25 Sep 2019

Going Deeper: Sharing your budget with bidding production partners

This post is part of an ongoing series called Going Deeper where we look at branded content production through the lens of the world’s most important question: why.

If you have a specific budget you’re looking to stay within, don’t be shy – tell your prospective production partners. We get it, you don’t want them to inflate their prices to meet your ceiling, but often companies will be willing to discount down to meet you if you have a set limit and your project is interesting. 

So there’s every chance that you will stay within your budget, but actually get work that is worth more than that.

Also consider giving a budget range. Most production companies will likely skew their bid toward the lower end of the range so they don’t look like the most expensive option, which will be great for you!

And if there’s a massive misalignment between what you have to spend and what a company feels they can deliver at that price, it’s better to know early so no-one gets attached to a team they can’t afford or spends time on a bid they can’t possibly win.

One thing to consider is a scoping round, which you might want to do with several companies at once, in this early stage. The problem this solves for, is that it can be hard for production partners to 100% accurately bid for your project until the creative is set, which can’t be done until the project is actually underway, which can’t be done until you’ve selected a bid, which can’t be done until bids have been submitted. And round and round we go.

With a scoping round, you pay the production partner to do some of the pre-production work around the creative ideation to help figure out the most accurate budget estimate. That way, they’re not doing creative work for free, on a speculative basis, but you’re not committing to an entire project without knowing the full cost implications.

It also means that if you pay someone for this work, but decide not to go forward with them into production, you’re at liberty to use the creative they developed, since you paid them for their time.

We know that some companies ask for extensive creative work during the bid process… i.e. for free, but we think this is a bad and outmoded practice that gets projects off on a bad foot. If you’re asking multiple production companies to invest serious time in developing creative for you, compensate them for their efforts.

Next week we’re going to start to look at the process of producing branded content itself, beginning with pre-production, which as far as we’re concerned, is where the magic happens.