I think budgets warrant their own blog post.

“We want to project wealth, we are the upper echelon in our field, our marketing has to look like a million bucks — one problem, we don’t have a budget.”

Don’t tell me you haven’t heard that before.

“So let me get this straight you want to eat at Nobu but want to pay Burger King prices.” — Um yeah…no, that’s not gonna work.

We’ve been in business close to a decade now and have really grown smarter as a company. We’ve learned how important client communication is and why solid contracts can be a life saver. The one aspect that gets me time and time again is the pipe dream project on a shoestring budget. I just don’t get it. How can a company want to make hundreds of thousands or millions with a $500 website or $150 logo? If your business looks like a dollar store you’re perceived that way as a company — bottom line.

Let me clarify… and this happens quite a bit believe it or not. We’re often approached by a new client that has a new exciting product ready to hit the ground running with a marketing campaign, new website, rebranding the whole nine. We also have potential clients that sell high-end products like exotic cars, jewelry, designer wedding dresses or their company is looking to feel comfortable bidding on multi-millon dollar projects for their business and want to look more polished when they present their proposal.

The problem…

8 times out of 10 they have no budget or think good design shouldn’t have to cost their right arm. Well no it doesn’t have to cost a limb, but if a design firm is good, meaning they have the education, experience, body of work and deliver spot-on design every time — they will not be cheap. Cousin Larry will always cut you a deal, but having the option to pay him in beer is usually the first sign your marketing is in the wrong hands.

The reason clients approach a design firm in the first place is one of two reasons, either they were referred to you by a past or current client OR they’ve seen your portfolio and want to work with you because they see that your skill set is tight.

The problem…

While they love your work and trust the person that referred them, they ultimately don’t truly value what you bring to the table creatively and want that same quality and creative flair but at say half the price. Try telling that to Vera Wang or Ferrari. “Love your stuff Vera… what do you say we knock 10K off that dress — I’m only wearing it once.”

I think designers and the work they do is often undervalued.

As a business owner — you are what you present to the public.

If you show up to an important client meeting in shorts, no shirt and flip flops — unless you’re representing Hurly or Billabong, chances are you won’t be taken seriously and likely will not get that project.

Clients will go to networking events, trade shows or have an online business and they look like they put zero effort into their brand and their website is often treated as an afterthought or as if it had little or no intrinsic value. They’re shocked that people don’t flock to them because their product is actually quite good but their marketing was done on the cheap and well, it shows. It’s actually unfortunate. When a company is dressed right, groomed to the hilt, it projects a stronger more organized and polished business.

If you’re looking to get to the next level, attract bigger fish or just look like you have your act together in general as a business, being realistic with your marketing budget is key. Investing in your business image online and offline is a lot cheaper than trying to repair the damage done by poorly thought out design on shoestring budgets.