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Playing the numbers game

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Jake Anderson
Playing the numbers game
on May 15, 2013 at 6:42:52 am

I've been reading through the cow the first person to give out the number loses so to speak, that it's best to find out their budget. That tossing them a rate will scare away the client. I've been getting a lot of people who are just asking how much? Are these clients even worth dealing with if they're so concerned with price? Do you try meeting up with them before tossing down a quote to get all the information? Flash a rate card? Try to continue get more information out of them over email? What kind of the best way of going about this? What specific questions do you ask before you do make a quote?

Ex:
"30mins how much?"
"1hour how much?"


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Joseph W. Bourke
Re: Playing the numbers game
on May 15, 2013 at 1:28:58 pm

This is a tricky one, Jake. It's like asking what a house costs, and I've actually told clients who push for a hard price before they've told me any details just that. There are 80,000 dollar houses, and there a 2.5 million dollar houses. What house do you want?

If you're costing it out using the "price per minutes finished" method, you have to know how long the piece is, so you either have to get a script from the client (if they're writing it, which can often be done in-house), or at the very least, an outline, so you can figure out the approximate runtime.

If you're figuring out the hours you have to put in, and your costs, then it becomes much more complicated. There's a lot more detail you have to know, such as locations, days of shooting, professional talent, camera rentals, crew, etc..

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media
http://www.bourkemedia.com


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Craig Seeman
Re: Playing the numbers game
on May 15, 2013 at 5:31:52 pm

[Joseph W. Bourke] "There are 80,000 dollar houses, and there a 2.5 million dollar houses. What house do you want?"

Generally I'd do what I think is a bit more positive spin on clients who ask "how much""
I'd follow up asking them what their budget is and we'll see how we can taylor the project to fit your goals within your budget.

The goal is to get them talking so they reveal both their financial and creative needs. Then you can respond with solutions and they feel they have some power over the decision being made.

The two key psychological elements in this play, you're helping (by offering solutions) and they're empowered by making the decision.



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Jake Anderson
Re: Playing the numbers game
on May 15, 2013 at 5:51:34 pm

So do you continue it over email, or try discussing it over the phone, I tend to find email conversations come to an end after a couple replies back and forth.

What if there completely clueless as to what there budget is? And are persistant in knowing how much?


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Craig Seeman
Re: Playing the numbers game
on May 15, 2013 at 6:41:31 pm

[Jake Anderson] "So do you continue it over email, or try discussing it over the phone, I tend to find email conversations come to an end after a couple replies back and forth."

If by email and the first question is price, I respond by asking them what about my demo or description attracted them. When you find out what they liked you're better able to steer them when it comes to budget because they have a picture in their minds and you know the cost of the production that attracted them.

The follow up might result in giving them my number to call. At this point I'm wary of tire kickers so I do want them to be a bit proactive.

[Jake Anderson] "What if there completely clueless as to what there budget is? And are persistant in knowing how much?"

Assuming there's something that they like about your work, you can then have a guided conversation about what they saw. Then with price attached to something of value you can guide them up or down depending on the dialogue.



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Joseph W. Bourke
Re: Playing the numbers game
on May 15, 2013 at 6:53:33 pm

In the case of the client who is reasonable, this makes sense. I only pull out the house analogy, when it has become painfully clear that they want the 2.5 million dollar house for 80 thousand. Our job, as Craig has suggested, is to help the client arrive at a point which is compatible with their vision (God help us - so many times there is none, and the client is not visually oriented) and their budget.

I will also, if the client is a complete neophyte, and at the very first step of the project, give them parameters of budgets, sometimes citing specific projects which are on my website. "We could do this for between 2500 and 5500, and it would include this, this, this, and this. But also bear in mind that the first figure you throw out to the client is almost always the one that throw back at you when the project scope escalates: "You said you could do it for 2500 dollars - we want the editors cut of Apocalypse Now for 2500 dollars!".

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media
http://www.bourkemedia.com


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Nick Griffin
Re: Playing the numbers game
on May 15, 2013 at 9:23:03 pm

[Craig Seeman] "
The goal is to get them talking so they reveal both their financial and creative needs."


I fully agree. This is the start of the relationship you want to build and, like most of the process, the part where low pressure salesmanship comes into play.

If a client seems trustworthy and not simply shopping I go for a sitdown meeting where I can show examples and discuss what each finished production costs and why.

Then if they're REALLY trustworthy I get out my laptop with a production estimate spreadsheet and let them see what it costs if a shoot goes into more days, if we have a voiceover versus an on-camera talent, what the cost difference is between name-brand production music versus the $35 cuts off the internet, and so on. I DO NOT leave the spreadsheet with them. (Nobody's THAT trustworthy.)

When it comes time for them to get the result of the spreadsheet, it's presented in "black box" format under the categories of Pre-production, Production (shooting), Post Production, and Distribution/Duplication. This helps with them feeling in control but discourages price shopping on line items.

It's really about building rapport and mutual respect and getting away from the nitty-gritty of price shopping. To use Joe's house example, the process is about having them pick the granite versus the NeverMar countertops. They're informed, involved and I'm there to advise.

Then there's the people who we don't trust or even don't like and for them the idea is to waste as little time as possible. I've been known to quote a high, 'take it or leave it' figure or, in some cases, simply say no thanks.


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Roy Schneider
Re: Playing the numbers game
on May 16, 2013 at 12:26:18 pm

Great answer Craig!

Roy Schneider
Long Live Da Cow!


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Malcolm Matusky
Re: Playing the numbers game
on May 16, 2013 at 7:47:20 pm

I often respond to "how much to make a film..." with; "how much are you willing to spend to make your company look good?" If it's an unrealistic number, it usually is, at least I know not to waste much time "working" with them for free trying to convince them that they should spend 10x more than they want to. If their number is close to mine, at least it's worth continuing the conversation. I do refer unrealistic people to call the local community college to hire students, at least the students are subsidized and will be happy with anything they get. If the "client" get's a good job, great for them, generally though, they don't.

I try to "pre-qualify" prospects as quickly as possible, most people are too cheap to spend money on a decent productions, though I do notice they generally drive nicer cars than I do and live in more expensive neighborhoods. It's all a matter of "perceived value" if "anyone" can make a video and put it up on You-tube, why should they pay me $xx,xxx to do it? They should not...unless they want something good. I don't "compete" with DIY, or employees children who have a DSLR and an I-pad. That's not a viable business for me, and the sooner I find out this is all they are willing to pay for, I can drop them like a rock and find a real client.

Malcolm
http://www.malcolmproductions.com


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Joseph W. Bourke
Re: Playing the numbers game
on May 17, 2013 at 3:23:21 pm

I boils right down to the old adage, good, fast, or cheap, pick any two. Funny...I had always tossed that one out as just a good way to think about costing out projects, with no idea that there was a science built around it - it's called The Iron Triangle:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_management_triangle

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media
http://www.bourkemedia.com


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Richard Herd
Re: Playing the numbers game
on May 20, 2013 at 4:48:34 pm

Another weird problem that keeps happening to me is the MBAs who feel they need to beat the contract. Why do they do that?


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Malcolm Matusky
Re: Playing the numbers game
on May 20, 2013 at 11:13:09 pm

Greed.

Malcolm
http://www.malcolmproductions.com


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