This is something we get asked ALL the time, often followed by "why don't you list service pricing on your website?" Let's pull back the curtain and get down to brass tax.
The answer is, there is NO one-size-fits-all answer. By having set prices listed on a company website, you run the risk of painting yourself into a corner. This is totally fine if you are a product based business, and there are really only two options available: retail or wholesale. When it comes to service based businesses, there's a need for more wiggle room.
Listing services on your website
At SPBX, we offer a range of social media, PR and brand development services. Additionally, we prefer to offer these services as customizable packages. This means that services are more or less offered a la carte. Similar to walking through a grocery store and throwing stuff in the basket, you might not have a need for everything you're being offered. This is something that is best determined by scheduling a complimentary client consultation. Have you ever seen something offered at a certain price, and then upon check out, realized that the actual price you'll be paying has somehow fluctuated? Yeah, no one likes that. The best way to fully understand exactly what it is your brand needs, is to sit down and talk it out. Your goals, visions, and objectives paired with your brand's current standing, will all play a major role in determining the service package best suited for you. From there, we need to find out if you need content created, or maybe you have massive archives of un-utilized content sitting in a vault somewhere? A startup who still needs to nail down their final logo and build a website will require much different services than an established brand simply looking to outsource their social media efforts.
That said, content creation is no joke. Whether it's copy for press releases and blogs, designing media kits, or even producing full blown photo shoots for your product - it's all very time consuming. More time invested directly correlates to more of a monetary investment.
How do you charge for services?
You will find that agencies are able to charge for services a number of different ways. Some like to charge by the hour, some have a flat rate, and some may only charge per placement. Let's discuss..
Hourly: Generally, at SPBX, we assess the package of services needed, then formulate an estimate for how many hours we can expect to work on your account as a team. This means, graphics, photo shoots, writing, social media scheduling, content calendars, media outreach..the list goes on. Now, we have to factor in the understanding that for different services, there may be different team members involved. This means calculating the hours a graphic designer will spend each month, as well as someone from the PR team or social media team. With these estimated hours worked, we are able to come up with what your monthly service fee will be. True, some months may be heavier, some months may be lighter, but it really evens out. Typically, there are plenty of "non-billable hours" worked each month, but that's just the name of the game. This seems to be the best way to meet client's needs and expectations with no surprises. Once you have a contractual, monthly agreement with a set fee, clients should never receive an additional bill for hours worked outside of your initial agreement. There are of course exceptions to this which include project based fees and other add-ons that may come up later down the line, but this will always be discussed with a client and clearly defined before moving forward.
Flat rate: Again..no two accounts are exactly the same. This is a pretty unrealistic format, given that there may be grand opening events, photo shoots etc,. Every client will have very different, but specific needs. By listing flat rates on your website, it sends the message that you've assumed each client will require the same services. This simply is not the case.
Pay per placement: This can be tricky! From a client's perspective, this seems like an ideal agreement. However, this type of service is a dying breed in recent years due to the fact that there have actually been a few instances in the news, where PR pros were paying off, or offering kick-backs to journalists who collaborated for client features. It can also be difficult to understand exactly how much each publication is worth, and then expressing this to a client when it's time to send over an invoice. In addition, if a team is only being paid per placement, that doesn't guarantee any amount of time will be dedicated to your account. Imagine if you have clients with recurring needs each month, maybe you're on-boarding new clients, planning for an upcoming client event..there's always the possibility that during a heavy month, a "pay per placement" client will become less of a priority. Unfortunately, that's the harsh reality of the situation - if anyone tells you differently, you should stop listening completely. Alternatively, another month you may have 3-5 placements, and of course, in this case the client could receive a hefty bill when it's all said and done. What happens in this case if the client had a slow month? As exciting as a new press feature may be, they may not be as excited about the new cost they now have to factor into their monthly expenses.
Overall, it seems the best way for most agencies to charge for services is by sticking to a monthly retainer, formulated to fit each client's individual needs. We believe that by doing so, all parties involved are able to feel fully supported. By taking a more personal approach and fully understanding each client's unique goals and vision for growth, we're able to tailor services to fit their needs.
If you have any questions regarding services, or would like to schedule a complimentary consultation, please visit our contact page, and we'll be in touch!