A List Apart published an interesting article about an unorthodox method of securing clients: under-bid them. The example given is that when clients approach you with a $100,000 budget to build a new site, send back an RFP for a $20,000 project. This doesn’t mean that you ask for less than you’re worth, rather you approach it as step 1 in a multi-step project.
This approach has a number of values:
- It reduces the risk for clients–instead of being on the hook for a huge commitment of time and money, there’s opportunity for them to evaluate as they go and increase funds and time as they become more comfortable.
- It makes your proposal more accurate. Any cost estimates you make at this point will be just that: estimates. It’s better to guess with smaller chunks because when things don’t go as planned, it’s easier to recover. When work takes 15% longer than you estimated, it’s easier to stomach pushing a release by a week instead of 8 months.
- It forces everyone to focus on what’s really important. Focus is what makes projects and products great.
- You get something faster.
- Instead of a long, frustrating process, you get an on-going, scalable relationship. As phases are rolled out, clients can decide whether or not they want to do another round features.
Our process isn’t exactly like an agency, but I think there are some tips that we could definitely use. I particularly like the idea of making clients pick “what’s really important” and focusing on turning out smaller, better products.