You know, I think I’m a pretty reasonable guy. I don’t yell, I try to be reasonable, I’m seldomly paranoid, etc. But one thing I’ve noticed after five years of running an agency is that there seems to be a direct relationship between how much a client is willing to pay and how easy they are to work with.
But the problem is that it’s all backwards. If you split clients into two groups; those who are willing to pay a lot and those who aren’t, which group would you guess would be more picky? Shouldn’t it be those who are paying more? After all, they deserve to be picky–they’re paying for it. But no, it’s not the case at all. In almost all cases I’ve been involved in, it’s the client who pays that least that wants the most.
And it’s not just me. Whenever I’ve talked to anyone who has worked in any sort of agency setting they’ve expressed the same feelings. My main theory on the matter is that people who pay less are spending their own money. Typically, people who are spending money out of their own pockets are going to not have as much money to begin with, and they’re going to work harder to get a good deal. And once you’re working with them they’re going to be very sensitive to any change in cost, or you telling them that they need to purchase stock photography.
With a corporation, the person who’s hiring the agency isn’t spending their own money, it’s corporate dollars and they aren’t as sensitive about spending those. So they’re less picky, and they’re willing to pay more money to get it done right. It’s more about quality and speed than it is about price.
The issue I believe it’s important for the smaller guys with less dollars to understand is that you get what you pay for. If you get an agency to give you a discount and then you try to squeeze all the value you can out of them, you’re going to end up with arguments, contention, and nobody at the agency wanting to work on your project, let alone work with you on any future project. Ironically, the project will probably not be the quality it would be if you just left the agency alone.
So what’s the solution for the little guy? I believe it’s education and preparation. If I were a little guy I would spend some time researching agencies and talking to them to understand how they work, and why they charge what they do. Then I’d probably go hire a freelancer.