Money Talks - Budget

The Money Talk: Why Transparency is Key in Agency Collaboration

John Supsic

Let me set the stageyou are a CMO who just wrapped up an initial call with a potential agency partner where you instantly clicked with them. And, best of all, they checked (almost) all of the boxes – they passed the ‘would you have a drink with them’ test, they have the capabilities to provide all of the deliverables to achieve your goals, and they can hit your timelines (and good thing, because it is looking like a tight one). Sure, you avoided the budget question three different ways. (“Ahhh… I think my mom is calling – hold please.” “Budget … what’s a budget?” “Yep, we have a budget for this ...” crickets.) But that isn’t going to be an issue because you have a ‘healthy’ budget for this project. 


Next, you have a follow-up call where your agency contact walks you through the proposal that details the exact plan that your brand needs to execute its route-to-market goals. You are thinking to yourself – ‘I knew it, they are the perfect fit.' Just as you are patting yourself on the back, the agency contact starts reviewing the budget page. Bam! The price tag is double your ‘healthy’ budget. Suddenly, you feel like you just wasted much-needed time to hit your deadlines. How could this have been prevented???


I am the CFO at Moxie Sozo, an independent, mid-sized branding and design agency. We occasionally run into this challenge, and it is easily avoided. Before I get into that, let me start with – I get it.


You didn’t disclose your budget because of your fear that the agency will overprice its services to match the stated budget, or it potentially puts you at a negotiating disadvantage if a partner knows your budget. I’m here to let you know that these are not our goals when asking for the budget. 


During our initial conversation, we will ask you the money question. We need this information at the start of the process. Why? We want to...


Save Everyone Time

If we cannot make your budget work based on your needs, it’s okay. We will be upfront about that at the start and save you (and us) valuable time.


Alignment of Expectations

Having a sense of your allocated budget allows us to tailor our recommendations to fit within your financial constraints. This ensures that the proposed solutions are realistic and doable. 


Creative Freedom within Constraints

Our team of creatives, developers and strategists are amazing, and can provide significant value to a client with a $75,000 budget or a $750,000 budget. Knowing the budget gives them a realistic goal of how expansive they should be thinking.

Transparency and Trust

Open communication about budget fosters trust between you and the agency. It shows the your willingness to collaborate and the agency's commitment to working within those parameters..

Maximize Your Budget

We try to maximize a partner’s budget in a positive way by providing as much value as we possibly canand most times, more than that (much to my chagrin). 
So, how can we avoid the surprise budget reveal moment? That’s easyprovide your budget during the initial call, let us provide a proposal that works within your budget (or let you know that we cannot make it work), high five each other when we realize the proposal is going to work for everyone, and then move onto the fun stuff!