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frequently asked questions

I don’t know the entire scope of our needs, can you still give me an estimate?

We can give you a ballpark, but know that we may be off-base if we haven’t identified everything properly. The best course of action would be to identify your goal and what you can invest in achieving that goal. Together we can determine a scope that suits both. We may suggest a Discovery session where we discuss where you’ve been, what the issues are, and where we can make improvements. At the end, you’ll have a roadmap of suggestions that we can either tackle together or you can take elsewhere.

I’d rather not disclose our budget. Can you still proceed with estimating?

The short answer is: no. If it’s possible to give a range, at least, then yes. If we have no idea what you have to work with, we may overshoot and suggest tackling more than you can feasibly do. This will likely put us out of the running against other firms you may be looking at.

Don’t think of a budget as the bucket you have to draw from, but would prefer not to drain if you can help it. Think of it as what you’re able to invest to achieve your goal. Of course, quantifying that goal first is key, but knowing your limitations helps us determine what we can deliver, what we’d need to table for a later phase.

I don’t know our budget, can you help me figure it out?

Many clients don’t fully understand what they can expect if they’ve never hired an agency before. That’s a-ok. The best way to determine what you should invest is to look at your total or projected revenue and determine what percentage of that amount can be invested into the business to launch or improve your brand.

Only you can decide what an improvement is worth to you, but if you’re looking for some general rules of thumb that don’t take industry into account, here are a few:

  • SCORE, the nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses, advises that companies with less than $5 million in revenue should allocate 7–8% of sales to annual marketing.
  • According to Entrepreneur.com, startups and companies 1-5 years old should aim for 12-20% of gross or projected revenue. This may seem counter-intuitive, but the idea is that if no one knows who you are or what you’re about yet, there’s a greater investment to make that happen. That annual amount can taper as time goes on and the audience has gained familiarity.

Can I get just a logo design?

Yes, but we feel obligated to share our philosophy about that. A beautiful logo with no plan for application and comprehensive brand experience holds very little value. We don’t really like to be in the habit of delivering pretty work with little value. That said, if you have a more extended plan for tackling your brand experience in phases and we have the opportunity to work with you on the application at a later date, we’d love to.

Would you consider doing work for equity?

Possibly and partially. While the entire project couldn’t be done for equity, if we felt a strong passion for your idea and the investment made sense for us, we would consider it.

Is your estimate negotiable?

Our estimates are scaleable. Which means if your budget has decreased, we can reduce the scope of work to reduce cost. But we can’t reduce cost without reducing scope. We can also potentially tackle a project in phases if resources aren’t currently available but are expected in the near future. We can make a recommendation for what aspects to tackle immediately, and what to table for a later date.

Do you offer website hosting and/or maintenance?

Yes to both. In fact, the whole reason we started offering hosting and maintenance is that we got frustrated delivering a great website for clients only to have it suffer from poor performance due to bad hosting. Or to have the client hire another agency to help with SEO efforts who butchered it and left the client with no budget to have it rebuilt. (Seriously!)

While the websites we develop are always built on a CMS (Content Management System) that allows you to—surprise, surprise—manage your content, a website really should be a constantly evolving tool in your marketing arsenal. Our goal is to help you make strategic decisions and changes to your site over time as you grow, not for you to need us for the day-to-day edits and content updates.

Do you collaborate with other agencies?

You mean work with people who understand and have the same passion we do for our industry? No. Just kidding. We love working with other agencies. Whether that’s an existing long-term relationship on your end or a recommendation from us to satisfy a need we don’t do in-house, we’re happy to partner up. We don’t try to be all things to all clients. We know what we do well and when it’s time to bring someone else in.

Will you participate in an RFP?

Possibly. If it’s an open call to agencies, probably not. If you’ve whittled down to a short-listed group of 3-5 firms, we’re getting warmer. If we can help you decide on a call if we should be on that short list, we’re happy to do so.

Another suggestion that makes the process more appealing to us: the opportunity to meet or at least speak with the project lead on your team (not procurement) prior to submitting the RFP response. Not only is it more informative about the project, but it gets one of the most important questions out of the way: do we click?

Assuming the stars align on the last question, what do you want to see in an RFP?

The best RFPs talk about real issues and needs. Not, “We need a website with the following pages,” but, “research tells us our visitors don’t fully understand our product’s capabilities.” Or, “We think we may have a trust problem that’s preventing us from increasing contact or conversions.” Why are these better? Because they help us understand your real problem and what we would deliver to help you with it. A new website might not be the right answer or it might be only part of the right answer. Either way, it helps us craft a proposal that helps you make a more informed decision. It may make for a less comparable set of RFP responses, but probably more insightful ones. You’ll get a better idea of who can make strategic recommendations to achieve your goals rather than who can build a website with X number of pages.

Other helpful information includes timing, review process, budget, key decision makers, and means of evaluating the success of the project.

Will you do spec work for agency reviews?

Probably not. Spec work is more common in the advertising world where the scope of work can last years and budgets are exponentially higher. Greater reward warrants greater risk. Branding budgets are typically on a smaller scale and require a deep dive into the heart and soul of the organization to come up with a recommended solution. That said, if the risk matched the reward and we had an innate feel for the right solution, never say never.

Are you a branding or digital agency?

Both. We believe that doing branding without addressing a tech brand’s primary point of communication is a recipe for disaster…or at least wasting a whole lot of money. Our strength is crafting a brand experience that transforms you from a product to a persona, and then knowing how to seamlessly integrate that experience online and off for one comprehensive, consistent impression.

You’re a relatively small shop. Can you handle all our needs?

It depends on what they are. If they extend from naming to brand positioning to identity to website design to SEO to environmental design, to traditional marketing…why yes, we can!

Most of the work we do starts with branding and web and segues into an ongoing relationship where we continue to evolve the site we built, tackle SEO, traditional marketing, and so forth. We don’t typically do ongoing work with sites we didn’t develop. Mostly because they’re usually not built the way we would recommend for successful marketing efforts.

I know we need help, but my CEO/Founder/[insert boss title] doesn’t see the value. Can you help me build a case for it?

Our suggestion is to do a Discovery session where we discuss the challenges you’re facing, what you’ve already done to try and overcome them, and what we might suggest to make more headway. It will be focused on concrete goals and how to achieve them not, “look how much cooler your website could be.” If your challenge starts with the brand, not just the website, we can conduct a brand audit to get the unbiased perception feedback you can use to build—or drop—your case depending on the outcome.