Client Talks: Limited Budgets
Aug 25, 2016
Client Talks is a series of conversations between an agency and client, focusing on Content Marketing. For our first installment, John Lane, chief strategy officer at Centerline, sits down with Jason Poblete, content marketing manager at IBM Analytics: World Wide Public Sector.
Budget is always a major concern – for both parties. How do you work with a client to customize a creative idea that doesn’t necessarily fit within the client’s budget constraints? How do you come to a consensus on the best way to spend a budget?
John Lane: As a product marketer, you’ve got unlimited understanding of the information your audience would crave, but finite budgets. You’re fighting for dollars within the larger organizations marketing budget, and you’ve got to make tough decisions about what content is going to have the greatest impact, and not getting to make all the pieces of content you want. What goes into those decisions? What goes into those decisions, in the terms of saying ‘we are going to make this and not that?’
Jason Poblete: There are two things that I, personally, consider.
The first thing is what do our buyers want to consume? What are they more likely to consume? When I look at, for example, a law enforcement example, our chief buyer is police chiefs. Pun intended! I find out what do police chiefs like to consider? Are they going to sit at their desk and read a seven page white paper about leadership? Or are they going to have more time for a 12 minute podcast that they can play in their car on the way to work? That is the primary way that I look at what to create on a quarter to quarter basis.
We usually have a forecast and we plan for the coming quarter. We’re in quarter three right now. So as we get close to the next quarter, we are already considering what we need to create for quarter four, based on what we’ve seen our audience consume most in the last quarter.
The second thing I consider is: What do we already have in market or what is already in the pipeline. This way, if I am creating a video or if I am creating a three video series explaining the primary solution benefits and features of a product and I am doing that via video, I’ll ask, ‘Do I really need to create a white paper that does the same thing?’ No, because you are replicating content and you are wasting money.
I think those are the two primary ways that I look at what we create: what do they want and what do we already have? So it’s a matter of filling in the gaps we can see, quarter to quarter
JL: So you probably keep an audit or map of the content you have. I would imagine you have some analytics to see how different content is being used, but for the most part – you know you have finite resources in terms of money. You’re saying ‘OK, out of the six gaps we have, if we can identify content for this particular gap, it would be great. This is the one that looks like it will be the most impactful, and provide the best benefit for the money.’
JP: Exactly, that is exactly correct. It also has a lot to do with timelines. So, as we have different events pop up for our public sector, whether it be a conference that we are hosting or attending, we also look at the type of content that goes into the event.
So, if I only have a $30K budget in a certain period of time for creating content, and we have an event coming up where we’re going to have a ton of eyeballs there, I’m not going to spend my budget on a whitepaper, because I don’t think anyone is going to see it in our trade booth.
Instead, I’ll create a video or some social tiles that we can have in our booth, and someone can come and quickly scan through and get a good overview. We’ll also have people to stand there and talk them through the deep information.
It’s very cyclical, depending on when we have events or activations like that as well.
JL: So that got me thinking about a twofold thing: first, how do we work with a client to customize a creative idea to fit the client’s budget, and then how does an agency know how much we can do for a particular budget? How much should we carve out for the production versus the activation portion?
You’re pretty good, and we’re pretty adept as content creators to say, if from a very tactical level, ‘we need to do this, we need to deliver this message, we need to deliver it in this format, and here’s the idea.’
But what is almost more interesting to me is the flip side – I think there is a lot to be gained by looking at the content and understanding what you’ve got int he market. I think that one of the spots where agency and client relationships might falter is when they don’t have that common viewpoint.
So they agency might be saying, ‘you have this budget – here’s the creative idea, and we should use every bit of this budget,’ without having the full understanding of the other things you have out in the market. They’re thinking they have this amazing, effective piece of content to promote, without seeing that you already have these other, similar things in the market.
This again sparks a new question for me – how do agencies and clients get on the same page, especially with this blind spot? As an agency, whose content specialists understand audience – your audience – might not see things that either you are creating on different channels or with other agencies, we might not see, even during exploration. I think that would change some of the conversation around budget – it would at least be interesting to explore a better way for agencies and clients to understand what budget is in play and why.
JP: Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s so important to have open dialogue with the agency. At the same time, we’re not trying to give away the whole show, right? We don’t always come out and say, ‘Hey, this is all the money we have in the world to spend with you guys, what can we do?’
Instead, we’ll say, ‘Okay, we’re working on the assumption that we need these two things. This is what we would like them to do. This is the level of interactivity, etc. that we’re looking for. What’s the quote?’
Then we compare that to our budget. If the two numbers don’t match, we’ll say, ‘OK, well, now we know two things – we know what to prioritize based on how much money we have, or we can go back and work with the agency around some details to make the project fit the budget.’
It’s essential to work with the agency to identify the key pieces of content overall that we need to create, as well as the key aspects of the content that need to be maintained, and how we can adapt and change the rest to fit the budget.
Check out the second installment in the series here.
Jason Poblete in his own words: A 2012 graduate from Penn State University’s Smeal College of Business, Jason is dedicated to interacting with audiences using valuable and innovative storytelling to build relationships. He currently resides in Morris County, New Jersey with his wife. Follow Jason on Twitter.
John Lane in his own words: When I would watch TV as a kid, I would run to the bathroom during the shows so I could make it back for the commercials… they were more interesting to me. That interest in the connection between brand and consumer is still the driving force of my involvement in marketing strategy and content creation. Follow John on Twitter.