A Quick Case for Budget Transparency

Early in my career, I was on the buy side, sourcing agency and freelancer PR and creative services for my employer. We had a budget, but unless it was a very large project, like creating a new logo for the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, I was told to never share our dollar figure with the outsiders. They had to go first. The fear was (and still is), that if they knew how much we had to spend, they'd find a way to spend it all and we'd get screwed.


There are a bunch of problems with this mentality, chief among them that most agencies and suppliers aren't out to bilk clients out of their money. The good ones know the best way to stay in business is to quote fair prices for great work. That's how we keep your business and get those valuable referrals.

Why You Should Be Transparent About Budget

There are two other reasons client reticence about going first is detrimental:

  1. It creates an at least somewhat adversarial relationship from the get-go. And that makes everyone a little cranky and suspicious.
  2. It produces unnecessary cycles of going back and forth negotiations that aren't transparent. The time you spend quantifying your project budget and requirements before reaching out to clients streamlines the process and gets the work done faster

If you're on the buy side, I encourage you to give serious thought to being transparent about the budget you have available and what you expect for that amount. You're actually less likely to "get screwed" when you do. And agencies and freelancers are better able to give you great service and product because they know the criteria.

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