3 Common Billing Mistakes With Marketing Projects

Marketing Project Billing Mistakes

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In our line of work, executing marketing strategies, the very nature of it requires that we work with or bring in partners, suppliers or independent professionals to help complete the project.

Typically, our go-to people and companies are ones we’ve worked with previously. However, if they are busy or the work requires a new skill-set, we’ve got to look elsewhere.

This is a normal occurrence for us and is one I enjoy. Meeting and working with new people.

Trial marketing project

We generally try out one small project with a new person/supplier so we get an idea of what it is like to work together. There is the inevitable learning curve when working with someone new. Most people we work with are in the same boat and understand that fact.

What most people don’t get, and typically don’t talk about upfront is how the financial part of the trial or ‘first’ project will work.

Not talking upfront about finances, even on a so-called ‘trial’ project, can result in frustration and confusion on one or both sides.

Here are some common scenarios I’ve been stuck with when I’ve failed to discuss the financials before starting a trial project.

Billing mistakes on marketing projects

  1. Sending an invoice before the project is finished
    If you bill per week or per month, let your client know prior to starting the project. They may be thinking the invoice should come when the work is done, whereas you’re on a different billing schedule. Both are fine ways to run your business – and need to be discussed up front.
  2. Sending a bill for more than was agreed
    For example: If you estimate work at $1500, then perform the work, and realize it will be closer to $1645. You then decide to finish the work and send the bill for $1645, there can be a lot that goes wrong with this scenario. I’ve seen it happen a couple of ways that I feel are wrong, and one way that I feel is the right way. The two wrong ways are to either send the bill without any explanation or to send the bill with an explanation. The first feels sneaky, the second feels a little too late with the information.The right way involves the person who estimated the work at $1500 contacting the client to say something along the lines of “I quoted $1500, we’re just coming up to $1500 now, the final work will be $1645, can I get your approval to keep going?”
  3. Not billing
    I’ve been on the receiving end of this scenario and it feels weird. I ask for the invoice, then am told any variation of “Oh this was just a trial project, you can pay me by sending work my way or being a good referral.” This one is also awkward “You can pay me what you want, what you think the work is valued at.” So, do I pay what I think is fair? Do I not pay and then we have this weird situation between us? There hasn’t been a good end to this situation.

I hope these three scenarios are not ones you have to deal with during your trial projects. Do yourself and your business relationships the favour of talking money up front before the project starts.

Image: Moyan Brenn www.flickr.com/people/aigle_dore/

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