About Brand Central Station
Founded in 2001, Brand Central Station has operated as a marketing consultancy owned by Mike Bawden, a marketing pro with over 30 years’ experience in market research, advertising, public relations and branding.
What We Do
BCS provides advice and counsel on matters related to building brands, developing corporate cultures and improving marketing communications. As an outside, independent consultant, Mike helps companies find ways to clearly position their brand and enhance its value – both in the minds of customers and on the balance sheet.
This is accomplished by providing clients with the following services:
Branding and Marketing Advice – Mike is a recognized branding expert, has written extensively on the subject and has a wide range of sector experience in both the private and public sectors. He also has extensive board and C-Suite experience and, as a result, has a keen understanding of the financial impact of well-managed marketing and branding programs.
Access to Resources – For the past three decades, Mike has built an extensive list of resources and strategic partners located in countries from around the world.
New Market Development – As a founding member of the ECCO Communications Network and a former advisor to the World Trade Institute (based in New York City), Mike brings both the resources and the experience needed for businesses to branch out – whether that’s down the block, across the country or around the world.
Mike has extensive experience in a wide variety of business sectors, including …
• Automotive (Aftermarket and Retail)
• Beauty and Grooming
• Business Services
• Comics and Publishing
• Construction Services
• Consumer Products
• Creators (Artists, Filmmakers and Authors)
• Fast Food
• Financial Services
• Gaming and Hospitality
• High Technology
• Industrial Products
• Legal Services
• Marketing Services
• Media Properties
• Non-Profit Groups/Organizations
What’s It Cost
Believe it or not, it is possible to get a good idea of what marketing services should cost by visiting the consultancy’s website.
Just click on the tab for the service area and we will provide you with “off-the-shelf” prices for some services and more general cost guidelines for larger, more complex projects.
Consulting Services – Time spent providing advice to clients falls under the general heading of “consulting” and generally falls into one of two categories: discreet projects or on-going counsel.
Discreet Projects typically range from small ($3,500 – $7,500) to large ($15,000+) and take 60-90 days. The best way to keep a discreet project’s cost in-line is to begin, up front, with a target budget. Then the scope of work can be adjusted to fit the time requirements and money available.
BCS will provide a written scope-of-work document with costs and deadlines clearly spelled out before accepting an assignment.
On-Going Counsel assignments usually last much longer than discreet projects (typically 6-12 months or more) and require a paid-in-advance retainer which is then replenished each month depending on the hours and expenses put against in during the preceding period.
Because retainers are paid-in-advance, the hourly rate for on-going counsel assignments is usually lower than discreet projects ($100/hour versus $150/hour).
A typical on-going counsel assignment would be for a service like “Communications Coaching” with a corporate marketing executive or some other C-Suite member. The retainer would be for 25 hours ($2,500) and each month the client would receive an invoice for time spent (billed at $100) plus out-of-pocket and approved expenses.
Research Services – Like consulting services, research is typically billed by the hour and costs can vary widely depending on the depth and scope of the research required. But after providing research services to hundreds of clients and brands, BCS can offer the following cost guidelines.
Primary Research usually refers to direct observation or inquiry with the subject of the research. This includes surveys, focus groups and one-on-one interviews. This kind of research, done right, is more expensive than secondary research but can be tremendously insightful when fine-tuning messaging and looking for practical insights that can create a strategic advantage when it comes to advertising, promotion or publicity.
Most primary research projects Mike has managed run in excess of $12,000 and can run as high as $50,000. The actual scope of the project is very budget dependent, so in order to keep costs in check as much as possible, be sure to have a very clear idea of what you want to learn and how broad an audience you want to understand.
There are less expensive ways to conduct primary research – primarily through online surveys and customer interviews. While this information can be very helpful, it still requires a good bit of time to interview or survey a broad sample group so that the results are reliably applicable to your situation.
Secondary Research is often less expensive, but can also tend to be “generic” and contradictory – especially if the source material isn’t exactly “on point” with what you want to know. This is where the experience Mike brings to the table can be so helpful.
Not only does Brand Central Station subscribe to a number of useful national database services, but Mike also has a broad depth of experience and pool of resources to call upon to help add insight to the data collected.
Most secondary research projects run in the $5,000 – $7,500 range and while the results often provide lots of answers, they can also open up new areas for more research and discussion down the road.
