Last week I gave you some quick guidance about what to look for in a brand coach.  Now I want to give you 10 quick tips for how you can save money in your search and make the most of every dollar you spend on branding:

  1. Shop around for estimates - Consulting is competitive, make sure you know how your prospective coach is positioned against his competition - both in terms of skill and cost.
  2. Offer to do strategy in-house - I am never happier than when a client wants to work hands-on with a project.  The time it saves me is always reflected in the lower bill.
  3. Prepare a creative brief - Particularly when working with visual and other creative elements, building the framework for what a coach will help on saves time, effort, and a lot of cash.
  4. Request terms - Most small businesses are cash-strapped to begin with.  Instead of worrying about a large bill up-front, ask to spread payments out over a longer period of time.  If you hired a good coach, the added revenues you receive as a result will offset the expense in the long run.
  5. Use your own resources - Most consultants will add a 10-15% fee on top of out-sourced creative work.  Use your own teams and connections and you'll save on this added fee.
  6. Evaluate tactics constantly - No marketing or branding plan is clairvoyant.  As time goes on, you'll realize that certain tactics are more useful than others.  Cut costly, ineffective tactics out of your plan ASAP!
  7. Stick to a budget - No matter what, set a budget before you do anything.  It's a lot easier to know you've gone over budget if you had a cost ceiling to begin with.
  8. Hire interns - After the costly strategy work is done, a lot of the detail work is fairly rudimentary.  Don't pay $200/hour for your coach to file paperwork, write emails, and print flyers - bring on a few interns to do the work.  You'll save money, and they'll gain valuable experience in the industry.
  9. Insource the brand coach - For some reason, people are a lot more effective when they can work out of the same office the work benefits.  Give your brand coach her own desk in your office and have her work as part of your team - she'll be a more efficient contributor, saving you time as the project flies by.
  10. Know when to walk away - Sometimes you make mistakes.  If you find out a month into a project that you hired the wrong guy, admit the mistake and walk away.  Don't waste money working a dead project just to save face.