How to avoid frustrating your customers

By Renata Mathewson, Maple Marketing

I have discovered the most annoying question you can ask a prospect: “What’s your budget?” 

I was recently looking around for some branded promotional products for a client (pens, notepads, golf umbrellas, etc). This was the first thing several of the companies I contacted asked me – “what’s your budget?”

My initial response was “How the heck do I know? I have no idea what 250 branded mugs should cost.”

A more helpful response would have been something along the lines of, “I’m sure we can find something that works within your budget. Do you have a budget, or would you like me to give you an idea of what a few different price points might get you?”

I confess – I used to be guilty of asking people what their marketing budgets were. But then quickly learned that when it comes to marketing (or many other product or service offerings for that matter), most people fall into one of three categories:

i.    they don’t have a defined budget,

ii.   they don’t know what marketing should cost, or

iii.  they are more interested in value for money and return on investment than they are in specific detailed costs

So where does this leave you if you’re a provider of products or services? My advice is to treat everyone as though they fall into the third category.

When someone asks you how much your products or services cost, focus on the value and the return on investment. Focus on the outcomes. I’m not suggesting that you steer clear of a direct answer about price. But choose your words carefully.

Let’s look at an example to illustrate the point.

I recently had a business owner approach me looking for some marketing help for their SME. They didn’t have a marketing plan, but knew they needed to be doing more marketing this year. They just didn’t know where to start.

Rather than ask what their budget was, I took them through a consultative process where we looked at their current pain points, their pressing needs, and the areas they wanted to focus on first. We decided together that the place to start was in getting a marketing plan written for the business. They didn’t have a set budget, so I presented them some options:

  • they could write their own plan, using easy-to-follow guides provided
  • they could get a bit more guidance with video tutorials, making the process a bit easier and keeping them on track and on schedule
  • they could attend a workshop on marketing plans and get it done in a workshop setting with other like-minded business owners
  • they could do some one-on-one work to have a customised, detailed plan written for them

The process and the outcomes for each option presented were slightly different, and priced accordingly. Giving the prospective client options made the sale a bit easier as it wasn’t simply a yes/no scenario, but rather one of finding out which method and which price point worked for them.

So back to those promotional products … I could have made an easier decision if I was asked more about my needs, quantities, timings, etc and then given a few options to choose from.

Even if the few options presented don’t quite fit the needs initially, at least this approach begins the conversation and engages the prospect in a way where they feel their needs are being listened to.

Effective marketing (and in turn, a successful sales process) begins with getting the right message to the right audience.

If you need help creating compelling messaging for your business – or if you’re interested in finding out more about different marketing packages offered – please get in touch with us on .