Facilitation Services – Sometimes knowing what to do just isn’t enough to actually get the job done. That’s when clients find it helpful to have Mike or another qualified outsider handle a project (and all of the potential problems that may result).
Project Management assignments can be on a “per project” basis or on a “retained” basis, as an extension of the consulting services offered to clients.
Project-related time is invoiced at $150/hour (and estimated in advance). Retained time is pre-billed (usually a lump sum of $1,500 – $2,500) and then billed at a rate of $100/hour, plus out-of-pocket and pre-approved expenses.
Agency Evaluations are sometimes required when the client doesn’t feel they’re getting the time, attention or quality of thinking they require from their ad agency, PR firm or digital services provider. Mike can assist with conducting an objective review of services and, if needed, manage a search and selection process that will bring in a new, qualified and enthusiastic partner more attuned to client needs.
The cost for an evaluation usually runs $3,000 – $9,000 (depending on time requirements/deadlines and location of the client).
Agency search and selection services typically run $7,500 – $20,000 depending on the size of the account, location of services and the number of agencies participating in the review.
Vendor Selection is often a headache that prevents clients from taking the steps necessary to take their brand to the next level. Mike will work with the client team responsible for the brand to identify an appropriate scope of work and expectations and then do the legwork necessary to identify, pre-evaluate and present the “best of the best” for final selection.
Cost for this kind of service typically runs in the $3,000 – $12,000 range depending on the number of vendor candidates required for the final review, travel requirements and timing. In cases where the majority of the sourcing can be done remotely (via online and phone), the costs can even be less.
Online/Digital Services – For small businesses, most non-profit organizations and creators, the first steps toward building a marketable brand need to be taken online. That’s where Mike has developed a suite of online services that are affordably priced and also effective.
Web Development costs can run as low as $500 for a basic, one-page site. Costs go up from there but are clearly and completely explained to the client before work begins. Need help writing content, acquiring photos, etc.? Not a problem, BCS has the resource pool to dive into for those services at almost any price.
Web Maintenance is a must for brands who have an online presence. Ignoring your brand’s website means, in essence, you’re ignoring your brand. And at a price starting as low as $100/quarter, Brand Central Station can make sure your brand doesn’t die a slow death online.
Social Media Management is an essential part of any brand-building program, whether you’re trying to attract fans, followers, friends or customers. BCS manages campaigns across a number of different platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube to name a few) for as little as $5 a post.
Set-up charges apply to get things started, but typical campaigns run anywhere from $150/month to $750/month.
Email Marketing Programs are the most cost-effect means of reaching and engaging your audience online, yet most brands fail when it comes to the effective use of email to build rapport with their customers and engage an audience.
Email marketing programs usually consist of two parts: the subscription to the service providing the distribution of emails and management of lists (starting around $35/month and going up from there) and the content creation/management function provided by BCS (starting at $150/campaign).
Digital Public Relations Suite consists of four important tools taht can assist you in brand-building through “earned media.” Whether it’s building and managing an online pressroom, distributing news releases to email inboxes, or understanding how the external messages you’re sending are actually being received – Brand Central Station can help.
A more complete menu of prices can be found on the Online Services page.
How We Work
Brands are assets. It’s that simple.
That means they can be managed, and their value can improve or depreciate as a result of that management.
What does that mean for you?
Simply put, people want to form relationships with brands that are well understood and highly regarded. Once you understand that, you understand that as a brand’s value improves in the marketplace, so can your margins and market share.
But you have to be prepared and organized to take advantage of that “positive momentum.”
If you’re not built for success, your brand will appear confused. And that can cost you.
Brands that appear confused – the result of constantly changing or convoluted messaging – lose value in the eyes of those people who matter most to the brand’s long-term success: customers, employees, shareholders and business partners.
That’s why you need an experienced marketing pro like Mike Bawden and what he offers with Brand Central Station.
Mike’s methodology is easy to understand and built on a very simple idea: brand value is built by a system of promise making and promise keeping:
Promise Making – external communications and messaging that set expectations about the brand; and
Promise Keeping – internal communications and activities that “pay off” the promises made on the outside.
Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, effective communications isn’t easy for a lot of companies and that’s where Mike and the resources Brand Central Station can help.
Contact him today by clicking here.