When should you start talking budget with a prospective client? Jackie Wright notes on the Valley PR Blog it's a question that shouldn't be ducked, especially if you're a small business practitioner. She's right -- at least in terms of broad brush estimate of charges. Both parties should sense whether they're in an affordable context, and move on if not.
"Many colleagues," Wright notes, "have told me that you should never approach budget within the first few meetings. Asking too early about an assigned budget is almost guaranteed to make you look money hungry and only interested in your bottom line. ... But, as a small business owner, I don’t have a lot of man hours to put into researching and developing a proposal for a business that has not allocated sufficient monies towards their marketing initiatives."
Of course, this assumes the practitioner will be the one to bring up the money question. Often, though, a client will want at a cost estimate to know whether to continue the conversation. It's in the interest of both parties to know whether given services will be within an available financial parameter.
Whether or not talking about money makes you look money hungry (it needn't), you need to know early on whether you're talking about reality.
It's desirable for both parties to know whether there's likely to be a financial fit. So once you get a general idea of what might be in a client's interest, and he or she seems interested, offer a cost estimate to see if it's a feasible prospect. Most would-be clients are likely to appreciate that -- bringing up money by no means makes you a money-grubber.