Nobody likes surprises, especially when it comes to finances and the finished product. After working with clients in dozens of different industries for almost two decades, we’ve learned a thing or two about managing our client’s expectations, and our own processes. Consider this a “preview” of what to expect when you work with us:
Nothing can sabotage your results faster than poor communication. That’s why we put policies in place to assure efficient two-way communication. That means it’s a two-way street, and we can achieve greater success by adhering to a set of guidelines.
As our client, we encourage you to ask questions, offer feedback and provide constructive criticism when warranted. We don’t restrict phone calls or emails, if our team is available when you call, we will speak with you. If you anticipate a call to last more than 10-minutes or so, we encourage you to email us first so that we can reserve enough time to get the most out of our conversation.
It’s important to note that we don’t typically charge by the hour, but we allocate our resources by the hour, so we strongly suggest that you forward us your questions or topics via email before calling so that we are prepared and don’t unnecessarily eat into the time we budgeted for your project.
We use a project management system called BasecampHQ. Basecamp's project management tool can be used to send messages and share and collaborate on files, documents, and tasks. We use it to keep track of all project conversations. Basecamp uses a simple, visual interface to help individuals and teams manage their shared and personal projects and tasks. Don’t worry, it’s easier than it sounds. In fact, you will get all notifications via email, and you can just simply reply to us.
Many of our meetings are virtual, meaning we use a screen sharing software so that you can see our computer screen from yours as we talk over the phone. That means that we each have to “dial in” at the agreed upon time. If one of us is late, or a no-show, that means the other party has to wait on the meeting hoping the other party didn’t forget. For that reason, we encourage you to put our scheduled meetings on your calendar with a reminder. If you are going to be late or need to reschedule, that is not a problem, just notify us as soon as you know, and we will do the same for you.
Do you have an event scheduled? Let us know with as much lead time as you can. We can help get the word out, but not if we are informed at the last minute. Remember, everything has a lead time.
Change in direction? Keep us in the loop at the earliest stages. We might have useful business suggestions, and a change in your direction inevitably means a change in our direction. That means that we may have to change our strategies, along with the content we produce. We don’t want to squander your time working on yesterday’s initiatives.
We understand that you might be too busy to respond to us right away. We don’t expect you to sit by the phone or to prioritize our emails over the dozen other things that need your attention at that moment. But emails do go into spam folders for unexplained reasons, and voicemails can get buried. The problem is, if we assume that you received our message when you didn’t, we might be holding up your project waiting for a response that will never come. For that reason, we request that you immediately acknowledge that you received our message even if you can’t do anything about it right away. Simply say something like “Got it! I’ll get back to you when I have the time”. That will allow us to make adjustments to the work we have planned for you while we’re waiting for you to get back to us.
From time-to-time we get vague requests from our clients. For example, we may get a Word doc or a link to something with no information, instructions or background. If we are not sure what you have in mind, we will have to contact you to make sure we don’t misinterpret your intentions. This may divert our resources away from something we are already doing for you. We simply ask that whenever you communicate with us, assume that we have no point of reference and give us a short overview of what you are sending us and why. Of course, we’ll do the same for you.
The short answer is probably you. Our philosophy is that providing you have met your financial obligations to us, you own it, or at least have licensing rights to it. Here are a few examples:
There are exceptions where neither of us technically “own” anything, such as social media accounts. For example, if we help you create a Facebook account, technically neither of us owns it (Facebook does), but as far as we are concerned, you have the administrative rights to it.
If we design a website for you, you have permanent rights to the content, so you can move it to another hosting environment at your discretion. Note that in some cases we use a “hosted solution” which means you can’t necessarily move to another hosting environment, but you can have exclusive rights to the account.
One of the advantages of working with us is that we are constantly creating and updating our Library of Marketing funnels. These are tested and proven Lead Magnets, Facebook ads, Landing pages, Workflow Email sequences and Framework Websites for schools and other businesses. This allows us to quickly customize and deploy proven strategies that have worked for other school marketing programs around the country.
Re-deploying and customizing these for you will minimize the amount of resources (time) we need to invest in your project, thus leaving more productivity time for the many other things we need to do to increase your enrollments. Although we own the intellectual property, you will have a permanent license to use any of the marketing funnel materials that we have created on your behalf. In other words, once we use our creative with you, you will be able to continue to use it with, or without us.
When necessary we may use licensed stock photography for websites, advertising, premium content, etc. All the images that we use are paid for and properly licensed. Our license allows us to extend the use of those images to our clients as long as we did the original work. That does not mean that you can necessarily use those images for other purposes.
