One of the things I enjoy most about my job is making a budget work hard for a client – and in recent years this has become ever more pertinent, due to the proliferation of comms channels and tactics. Conversely, one of the things I find most frustrating about my job…is being asked to guess what that budget might be.
I get the reasoning. Tell the agency how much you have to spend and *shock horror* they might actually spend it. But here’s another idea: Tell the agency how much you have to spend and the hours of work they put into developing a proposal are less likely to be wasted. Instead you’ll benefit from a considered approach that gives you the best possible advice on where and how to spend your money.
Make any competitive pitch more about choosing the agency that can demonstrate creative and pragmatic thinking – and less of a beauty parade of ‘maverick’ ideas, or a race to the bottom in terms of cost.
Setting options works well. Give the agency three levels of spend to work to, as this provides an opportunity to see how flexible an approach they can offer – it also offers you an insight into which elements of a campaign they see as the most important - and which become a ‘nice to have’ if budget allowed.
It all comes down to trust. If you fear an agency is just going to massage the numbers to meet your budget, they are probably not an agency you should be working with at all. Instead, you want a partner that relishes the detail, who knows how to achieve the best economies of scale – and who understands how to cut a budget in the most effective way.
Then you’ll truly benefit from an open, collaborative relationship that optimises your budget and delivers the best possible ROI.