medium and large) businesses have approached me lately asking the "how much will it cost" question, and have only "as much as we can" for a goal, and "as little as possible" for a budget. And folks, there's just no answer to that. It's like walking into a store and asking the salesperson "how much will it cost" without saying what it is that you want to buy. What answer could he or she give you? In the marketing case, your goal could be anything. And how much will it cost to do "anything"? Even if you know that you want a brochure or a magazine ad, the variations on even those relatively concrete items are almost endless.

So, before you approach any marketing agency, have a concrete goal in mind and think about how much your budget will support to achieve that goal. A real professional will need that information before they can give you a realistic answer to your "how much will it cost" question and whether it's possible to reach your goal with your budget. You see, we in the marketing industry really do want you to succeed. The better you do, the more other clients will want our services. Customer success: It's what we do!

In the case of The McNaughton Group, once we have this discussion we'll give you a clear written estimate of the costs for your project right up front. You'll have your answer, right there in black and white.

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