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Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to the most common questions we are asked about our services, team, prices, working processes etc. If you can't find the information you are looking, contact our team. We intend to frequently update this page, so check back soon for new info. 

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What is the difference between a strategy and execution project

Our services can be broadly split into two categories: strategic and tactical/executional. In short, the main difference is that a strategic project is when the client wants us to provide input and recommendations on how to achieve their goal or deliver a project. An executional project is when we create a specific set of deliverables based on a detailed client brief (i.e., working to the client's existing plan). More detail is given below.

A strategic project is appropriate when a client wants us to help shape key brand elements, such as their messaging, visual identity, value proposition, audience targeting strategy, and more. We also consider the project to be strategic if we are asked to provide input on how to achieve a certain goal (e.g., brand awareness, lead generation), or if the client is looking for us to help them build a tactical marketing plan to achieve that goal. Examples of strategic activities include customer research, competitor research, buyer persona development, key message/value proposition creation, content strategy development, undertaking a rebrand, building a new website etc. It would also include the creation of digital, PR, paid media, and other types of marketing plan.

In contrast, a tactical/executional project is when the client hires us to produce a set of deliverables based on their existing marketing plan and a clearly defined brief. This usually taps into executional expertise within our team (e.g., writing, design, digital marketing, etc.) and can include projects such as creating a series of blog posts, producing a whitepaper, creating an email newsletter, developing an animation/video, writing copy for a webpage, etc.

What type/size of client do you work with?

We have experience working with everything from brand new start ups to global multinational companies generating billions of dollars in revenue... and everything in between.

We've also worked across a wide range of life science verticals, including agrichem, biotech/pharma, contract research services, contract manufacturing services, clinical diagnostic developers, medical device companies, lab equipment manufacturers, food processing companies, fine chemical & API providers, software/informatics companies and more. 

In general, a key factor influencing the impact we can have on any company's growth, marketing success and revenue targets is the size of the annual marketing budget available. Over time, we've found that we can have the biggest impact on client success when working with an annual marketing budget of £100k or greater, as we are often brought in to plan and/or execute multichannel programs that require this type of budget.

Why do you ask for budget info as part of your initial surveys?

In order to deliver a project as a supplier, we need to work to the budgets set by our clients. We request this budget info early on in our discussions as:

 - It helps us to get a feel for the scope of the project you have in mind (which also allows us to factor in what resource will be required on our side, as well as whether we have the resources available). This helps us provide you with a quick answer as to whether we can help support your project.

- In our experience, clients that have already set a budget are usually further along in the planning process and have reached the point where we can have a rapid and informed discussion about what they want to achieve, how we might help, and the budget required to deliver the desired results. As such, we use your budget information as a proxy measure for where you are in your planning process.

- With the budget in mind, we can agree goals and expectations early on about the type of activity and value we can deliver for the budget that has been assigned, ensuring we are all aligned from the outset and also providing you with extra info and clarity on the best route forward to achieve your goals.

You can trust us with your budget details. Our team are trained to view your marketing budget as if it was our own, and we're often tasked with squeezing every last ounce of value of every budget that we are assigned. We've got very good at this, and it's a key reason why many of our clients have worked with us for many years (and several of our clients have worked with us since we were founded in 2014!).

In fact, in some cases, we identify that a client's budget is best utilised by tapping into services that we don't offer or by diverting the budget into something like paid ad spend. We make these decisions based on your needs, not ours. For us, that's the essence of world-class customer service. We're not in this "just for the money", we're here to deliver against your goals. What's more, somewhat ironically (or aptly, depending on your viewpoint), it's exactly this ethos that builds trust with our clients, allows us to deliver the best results, and actually fuels our ongoing net growth! 

What if I do not know my budget (or it has not been set yet)?

No problem, we understand that this is often the case. If you are able to make a guesstimate, that would be great (especially as this budget does not need to be the final figure we work to, it's just to kickstart the conversation). If you need help formulating your budget, we created this free resource page with a series of budget calculators. It can help you set your marketing budget based on your context, goals and desired return on investment.

If you are truly unsure of the budget, you can just add the number zero. Please note, if you add zero on our survey, we'll likely follow up with you highlighting some of the info contained on this FAQ page. We may also highlight that most of the client projects that we work on are multichannel, integrated programs tapping into expertise across the agency, as this is where we add the most unique value. These projects tend to require a budget figure of over £50k per year and ideally over £100k, as this best mimics the projects where we've delivered the best results in the past. Of course, there are times when this model is not a good fit, so we review each project scope with this mind, treating each project as unique.

