“How do you advise your clients when it comes to budgeting creative services for a project?”
Assuming the term “creative services” refers to “content,” I wouldn’t suggest budgeting on a project-to-project basis at all when it comes to digital signage – at least to start. Unless the project in question is a pure “art” sign with a fixed content playlist meant to stay the same for the life of the displays (think LAX airport install), the content will need to be refreshed and updated. As such, referring to a digital signage assignment as a project is misleading because, by definition, a project can be completed, whereas a digital signage installation, which requires that content be refreshed constantly with the appropriate funding to support it, is never completed.
Therefore, I advise my customers to consider a holistic budget strategy, which means considering their long-term content strategy and how that will help them achieve their ROI/ROO for the network. From that perspective, a budget can be broken down into different projects. For example, there could be a “launch playlist budget” and an “ongoing playlist budget” as well as a “special project budget.” Putting all your money in the launch playlist project without considering the ongoing and special project costs is unrealistic.
Once the dollar allocation for fixed costs has been established and the ongoing variable costs identified, it is then possible to look to maximize the value per creative dollar. Clients may desire to splurge on the launch budget because they’ve hired a creative agency to help build dynamic content that can be “refreshed” without additional ongoing designing or coding (e.g., menu board or library of templates etc.). Mix in a feed or two from Screenfeed or Bluefox etc. and 50+ percent of your ongoing budget can be covered in your CapX budget.
For third-party content (e.g., outsourced templates, feeds, special projects etc.), here are some tips when looking to get the most value for your budget:
- Referrals – ask your current network who they have worked with in the past and who they recommend.
- Price shop – get quotes from three different service providers.
- Price isn’t everything – what is the value they will deliver for that price?
- Reviews – ask around about the companies from whom you’re getting quotes. Do they have a good reputation for providing great service and doing great work?
- Can they scale – just because they can do what you want today, do they have the resources and experience to be there for you as your ideas evolve?