Understanding Thought-Leadership Pricing, Part 3: How Marketing Managers Can Control Costs

Oct 1, 2019 | Accounting, Audit, and Consulting, Institutional Asset Management, Investment Banking, Private Wealth Management, White Papers

In part one of our three-part series on thought-leadership pricing, we provided financial marketers with an overview of the most common pricing models (fixed fee, hourly, by the word, and retainer) that writers and agencies use.

In part two, we explained the different variables that influence pricing across each model.

Now, in part three, we will discuss how financial marketers can control their costs when working with a financial writer or agency to keep projects within their desired budgets.

Adjusting the Scope

It is common for a writer to submit a pricing estimate that is above your desired budget. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to abandon working with that provider and look elsewhere—although that is an option.

Most writers are willing to be flexible and adjust their proposals to fit your budget. But that doesn’t mean the writer is going to offer you a discount just because you ask for one.

It is rare—and unwise—for a writer to offer the same level of services and a lower price just to win the business. If the writer does this, it could be red flag for you as the marketer. The best writers have relatively full schedules, so they don’t need to discount their prices. (The exception to this—as we wrote in our previous blog post—would be if the discount is offered as part of a retainer agreement that guarantees a certain amount of future work.)

Rather than offering a simple discount for the services, the writer should work with you to identify aspects of the scope that could be adjusted to bring the price within your budget.

Think of each variable—extent of independent research, number of subject matter expert (SME) interviews, length and type of content piece—as a lever. Pulling each lever up or down will increase and decrease the price accordingly.

Pulling the Levers

To see how this can work, consider the following example. Here is an initial scope and price for a project based on a conversation between a writer and financial marketer about a white paper project. (Disclaimer: The scopes and prices shown here are purely hypothetical and don’t necessarily represent what WFC or another writer or agency would charge for a project of this ilk.)

Initial scope:
  • 3 SME interviews
  • 2 rounds of edits
  • 6-page white paper
  • Cost: $6,000

The marketing manager tells the writer that, although the proposal looks good, the manager only has a $4,000 budget for this project. So, the writer goes back and adjusts the scope as follows:

Revised scope:
  • 2 SME interviews
  • 1 round of edits
  • 4-page white paper
  • Cost: $4,000

By taking away one SME interview and one round of edits, and shortening the deliverable by a few pages, the writer is able to offer the financial marketer a solution that is within the desired budget.

The key to doing this effectively is to perform a cost-benefit analysis that looks at the marginal value of each aspect of the scope. For example, the marketer may have originally requested three SME interviews, knowing that the first two are essential but the third would add considerably less value. In this case, eliminating that third interview can be a great way to enhance the overall value of the project.

Now, if the financial marketer knows that he or she has four similar white papers to produce this year and would prefer to still have each white paper be six pages and include 3 SME interviews—but doesn’t have the budget to pay $6,000 per white paper—committing to all four papers at once and offering to prepay for a portion of the cost may be a way to work within the budget.

Focus on Value, Not Price

If financial marketers would still prefer to find a less-costly option after talking through ways to adjust the scope or account for a retainer discount, that is absolutely fine. Not every writer or agency is going to be a perfect fit for the marketer’s budget. 

Financial writers and agencies put a lot of thought and effort into determining their pricing offerings, which are reflective of the level of service and quality that they believe they provide. The important thing is to find a partner who delivers outstanding value and fits your budget—and to remember the old adage, “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”

That’s a wrap on our three-part blog series on thought-leadership pricing. For a comprehensive look at all of the information we provided in this blog series, download our e-book below.

Understanding The Black Box of Thought Leadership Pricing E-Book

About the Author Scott -About AuthorScott Wentworth is the founder and head writer of Wentworth Financial Communications. He has served as a ghostwriter for portfolio managers, investment bankers, attorneys, and other thought leaders across the financial services industry.