When it comes to pricing, do you work on a project or retainer basis?

The short answer is both, depending on which option is the best fit for the work we are undertaking and the client's unique requirements. In general, most strategic projects are fixed scope, fixed fee. When it comes to tactical execution, we are often working on multichannel, integrated marketing programs over a time span of 6 or 12 months, in which case, a retainer model is usually a better fit.

When is a project-costing model a good fit?

Depending on the needs of each engagement, we will recommend an appropriate investment model to meet your specific requirements. In general, we cost engagements in two ways: either a one-off project, or an ongoing retainer. Each model is designed to best fit the circumstances.

A project model is a good fit when the scope and deliverables of a project are well-defined and unlikely to change. As such, a project model also tends to work best for short-term projects and those with only a few deliverables. The advantage of this model is that we can precisely define a fixed cost for a given project, which will make it easier for you to budget (and you can be confident that the cost will not exceed that stated in the project estimate). 

However, due to the reduced flexibility with this model, any scope changes during the duration of the project (both planned and unexpected) will require us to re-evaluate where we are against budget and may require us to update our estimate based on any changes. This can include obvious and/or major changes (e.g. increasing the scope of the project from 1 whitepaper to 2 whitepapers). It also includes more subtle scope changes, such as when additional, unexpected rounds of client-driven amends are required. Projects are usually invoiced as 50% of the fee upfront, 50% upon completion (although other variants also exist).

When is a retainer-costing model a good fit?

A retainer model tends to be a good fit when working on longer-term engagements (e.g. over 6 or 12 months), as well as those that are more complex and include a larger number of deliverables. The main reason is that the retainer model offers unrivalled flexibility to adapt to your needs over time or as the campaign changes (as your retainer budget can be used across all services in the agency, for any type of work, excluding 3rd party costs such as email list rentals). This includes rising to meet new requirements (e.g. your exhibition booth graphics unexpectedly need updating on a fast turnaround time, or a team member leaves and you require access to additional outsourced resource to cover the gap over the short- to medium-term). The retainer process also allows us to pivot based on the results of the campaign, reallocating budget from under-performing activities to high-performing tactics over time, as required.

Retainer models also save time from an administration perspective and make budgeting easier, as there is just one, consistent, predictable invoice to pay and keep track of each month. We are able to pass these efficiencies on to you, allowing us to focus more of our time on deliverables (and less on administration). We also find that our agency-client relationship gets more efficient over time, allowing us to deliver more work with less effort (and time). Again, the retainer model ensures these efficiencies and savings are passed on to you.

In general, when working on BioStrata's retainer model, your hours/budget do not expire. If the number of hours falls below the allocated amount, these are simply carried over into the next month. In the same way, if you go over the allocated hours, overage hours are simply deducted from the following month’s allowance. If after numerous months the hours used are significantly higher or lower than the planned budget, we will set up a call to discuss how to adjust your retainer to reflect how it is being used.

Importantly, all retainers with BioStrata operate under a 30-day cancellation period, meaning no lengthy contract tie-ins. If you wish to cancel, suspend, increase or decrease the programme at any time, all that we ask is that you settle your bill for the outstanding hours used on the retainer up until that point (if appropriate).

BioStrata retainers are billed monthly. At the end of each month, we generate a detailed report that enables you to see how much time is being spent on each different activity and how many total hours are being utilised. This puts you in full control of how your budget is spent.

Our 100% transparent model is in contrast to how many agencies work when it comes to retainers. With BioStrata, you will know exactly what deliverables we are working on at any given time and precisely where your budget is being spent. We also operate a “value-driven” approach to billing our time, which sees us proactively ‘write-off’ (i.e. decide not to bill for) our time if we feel that we did not provide value (this is in contrast to those agencies where there is a pressure to “bill every hour” spent). Finally, our obsession with delivering value to our clients means we carefully analyse each monthly budget report internally, so that we can make recommendations to you on which activities we should reduce or expand. This helps to ensure we are providing as much value as possible (including making suggestions for activities you might consider taking in-house, should we feel that this would be more efficient or cost-effective for you).

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