If you're gun shy about disclosing your marketing budget, join the crowd. Maybe you were traumatized by a used car salesman at a tender age, or got a hose job from an unscrupulous ad agency, and you've learned to hold the money cards.
We would kindly suggest, get over it. It's hurting your ability to get the best from your agency, and lack of transparency on either side of the agency/client relationship erodes trust. And, if you don't' trust your agency, why are you working with them?
Bereft of a budget, agencies will punt with an array of strategies, and none work to your advantage:
- Guess based on marketing allocations within your industry, and inquiries to publishers and media outlets to determine what you spent in the past.
- Over plan for a budget you don't have, which wastes your time and the agency's.
- Go low, cut corners, and pile on features by using junior people to execute your work.
- And the good agencies, the one's you most want on your work, will simply choose not to play.
In other words, you're inviting agencies to take a trip to Walmart with your very important project.
Instead of telling an agency to plop out a number for, say, a website. Ask which of your important goals can they achieve within your budget. Find out how they plan to allocate your budget and what they will deliver. If you're running a review, or a competition for a prime project, leveling the field is the only way you can realistically compare agencies – at least on a financial basis.
Laying your budget on the line may seem counterintuitive. After all, if we know what's in your piggy bank, won't we spend it all? Darn tooting! You told us the important objectives you want to achieve. And you determined that if you invested "x" amount in marketing, the ROI would make it worth it. So why not cough up the numbers?
All this takes valuable time and energy, which should be applied to determining strategy and the most effective way to allocate the budget you do have.
Reap the Rewards of Transparency
- Tell your agency your marketing objectives strategy and budget. And focus your agency team on developing the most effective way to spend it.
- Evaluate agencies based on what they can do for your money, not how much they spend.
- Create an atmosphere of transparency and trust from the start. Agencies will respond with extra attention and work to live up to their part of the bargain.