A Few Quick Tips to Avoid Budget Surprises
When it comes to budgets, nobody likes surprises that cost money. Most people assume that it’s the large, out-of-scope tasks that derail a budget, but we’ve learned over the years that the more mundane, day-to-day tasks are often the culprit.
Here are a few tips to eliminate the most common surprises:
• Settle on final copy and content early, and avoid changes once design and layout begin. This is true whether you are developing the copy, or we are. Our proposed fees are based on two rounds of minor edits to the layout proofs and a final round for approval. We’ll have to spend more time adjusting the design if we are asked to work with copy that isn’t final, or if you are making numerous text and image edits after design/layout begins.
• Keep your decision-makers to a minimum. We understand that others in your organization might need to approve solutions, but it’s best if one or two staff members have the authority to approve strategy and concepts. The approved solution can then be shared with other staff and board members, along with the reasons and smart, strategic thinking that led to the solution. Too much subjective input from too many individuals leads to confusion and more time and money spent on refinement.
• Provide high-quality, printable photography. Removing telephone wires, adjusting skin tone, adding color, etc., is time-consuming. Sometimes this is necessary, but remember that there may be an additional cost.
• Keep it simple. There are countless print or interactive development options, and we are happy to explore all of them if necessary. Remember, though, that it takes time to research paper options, print formats, pricing, interactive strategies, etc. If your budget is limited (aren’t they all?), then we will assume that the most straight-forward execution (albeit creative!) makes the most sense.
• Have a due date in mind and stick to it. We recently completed a relatively straight-forward assignment that lasted over a year because our client did not need the solution in hand at any particular time. Without a project end-date, it’s easy to continue to adjust to this copy and that photo…forever. This always leads to more rounds of proofs, additional project management, and extra costs.
• Charts take time. It’s important that we know if charts and/or illustrations are needed when we propose a project. Clients sometimes send along (“slip in” sounds deliberately deceptive) charts, graphs, tables, etc., when they provide copy, not realizing that they take additional time to design.
When we propose an assignment (large or small), we describe our understanding of your communication needs and the services necessary to provide the best solutions. It makes sense that we may need to adjust fees as your needs evolve or become better defined. Keep this in mind, as well as the tips above, and hopefully all your surprises will be good ones.