Why we’re ditching hour rates at Hunting With Pixels
I love spending my time and energy on creating connection, whether it’s by producing content, building strategies or connecting our clients to each other.
There’s one thing that never quite worked for me though; proposal writing.
I always struggled to see the link between that work and what we actually do.
It’s not that I have an issue helping our clients understand what a realistic scope for a project is, but I don’t think proposals based on billable hours are very helpful in communicating what the best value is to them.
How do you put a price on creating connection?
If I look at what we do on a day to day basis, almost none of it can we expressed by an hour rate.
How do you capture intent, focus, and seeing creative possibilities in a spreadsheet?
How do you put a dollar value on empathy, caring for the details or creating a positive environment for the interviewee?
Do we become more empathetic or creative if we get more dollars?
The idea of money as a motivator or a tool to improve performance has been thoroughly debunked by Daniel Pink’s book Drive, The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.
In the research that Daniel Pink did, one of the findings was that money has a negative impact on work that requires creativity and cognitive ability.
How impact is created
It is the behaviours like focus and empathy that make the difference between producing a bit of content and having impact.
Hunting With Pixels is not the sum of camera+operator+editor=video.
We’re first and foremost a company that focusses on people and on how their behaviour can positively impact their ability to connect.
I don’t think that can be captured in an hour rate.
Partnership and collaboration=impact
We do our best work with clients who approach the work as a partnership to create the outcomes that help their organisations grow.
I believe adding billable hours to that equation undermines that partnership and puts restraints on collaboration.
The billable hours approach potentially creates an adversarial relationship where one party benefits from spending hours while the other tries to control cost. This is why some people don’t like lawyers.
When we’re paying people by the hour, we’re asking them to go through the motions, not to create great work.
Let’s compare the two options;
Billable hours – Just doing, not thinking
The approach of billable hours:
- Puts the focus on activities instead of outcomes. On deliverables instead of benefits.
- Discounts our expertise and misaligns the incentives of both parties. It turns Hunting With Pixels into a labour force; it pays us to use our hands instead of our heads and hearts.
- Incentivises micro management and a drive for ‘efficiency’ which kills the creativity and innovation you need. Micro management is also hugely time consuming for leaders.
- Disincentivises both parties from thinking about the benefits to the other; is what I’m doing today having a meaningful impact?
Partnerships – Thinking and doing
In 2017 we’ve run a few pilots for our new subscription model and have seen a remarkable shift in behaviour and attitude.
- It makes ‘failure’ ok. Without billable hours we see our clients get more creative and innovative because there’s no penalty for trying something new.
- We lose the fixed mindset. If we fixate on deliverables of content, we fixate the content itself. If we open things up, our brands don’t rely on one or two unchanging ‘hero pieces’ but instead we create conversations through ongoing content creation. We move from a Big Speech to a conversation with our audience.
- ‘Busy work’ becomes a deliberate effort to create value.
- Financially projects end up less front heavy. By spreading the cost, there’s significantly less risk for our clients, which buys everyone time and breathing space to course correct where necessary.
Going from the Big Speech to a conversation
A subscription doesn’t mean that there are no deliverables.
Typically, we set a number of key deliverables in the first three months. From there, we work on turning the speech into a conversation by creating spin off content like Vlogs, ‘how’ to’ videos or other Facebook video updates.
As we do this, we further refine the key pieces based on the data we get from analytics.
We exchange a fee for measurable impact.
To be able to do this, we need to work with you on understanding exactly what success looks like. Impact can be clicks on your video, traffic to your landing page, better retention of your policies or happier customers.
So how do we price?
We price on our experience on how value has been created in the past.
This approach gives our clients a benchmark for both the quality of the work and outcomes that can be expected.
We don’t measure the value of our relationship with an hour rate – we look at how we can have a positive impact and what the value of that impact is in terms of ROI.
No big proposals and contracts – how will that work?
Just as well as proposals have worked in the past; someone spends a week putting it together, no one reads the proposal or terms and conditions, and then we work things out during the project. Sound familiar?
A subscription doesn’t mean you’re flying blind; instead of a big proposal, we create a detailed content plan so that everyone knows what we’re working towards.
.. and here’s the small print
- Minimum engagement is 3 months; you can’t get anything substantial done in less time.
- Cancel or change the subscription any time.
- We need you to be present and engaged with the project; we don’t work for you, we work with you.
How much does it cost?
Subscriptions are tailored to what your needs are.
On the higher end you can spend $5-6k/month for a ‘all you can eat buffet of video’ for a larger business, on the lower end we have subscriptions starting at a few hundred bucks for video blogs.
So what are your Big Plans for 2018?
So if you’ve got big plans for 2018 and like the idea of a partnership that offers you low risk, create outcomes and a meaningful impact get in touch.
If you sign up for a subscription before the 1st of February you can donate a homepage video that we create to a NPF or startup of your choice.
Drop me a line if you’d like to know more. We’d love to connect.
PS: there are exceptions. Sometimes you just need doing work, not thinking work. If you have a one off shoot or a simple edit of a few hours we offer fixed project rates.