Mexican Standoff* - When clients won't reveal their budget
The Mexican Standoff – When clients won’t reveal their budget
At Morph we sometimes find we’re dealing with a client who’s being coy about their budget. They just don’t want to tell us how much they are ready to spend.
Over time, we’ve come to understand that clients can sometimes think this is a good thing – that it allows us to work creatively on a proposal, untrammelled by budget considerations. Sadly, that’s just not true for two reasons:
- It can confuse what should be a simple process – finding the best media solution for each client. What should be straightforward becomes a bit of a Mexican standoff*, with information held back that would allow us to move forward. It’s a bad idea and also a bit of a time-waster for everybody involved.
- We can sometimes second guess our clients by offering solutions based on our best estimation of what might fit their budget. But this is the opposite of creative thinking, because it means we’re constraining ourselves to a figure that hasn’t even been discussed – let alone confirmed!
Revealing a budget
Knowing how much a client wants to spend isn’t just a question of knowing how much we’ll be able to charge – it’s not that simple.
We’re in the business of providing solutions for our clients and part of finding the best solution is understanding what makes sense for a client to spend as part of their communication or marketing strategy. This then allows us to be more creative! We are able to focus on creatively meeting the client’s needs with the available budget.
The alternative is much less attractive and defensive system of listing prices for a range of standard options. Few businesses are standard, and few solutions will be standard.
When new clients want to get quotes from a range of agencies we appreciate that often they won’t want to reveal their budget in advance. Provided that their requirements are clear we will often be happy to be involved – but we’ll maintain our belief that working collaboratively is more productive and generates the best value for our clients.
At Morph, we’re trying to do something special. From the very beginning of a relationship with a new client, we are trying to be transparent and offer a working partnership.
We want clients to feel confident that we’re working with them to achieve their goals. For that to happen, we need trust and while budget is one aspect of the relationship, it’s a pretty important one. It can either be a stumbling block on the road to a creative solution or a means to free us up to do great work, and we know which one we prefer!
*We sent our agent Guy Cookson to Mexico to research whether ‘Mexican Standoff’ is in fact an offensive term to Mexicans. He reports,
Nayeli had never heard of the phrase – which makes sense, as Mexicans would never describe something as a Mexican standoff presumably because all Mexican standoffs in Mexico are just standoffs, like all Irish pubs in Ireland are just pubs. Anyway, no, I don’t believe it is an offensive term, and, knowing Mexicans as I do, I don’t think anyone in Mexico would ever consider it to be so.