If you ever worked with print shops, you know that the first thing they want to know is “how many will you buy”? Your designs can be as intricate or important as you like, it makes little difference for their offer, but quantity as a factor reigns supreme. And if you try with the “well, quantity depends on the price” you will be gently but firmly told that it doesn’t work that way.

In our lines of work, “budget” is the operative word for this kind of tug-of-war between the available money and the needed scope. 

  • Will they divulge the budget before you say your price? 
  • Will they tell you the truth or hedge? 
  • What if they tell you they don’t know the budget yet, or that they have no budget for this, or they have it but it’s way smaller than the price you proposed?

So many difficult questions, but let’s start with a few simple rules:

  1. It’s not your client’s role to know what needs to be done. The scope is yours to propose, and theirs to say if that works for them. You “cut the cake”, and they “pick the piece they like”
  2. Focus on the outcomes they want first, then how it gets measured, and finally the value of the project. It’s essential that they are the ones that conclude the value, not you.

If the client is willing and able to finance the outcome they want, the budget will be found. If not, they were never even really a potential client in the first place.


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