low budget clients - hand holding a black calculator showing zero over a pink folder

The Real Cost of Low Budget Clients in 2022 – In this article I write about what it means to take on board a low budget client in digital marketing.

You will learn who low budget clients are and the pros and cons of working with them.

This article is part of a series of blog posts focusing on analysing stress in digital marketing:

Let’s start with trying to define who low budget clients are.

Who Are Low Budget Clients?

Low budget (or small budget clients), also known as cost-clients[1]Lisefski, B. Are You Working for Cost-Clients or Value Clients? Sep 3, 2018, Medium.com, are clients with a limited budget that they can afford or are willing to invest in a particular product or service.

The threshold of ‘low budget’ is a tricky one as it depends on a number of variables including industry, suppliers, product or service.

In this article, ‘low budget’ is defined as a budget that is disproportionally low in comparison to the desired outcome.

When Low Budget is Good

As mentioned earlier in this article, the ‘low budget’ threshold depends on a number of factors.

Sometimes low budget clients will trigger your inner creative genius and will push you to excel and find untapped opportunities.

However, most of the times low budget clients tend to be rather costly in terms of time and resources.

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So you want to be very careful before taking a project based on a low budget.

In my experience, cost-clients share one or more characteristics.

Most Common Traits of Low Budget Clients

These are some of the most common traits of low budget clients, based on my experience in digital marketing:

  • They base their decision on who to hire for their project or service base on pricing
  • They have high or unrealistic expectations
  • They expect ‘value for money’, which means they will want to check that you are actually ‘working’
  • They tend to be very difficult to please

As you can see, the list tends to highlight rather negative characteristics. If you or your agency are not comfortable with one or more of the above, you might want to consider avoiding small budget clients.

How to Avoid Low Budget Clients

The following is a list of things you can put in place to avoid working or being contacted by low budget clients:

  • Increase your prices and show them on your website – This is a no brainer because if pricing is the decisive factor for low budget clients, you are a lot less likely to engage with them if your pricing threshold is higher then theirs
  • Display a clear service description – This is not always helpful as a number of clients would actually disregard this list. Having said that, sticking to a clear service description on your website and in the proposal should avoid a number of pitfalls in terms of what your clients expect from you
  • Charge on projects rather than by the hour – In some cases, I charge by the hour (and I also use this as a tool to discourage clients from going overboard with their requests) but most of the times I charge based on the type and scope of a project
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Low budget clients are not always to avoid. In some circumstances, you might actually decide that they are worth your time and effort.

How to Choose Low Budget Clients

To choose whether to work on a low budget project, I normally ask myself the following questions:

  1. Is the project an interesting one? Would I be excited to work on this project regardless of the budget?
  2. Can I add unique value to this project? In other words, can somebody else just do it as well or better?
  3. Does the project match (or challenge) my skillset?

If the small budget project ticks the boxes above, then I might actually decide to take it on.

Regardless of all this, just remember: your time is sacred[2]Balmer, C Ho to Put Off Clients with Small Budgets (and Why You Should), Nov 2, 2021, Talentedladiesclub.com so spend it wisely!

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