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Squeeze your design budget

1. Stop paying a premium for rush!

In the 21 years I’ve managed Synergy Design, we’ve never once charged a client a rush fee, I just don’t believe in it. A solid agency should have the bandwidth to handle urgent projects and have some buffer built into their studio.

On the other hand, if you tell your designer it’s urgent every time, they’ll quickly learn that it’s not. If you want to be a great client, be honest about your deadlines. Build trust with your agency by giving them time when you have it and you’ll be in great shape to call in a favour when you’re in deep sh@*# because the content was due last week.

2. Multiple layouts = Mucho dinero

Designers generally pour their heart and soul into the first layout, so requesting additional designs (of diminishing quality) may not get you far.

And since you’re likely paying for each one, maybe you should ask to see the first layout first – you may not need a second or even a third. However, if you work with an agency with several designers, then requesting multiple layouts typically means you’ll get multiple designers. Well worth the investment.

3. Whoa, hang on, you’re not ready for design

A huge part of the design process is managing incoming assets. If you drip feed your agency with copy today, logos tomorrow, and the photos next week, it can add significant project management time.

Oh, and try to provide copy that’s been edited. Why? Well, designers are happy to make minor edits on the fly, but often they’re making major edits typically because they’re working with draft copy. So, save your dinero by editing and proof-reading the copy before sending it for design.

4. Uh oh, did you go past 3 revisions?

The industry standard of capping edits to just 3 rounds is older than my grandpa’s Cadillac. I can’t recall when a project was wrapped up in 5 rounds, let alone 3. Designers know this and will often use “extra revisions” as a chance to pad the bill.

However, a good agency will have plenty of work on hand and won’t be desperate to squeeze every dollar out of you. They recognize that every client is different, so handcuffing them to a pre-determined amount of changes impedes the relationship. Try negotiating at least 5 rounds of revisions with your designer, you’re going to need them. Uh, better make it 6, and read more about edits and changes here.

5. Scope creep

On the other hand, unforeseen major changes in a project or scope beyond what was quoted, will happen.

This often occurs gradually, and most designers will let it go, but when it gets out of hand both parties should be honest and work out a compromise on additional fees. There’s that trust thing again. I’m starting to see a pattern here.

6. Flat fee

And finally, ask your designer or creative agency about flat fee, per project pricing instead of hourly or retainer. It can often be difficult for inexperienced designers to know how long a project will take, and their invoice could be a big surprise. Like the state of Texas big. Of course, a seasoned agency will have designed a project like yours before, so they’ll have the confidence to quote you a flat fee, no surprises, and no hidden fees. Read more about that here because hey, I could use the backlink.

Ok, is that enough to get you started?

I have other thoughts on how to squeeze more from that creative budget of yours. Something about using templates, repurposing content, and even becoming exclusive with a creative partner you can trust. Honestly, that last part is the best way to squeeze your budget. But we’ll address that another time, I’ve got to go and squeeze my wife now… Her budget I mean, her budget.

Greg Carmichael
Latest posts by Greg Carmichael (see all)
Greg Carmichael

Author Greg Carmichael

I’m Greg (the guy that wrote this), and the Creative Director at Synergy Design. We’re a graphic design creative collective in Streetsville, Mississauga, which is just outside of Toronto, Canada. Simply put, our team of 7 graphic designers provide enterprise-level graphic design for marketers, laser-focused on creating digital marketing content and print collateral too. If you learned something here today, or if I made you LOL, consider reaching out to start a conversation on how my Team can elevate your marketing content. [email protected] • 416-737-9432 •  

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