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Topic: Strategy

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It Always Takes Longer - It Always Costs More Why?

Posted by MonMark Group on 25 Points
Greetings Champions of Marketing and Brilliant Colleagues:
For EVER -we have been helping our clients through startup, emergence and other strategic or tactical turns, twists and roadblocks. And, we have each said: "It always takes longer and always costs more." Although this has been proven time and again...and, we make every attempt to move through and around, to discover outlets, the internal question always comes to me...WHY? Why does it always take longer and takes more money? What are we doing wrong as we assess markets and provide guidance. Is there something we are doing wrong? Or, is it the nature of the beast?

I know that "mostly" we get them to market. And, "mostly" we correctly assess the market place - but, what more can we do, in an attempt to beat the market in its own little game of putting linebackers in front of us?

That's my thought. Must it always cost more and must it always take longer, than the timelines and road markers that we set?

Thanks friends...Looking ahead to amazing thoughts and suggestions.


  • Posted by mgoodman on Moderator
    The "Takes Longer / Costs More" phenomenon seems to be more prevalent among entrepreneurs and newbie consultants than it is among larger, established companies and seasoned, professional managers and consultants. I suspect that's because the former are more impatient and eager to see something happen NOW, and more accepting of risk.

    Of course, new marketing tools (like Adwords, for example) make it possible to run A/B tests in a matter of days, while more traditional approaches can take weeks or months. And it seems like newbies are inclined to think that setting strategy can be done by just about anyone in a matter of a few hours.

    The net effect is an expectation that things CAN be done quickly and cheaply. When that expectation doesn't materialize, then a project will be seen as taking too long and costing too much.

    Of course the most expensive marketing is bad marketing, because it can lead to very costly campaigns or business strategies that don't return the expected sales/profit. "Fast and cheap" doesn't usually mean reliable and well-reasoned.

    In a consulting relationship it is incumbent on the consultant to ensure that the client understands the cost/timing trade-offs/risks and to ensure that the work plan is really likely to generate results that are in the client's best interests.

  • Posted by Gary Bloomer on Member
    Why? Because: that's why. Because clients want things done quickly, cheaply, and done well, but sorry: no can do. Pick any two.

    Scope creep is part of the deal mainly through lack of planning, or though too much need. To paraphrase Roy Williams: time and money are inversely proportional, you can save lots of one by spending lots of the other, but not the other way around, meaning, you cannot save time WITHOUT spending money and you will SELDOM create the desired result WITHOUT it costing you time.
  • Posted by Jay Hamilton-Roth on Member
    Are you saying it costs more/takes longer than 1) the client wants or 2) you've estimated?
  • Posted by MonMark Group on Author
    Jay, I'm trying to get input from my colleagues as to the reasons for this phenomenon, from both perspectives. I've been part of takes longer/costs more, in the past, for various reasons, including: Not releasing any product until it's perfect (too much design-redesign) to client changing mind to market changes.

    Has it happened? How did you get around that...or was there a walk-away? How do you completely avoid this from happening,..or can you.

  • Posted by Jay Hamilton-Roth on Accepted
    In my opinion, the issue is that it's hard for the average client to see what the final result looks like until all the pieces are in-place. This is a phenomenon that's common in artistic fields - where there's no easy way to validate the pieces to prove your approach to the design brief is correct (or good enough). Contrasted with engineering milestones, which validate the approach as it's being constructed. The common phrase, "I'll know it when I see it" works in direct opposition to the design brief, since resources spent on one approach may be tossed when they see the final result (or a strong mock-up).
  • Posted by mgoodman on Accepted
    Another good reason why billing by the day/hour is not in the client's best interest. If a project takes longer than anticipated, the consultant shouldn't be able to bill more ... unless it's because of project creep (on the client's part).

    Fixed-fee pricing is clearly in everyone's best interests -- consultant and client.

    The consultant should carefully define the deliverables and promised timing before the project begins, and then live with the agreed fee for those deliverables. (If the fee is a range, then there needs to be a clear understanding up-front what would justify billing at the higher end of the range.)
  • Posted by telemoxie on Accepted
    change orders
    Lowball bidding
    miscommunications and misunderstandings
    loss of focus
    failure to, "manage expectations"
    a job done properly includes the establishment of systems
    focus on results rather than focusing on methods
    competing and conflicting visions
    insufficient or nonexistent planning
    scope creep
    unforeseen difficulties
    meddling by fools

    P.s. on a semi-related topic, I have recently discovered and had been having a blast with the Pomodoro technique. I hope to post a question about it soon.
  • Posted by Gary Bloomer on Accepted
    A lot of the longer/costlier issue is because clients can't or won't make confident choices and decisions.

    Oh, let's not make a decision just yet, first, let's have ten meetings, let's write an executive report, let's mull things over for a week, and then, let's bring in 6 other other people, all of whom have an opinion, none of whom have a clue. Randall, THAT'S when the price and time meters click silently into the red zone.

    TICK, TOCK! TICK, TOCK! Make a frigging DECISION already! But no. First, let's have another meeting or three. WTF? Every year, projects that could be growth hacked and significantly improved in terms of end user glee get screwed up because someone, somewhere won't make a bold decision to chivvy things toward completion.

    Opinions by halfwits in these mixes are the worst culprits in terms of bogging things down. Yes Sparky? You have an opinion? That's great, but before we hear it, pray tell: is it an INFORMED opinion? What's that? No, but you have a friend of a friend's uncle's cousin's sister-in-law who knows a guy who used to do this part time? Bully for him, but sadly, this is NOT his project, so unless y'all can move the ball down the field, sit down and button it. K?

    The key? Firm project management. Easier said than done I know, but that's the key: having someone who's an absolute BULLDOG on details, on responsibilities, and on outcomes. Someone who can think through "If this, then that" scenarios in their sleep. Someone who can get stuff done, AND someone who can live with the consequences and outcomes by taking responsibility.

  • Posted by MonMark Group on Author
    Gentlemen, I am so, so sorry. I haven't posted in a while and only awarded 25 points. %#@$ me. This is an important question and deserves more. I promise that the next ? will have more opportunity. HA! Here's what I know...those who responded have been my colleagues for over a decade, I believe - and points matter much less than substance.

    I care for each of you, in your own way and, am most grateful for your input. Thanks a million...I mean thanks 25, for assisting with my meandering brain cells.

    All's well here, except for the normal gravitational influence that comes with getting on in years (decades). You have each done well and am proud to be a colleague.

    BE WELL!

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