Estimating your campaign or project’s lead time

The lead time is the amount of time between when you first start to work on something and when it’s finished. Estimating your campaign or project’s lead time can help you set a realistic budget and plan more effectively for any timing issues that may arise, as well as understand how long things will take to complete.

However, it’s important to understand that there’s one factor beyond our control that plays a significant role in how long a project takes to complete: the customer.

The customer decides when something is finished. So… maybe a better question is, “where do your standards, budget, and deadlines meet?”

We make every effort to be transparent and honest about how long it takes to create something, but we have no idea how long it will take for you to fall in love with what we create 😍. You’ll need to be honest with yourself about how particular you are, how much money you’re willing to spend, and when your project or campaign absolutely must be finished.

Your answer to those questions will provide a much better indication of how long the project will take than any estimate we can provide based on historical turnaround times. However, there’s a way to get a realistic estimate when you’re looking to have something finished ASAP. Keep reading.

How long will my project take with an unlimited service like what Phvntom Inc. offers?

Each of our marketing services are billed on a flat-rate retainer and touted as “unlimited”, which might make some people skeptical of how long big projects like building a website might take. How can you budget for something that’s billed as a monthly retainer? First of all – you’re paying a premium price for premium service. Unlike services that are billed hourly, our only incentive is to make you a lifelong customer. We’re going to complete your requests as fast as we can.

We also understand that saying, “as fast as we can” doesn’t instill a lot of confidence or provide you with much clarity. That’s why we’ve associated an estimated lead time with almost every task you can imagine. You can use these estimated lead times to calculate a ballpark figure on how long a major project will take. Let’s take a look at some examples…

How long will it take to build a brand new website?

This is a popular question and one that has hundreds (if not thousands) of variables. Thankfully, we can break it down to a science.

Step 1: do you want to approve the designs beforehand?

If you answered “no”, your account manager can point you to thousands of pre-built websites that might serve as a good starting point and allow you to skip this step.

If you answered “yes”, don’t forget to add an Enterprise Graphic Design plan with your Web Development Plan. You can also go through each phase one at a time if you’d like.

Most companies only care to approve the design of the homepage and/or a few key sub-pages. How many designs do you need before one fits your vision? That’s up to you. Usually, clients choose a design they love after receiving 3-5 options. View the current estimated lead times below:

Step 2: developing a functional demo

Once the design is settled, we’ll get into the actual development of the site. Obviously, this depends on what you need. However, you can make a reasonable estimation on how long the demo will take by visiting the library of web design tasks below:

Step 3: making revisions based on client feedback

This stage ultimately depends on the customer. In many scenarios, the website is approved for launch the same week. However, in rare cases, this step has taken more than 6 months due to indecisiveness and requesting circular revisions. To be clear – there’s nothing wrong with being indecisive as long as the cost doesn’t outweigh the benefits for you.

How long will it take to set up a marketing campaign?

The minimum amount of time it takes for us to set up your marketing campaign is usually proportionate to the size of your budget for ad spend. Quite frankly, we spend a lot more time on larger budgets because we’re able to allocate them towards a bigger quantity of promotional offers for testing.

For example: with $1,000, we can only run a few ads on different platforms because any less won’t produce enough data to make informed decisions. However, with $10,000, we can run 10x as many ads in the same amount of time and determine the best performer much faster.

Seasonal promotions are another common request that you’ll want to prepare for in advance. PLEASE don’t purchase an advertising plan the week of Black Friday. It’s NEVER going to work. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by waiting until the last minute on such a critical holiday. If you’re currently in this situation, let’s talk about Christmas and New Year’s Eve promotions instead. We’ll make every effort to help you, but your campaign will perform much better if you give us a reasonable amount of time to prepare.

How long will it take for me to make money on my ads?

This is another question that’s very common and highly circumstantial. First of all, not all ad campaigns can be directly linked to sales… but that doesn’t mean you won’t experience a lift in sales. There are a lot of reasons for this, but it’s mainly because of these three:

  1. Most people who see your ads won’t immediately make a purchase. If they wait too long, the ad doesn’t receive attribution for the sale – even if it’s how they learned about your brand.
  2. Many customers forget to redeem a promotional offer (e.g. coupon codes) when they purchase a product. It’s easier for them to say, “oh well” than it is to ask the company to honor it.
  3. A lot of sales are untraceable. A good example of this would be seeing a billboard for a Big Mac and buying one for lunch the next day. Do you think McDonalds knows you saw the billboard? Not likely. Even with advanced tracking technology, iOS 14.5 has made tracking across apps less accurate on more than 85%+ of all iPhones.

With all this in mind, you can reasonably assume that it will take 30 to 90 days to see a positive return-on-investment. If your ad account seems like it’s still losing money after 90 days, it’s time to calculate the performance using a different method or throw in the towel altogether.

We always recommend monitoring your sales to see if they’re trending in a positive direction instead of only looking at the reports in your ad accounts. That way, you’re looking at the bigger picture of how your brand is actually performing, which is kind of the point… right? If you have a seasonal sales pattern, you can also compare your performance with the same month from the year before.

Find the estimated lead time for all other services

Now that we’ve covered a few different scenarios and learned how to calculate the estimated lead time for projects, campaigns, and profitability; you can put the same skills to use for everything else. Just remember – you’re the only person who knows how much you might influence these estimates. Use the list below to start crunching some numbers:

How are our lead times estimated?

Our lead times estimates are just that: estimates. They’re based on historical performance data and offered as a convenience. They’re not guarantees, nor do they warrant any type of compensation if we fail to meet them. However, we do take those situations into consideration when clients express dissatisfaction with our services. We also update them frequently to improve their accuracy.

ELT’s are easily influenced by our day-to-day operations, number of active employees and any unexpected request loads. We are actively developing a huge amount of features for our clients that will allow them to make requests that directly integrate with lead times. Some of these features include compound lead times (a combined estimate for all of your active requests) and machine-learning that dynamically updates estimated lead times in realtime based on our current request load and historical performance. We will send out a notice to all clients when these features become available.

Have a question? Looking for a personalized estimate? We’re happy to help. Schedule a free consultation for your project or campaign today.