B2B Cost Control.

In the battle between project cost control and creative value, it’s often cost control that wins.

“Hi Scot. We’ve been discussing your proposal for the Brand Positioning Project and we’re concerned about cost control – we’re not sure where you got those costs from.”


“Excuse me?”

“You’re concerned about cost control, ‘again’. You’re always concerned about cost control.”

“Yes we are.”

“We’ve done this before you know. You make it sound like we found those costs lying on the floor. ‘Oooh, look, costs. Sweep them up and stick them in that B2B branding proposal…’”

“Not exactly.”

“No? What then, exactly?”

“Well let’s take a look at the first item.”

“The first item? There’s more than one item?”

“We have a few questions.”

“A few?”

“Quite a lot.”

“A lot?”

“We have cost control questions on every item of your proposal.”

“Oh. Good.”

“The first item says you’re proposing to charge for a B2B marketing strategy to include ‘Creative Concept Development’.”


“We don’t need that.”

“You don’t need creative development?”


“From a creative brand consultancy?”

“No. We’ve already provided that in the brief so we don’t want to pay for it.”

“The brief?”


“You mean the Word document. 18 pages of random market sector breakdown, audience analysis, competitor review, product specification and brand guidelines – is that the brief you mean?”


“Right, well I seem to have missed the creative concept. Point me to the right page…”

“The entire brief covers the creative requirements.”

“Well that’s strange, because all I seem to have in front of me is 18 pages of almost meaningless shit.”

“There’s no need to be like that.”

“There clearly is. You seem to be under the misapprehension that your meandering and mostly pointless bullshit represents a brand positioning concept. It doesn’t. It’s like marketing automation – it represents wasted lives. Yours, without question, and if I let you get away with this, my life gets added to the body count too.”

“That’s outrageous!”

“Is it? What do you think the concept is that you’ve ‘already provided’, just so I can post-rationalise this conversation as a learning experience…?”

“We clearly state the required deliverables. We just need you to produce that.”

“That’s not a creative concept. It’s a to-do list.”

“Eh, we need you to make it look better of course, but all the thinking’s been done.”

“Great, so in a sentence, tell me what the concept is.”

“Well, our product…”

“No, that’s your product.”

“Well, our company…”

“No, that’s your company.”

“Eh, our customers need…”

“No, that’s your customers.”

“Well alright then, how would you start?”

“I’d start with a concept.”

“Like what?”

“When you pay me for one, I’ll tell you.”

“But we gave you the brief.”

“And I gave you our costs to turn your brief into food. We can’t eat the brief.”

“No, but most of the work’s been done in the brief.”

“Most of the work?”


“Ah, well in that case just slap a logo on your Word document and you’re good to go.”

“I think we might.”

“I think you should.”


[Longer Pause]


“Look, I just need you to look at cost control and re-submit your proposal.”

“Sure, how much would you like me to increase the costs by? Just this one additional hour, or do you need me to allow for more?”

“What?! I don’t think you understand. I have cost control targets. I want the cost to go down.

“And I want a never-ending glass of beer, but that’s not going to happen either.”


“Look, you’ve wasted my time asking for a brand marketing proposal you’re unable or unwilling to support, now you’re asking me to waste more time turning a good proposal into a cheap, shit one. Who’s going to pay for the hours of dicking around that you’re asking me for?”

“Eh, I expect you to cover that in your proposal.”

“And that’s why the price just went up.”

“Don’t you even want to negotiate?

“What, like all your other underfunded agencies? No, I don’t want to negotiate. You didn’t understand our proposal or costs the first time, I don’t think a second version is going to make you any smarter.”

“Well if you can’t support our cost control processes we won’t be able to use you again.”

“You know what I can control though…?”

“No, what?   [Pause]   No, what can you control?   [Pause]   Hello? Are you still there?   [Pause]   Hello? Hello…?”



Scot McKee