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Updated: Aug 22, 2022

In my last post, The Marketer’s Dilemma Pt.1: Paying For Strategy vs. Paying For Stuff, I shared with you a conversation I had with a hot prospect who had an aversion to paying for strategy when they could use that money to buy more content, regardless of whether or not it reached and resonated with their target audience.  Well, dear reader, there was more to that conversation, which I have recreated here in The Marketer’s Dilemma Pt 2: Paying For Time vs. Paying For Value.

Recap from Pt. 1: By his own admission this prospect loves what I do, has always wanted to work with me and was really excited to receive my proposal, which he found very compelling but… (there’s ALWAYS a but!).

“Okay Neal.”  He begins, earnestly, “Let’s assume I go ahead and pay for the strategy, what am I paying for, exactly?” 

"All the deliverables listed on the last slide of my proposal.” I reply, before listing them off verbally, “A documented content strategy based on research with creative concepts, content calendar, recommended creators, budgets, benchmarks and reporting."

“No, I mean, how much of your time am I getting?”  He clarifies.

“As much as it takes to deliver those assets.”  I clarify.

“But how many days is that?  Will you be working from my office or sending in time sheets?” 

“Neither.” I say, taken aback, "I’ll be delivering all the agreed assets on or before the agreed deadline.  That’s what you want isn’t it?"

“Of course.”  He agrees, “But I need to know how long it’s taking you?”


“I just need to be sure we’re getting our money’s worth.”  He assures me.

“Okay.” I say, "But if I deliver everything I’ve promised, on time, in budget and to your satisfaction won't you have got your money's worth?"

“I guess, but if it takes you less time it should be cheaper, right?”


“Because it’s less work."

“But it’s no less value.  In fact, if I do it quicker you can start executing sooner and driving return faster, so it's potentially worth more.”

“You’re kidding right?”  He lols.

“Sort of.” (I’m not)

“Seriously though,”  he says, looking serious (probably, he’s still on the phone so…) “If it takes less you’ll charge less, right?”

“Fine, but if it takes more then I’ll have to charge more.”  I counter.

“But my budget’s fixed.”

“Great, so is my quote, no matter how long I spend on your strategy I promise it won’t increase, sound good?”


“So, we're agreed on the price?"

“Sure, if you can split it out into a daily rate.”




And that, dear reader, is why most strategy and consulting work takes too long and costs too much, because time-based billing does not incentivise value or haste.  True story.  The end.

If you’d like to know more about my content strategy and storytelling solutions, and how I charge for them, take at look at or drop me a line through LinkedIn.

Picture Credit: Bernard Polet,

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