Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The eternal triangle

I had a phone call yesterday afternoon asking for a price on a piece of work. The call went something like this:

Prospective client: I need a brochure written, what will it cost?

Me: Okay, let's step back a bit. Can I check what outcome you want to achieve? Who's your audience and what's their expectation. Actually, I've got quite a few of this kind of question, so can you run me through the story of what you're looking to do?

PC: Listen, I need a brochure - do you want the work?

Me: Okay. Let's focus on a brochure. Same questions: who's it for? What's its purpose? Are you thinking electronic, print or both? What other comms tools do you use and how will this fit in? Wh...

PC: FFS. Look we're a new independent financial services business and want to have a brochure to send to prospective clients and leave behind when we do face to face sales calls. We're launching next month. We've got the website and the logo and need the brochure as soon as possible.

Me: Okay.....So in effect, you want two pieces of communication - one to mail and then one for meetings.

PC: No, why would we want two?
Me: Err, won't people be getting the same piece of collateral twice?
PC: That doesn't matter. Just tell me how much a brochure will cost.
Me: How long's a piece of string?
PC: What the f***? Are you taking the piss?
Me: No, but I suspect you may be. The cost of a brochure will depend on quite a few factors - the content, the design, imagery, the ease of getting hold of information and the time it takes me and a designer to come up with a draft. From draft stage there's time involved on both sides to get to a finished product. Then there'll be print costs, distribution costs etc. etc. At this stage with no kind of brief, I can't quote a price. I need far more information from you.
PC: Well, my mate Jeff reckoned an eight pager should cost no more than £2K - how does that sound?

Me: Meaningless - do you mean just the copy, just the design, just the printing or what? I think you need to sit down and come up with a rather more detailed spec before asking for prices.

PS: Listen mate. I know what I want. I want an eight page brochure to be delivered by the end of next week and I want it cheap. Comprendez?

Me: Okay mate: I can put all my other client work aside for the next few days, engage a design firm work with you to devise the copy, work with them to come up with a design concept and if you agree to it immediately, we can get a rush print job done next week....after the Bank Holiday. I'll charge a premium rate for my time as this is a rush job and you'll also pay a packet for the designer. We'll probably have to pay more for a rush job at the printers since nothing's yet booked in - and the job will probably suffer in quality for the lack of a proper brief and the fact that it'll all be rushed. And, if you suddenly decide to make changes at the 11th hour the budget and timescale could all go out the window.
I can do quick to the best of my ability but it'll cost you more.
I can do a very cost-efficient job at high quality if you give me the time to structure it properly.

All you'll get in your timescales for the kind of money Jeff's talking about is something quick and dirty. Is that how you really want to communicate your new business?

PC: Yea right. I'll call you back.

He hasn't.......

Fit for purpose costs, whether it's in time, money or both. Fast? High quality? Cheap? Perm two from three.