Every client, and every project, is unique — and one size most definitely does not fit all in the world of creative services. When a client asks for an estimate for a brochure or web site without providing more detail about their content, audiences, and goals, it’s impossible to recommend (let alone estimate) the most appropriate solution. For example, if you have a family of 6 and a dog that likes to travel with you, it would be inappropriate for a sales person to recommend a Mini Cooper as your main mode of transportation. Maybe you’d look at a nice minivan, sport wagon, or small SUV? Or is a large SUV that can also tow a boat the type of vehicle you really need? The point is, knowing what your core needs are will go a long way in getting the most out of your designer or agency partnership.

When you are ready to develop marketing materials, or any other creative project, here are some things to consider before your first meeting or telephone call. Having thought about these items ahead of time will give your designer or agency a better overall picture of your project, and will result in a more accurate estimate from the start:

  1. Content: What do you want to say, and how much text do you think you’ll need to say it well? Is the brochure content short enough to work in a tri-fold format, or do you need a larger brochure with a pocket integrated in the back for sell sheets? If it’s a web site you’re trying to launch, how many sections will it have and how much content will fit under each section? In addition, will you write the copy yourself, or will you need your creative partner to write the copy for you?
  2. Audience: Who is your target audience for each specific piece? What are their particular needs and desires when looking for the products or services you provide? Does a piece cater to a specific audience independently, or does it need to encompass all of your target markets?
  3. Design: Do you have an existing “look” (logo, color scheme, fonts, or other design elements) that you want carried throughout this new material, or does a new look need to be created from scratch?
  4. Photography: If the project will require photography, is stock photography appropriate, or do you need to hire a photographer to capture the shots needed? What portion of your budget are you willing to spend on images?
  5. Budget: If you know what you want and what you have to spend, don’t be afraid to let your designer or agency know your budget range up front — especially if you already have a relationship with them. When a client gives us information about their budget requirements, we are able to provide an estimate with different options at different price-points that all fall within their range. If their budget is larger than what a project would normally cost, then we recommend additional components or features that compliment or enhance the core deliverables. And, if their budget is lower than what a project would normally cost, we offer cost-saving modifications to their specifications and requirements that can allow us to meet those budget requirements.

The bottom line is that the more information you can provide up front to your designer or agency, the more accurate your estimate will be. Plus, you’ll ensure you get a final result that you love to show off, and that makes a significant positive impact for your business.