Real images beat stock photos in most cases, providing they are of high quality and proper resolution. If you provide us with an image, obviously it is your image and we won’t use it for another purpose without your permission.
We’ve been creating websites for years and have developed simple systems to keep the project organized and moving forward as efficiently as possible. No one has time or money to waste, so adhering to a few simple rules will shorten the development time and ensure that you are delighted with the results.
Nothing gets a website project off to a great start like agreeing on the creative direction upfront. This will typically require a bit of simple homework for you. The simplest way to go about this is for you to make a short list of websites that you like and let us know what it is you like about them (and anything that you don’t). Your website examples don’t even need to be in the same industry. We won’t copy the designs that you show us, we will assemble what we call a “creative brief” for our design team to use as guidance for your original design.
If your school or business has a logo, we will need the best, most high-resolution version that you have available. If you have different versions (for example, one to go over light backgrounds and a second one to go on top of dark backgrounds) send them both to us. Ideally, these would be in PSD (Photoshop) AI (Adobe Illustrator) or TIFF file formats.
We strive to have the basic design solidified within 3 rounds of revisions. A “Round” can entail multiple changes; however, we prefer that you batch your feedback and your requested changes rather than trickling them in a few at a time. Because of the preparation work associated with even a single change, we can often do many changes for you with only a slight increase in the time it takes to do one or two.
We are pretty good at picking and formatting stock photos to create a professional look for your website, but nothing beats a high-quality, high-resolution “real” photo that accurately represents your school or business.
For example, children wearing school colors with the school logo have a better “feel” than stock photos could ever convey. Images of your employees wearing your company uniforms are better than generic people in the same type of photo. We know that it is not always possible to provide professional quality photography, but keep in mind that we can’t make a poor-quality image better than the original source file.
Initially we may use stock photos as a placeholder, or in many cases as an appropriate permanent photo to use. You will be free to browse our entire library of stock photos and suggest specific images if you like. We use Shutterstock.com as our stock photo service.
Organizing images and any text that you supply to us will help speed up the production process. We find the following process to be the most effective:
1. We will create a folder for the website content on our BasecampHQ projects system under your company or school name.
2. Within that folder, we will create a sub-folder for each individual page of the website.
3. In each individual page folder, you can easily upload the text or Word Document along with any images you have selected for that specific page.
This makes it easy for us to identify what text and which images go on what pages. Very simple and efficient. This is the same process we use internally if we are writing your text and selecting your images.
Nothing will move your web development project along faster than timely feedback. If you take 3 or 4 days to get back to us each time we are waiting on feedback, that can accumulatively represent several weeks of delays. Conversely, quick feedback will get your project right back in our schedule rotation. When our design team is “in the groove” the results can be spectacular. Help them stay in the groove.
Nobody likes surprises, especially where finances are involved. We want you to know what to expect in terms of your investment with us, and our performance for you. Just a few final things...
Setting the right budget for your search and social advertising programs is critical. If done right and properly managed, these platforms can offer the best ROI. A common mistake is underbudgeting to “test” first. Testing with the wrong budget will yield false results and discourage you from doing things right. These platforms are designed to function optimally with a proper budget.
We will conduct a budget analysis and make recommendations. You are free to accept or reject our recommendations, but understand that if you reject our suggestions, the results will most likely be sub-optimal.
Our goal is for your project to be worthy of a Case Study. We request that you share with us the business results that you are getting from our relationship so that we know what is working for you and what isn’t. This is at your discretion of course.
Keep in mind that some of the strategies we employ may have a residual positive effect on overall performance. For example, running Facebook ads, or display advertising are designed to result in direct sales or enrollments, but they are also designed to increase brand awareness. Often the positive impact from the branding and exposure manifests itself indirectly. When we stop one strategy, it may indirectly affect another strategy.
We do things a little different than everyone else. We are retainer based, not hourly based. That means that we DO NOT charge by the hour; however, we budget our resources by the hour. If you have a healthy budget, we can do many things simultaneously for faster results. If you have a minimal budget, we will help you prioritize what should be done in which order. If we go over our budgeted time occasionally, we don’t worry about it. If we go over consistently, we’ll talk about it.
We do not limit or charge additional for any services we are capable and competent in performing; however, you will have to supply the budget for any third-party advertising or any third-party services that we manage for you.
This isn’t a contract, it’s a sort of…owner’s manual for working with us. Just some of the things that years of experience have taught us about the most efficient ways to interact with our clients so you get the most out our services. It’s not all encompassing, so if we missed anything, let us know.
Well that shows some degree of commitment… If you are serious enough about your project to read through this entire manifesto, we’d love to hear from you!
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