I recently had an inquiry come in on a consulting project for 3 separate projects. He was representing a group of consultants that created 3 different websites, products, and businesses. After some back and forth, he decided I wasn't a good fit. And after the back and forth, I agreed.
The thing is, he led with (and then couldn't get past) my quoted hourly rates.
Before you go on about how ridiculously expensive I am, let me explain why leading with cost is not the best option for any marketing project - especially when I don't have all the information I need to make an educated quote. The way I think about freelance work breaks down into 3 components:
1) Focus on the Goals. The prospect just sent me three distinct websites without much context. He wanted to know what I would charge to "essentially to raise awareness around our products and services through inbounding, direct mail and SEO. Maybe the best place to start is your hourly rate." This tells me a few things: a) he doesn't really have a marketing plan, and b) he just wants a few "marketing-like" things done but doesn't actually understand each tactic and how it will impact the growth of the business.
A GOOD freelance marketer will stop you right there (as I did - shameless plug) I asked him to take a step back. What exactly did he hope this marketing person would accomplish? Did he want to drive traffic, leads, or brand awareness? By which of these metrics did he define "success"? All these questions force you to think about marketing as a function as it rolls up to your greater business plan, as well as help shape expectations for the freelancer-client relationship.
Needless to say, he just wanted to "raise brand awareness. What is your hourly rate?"
2) Understand the Scope. After you have a good understanding of what you want to accomplish and draft a marketing strategy (which I can help with, btw), that's where the tactics - like SEO and Direct Mail - come in. Mapping these tactics to success metrics (I.e., I want my website to generate 3,000 visits in 3 months) will give you tangible marketing goals to start with, work towards, and report against as the project continues.
After tactics are defined, that's where the matter of hourly rates can come in. Think you have the SEO bug and want to optimize your site? Go for it - then maybe I can take some email marketing off your plate. Listing out tactics, hours to completion, and a deadline by which you want these tasks completed by is how any successful marketing project is manage. I wish I could tell you online marketing it's a magic switch that you flip and forget about after you pay a freelancer x amount per hour. Nope.
3) Determine a Fair Price. Knowing how much you are willing to invest in marketing comes into play here. Decide what you are and are not willing to pay for, against what you expect to get in return. There's many projects that are definitely a set and forget it - like designing a website - but often involve later maintenance and updating. Then you have recurring marketing activities, like managing social media or writing weekly blogs - all stuff I can do if you don't want to - for a smaller retainer fee. Also included in retainers are monthly reports that will depict how successful all the marketing work was against what you had initially outlined as goals. So just think about what you want and what budget you want to allocate to make that happen.
After all of this and you still just want some college student to Tweet on your behalf, you've been warned that you get what you pay for.
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