1. The turnaround time is incredibly tight. Asking a lot of questions when you see a crazy deadline can help you make a better decision about taking the risk. Example: if it is due Friday, ask what would happen if they got it the following week instead.
2. The client is talking to a lot of other vendors. Although there are exceptions, as in the case of government contracts, a good rule of thumb is that a client looking at more than 3 vendors is probably price shopping. Run, don’t walk.
3. The client contact is tentative and inexperienced. Solution: Get a conversation with the most senior decision-maker from the client’s team as early as you can.
4. The budget is ridiculously low or ridiculously high. Unrealistic expectations are usually behind this situation.
5. If there is no budget, that is a red flag. Perhaps these are people who haven’t thought out what copy costs and should be educated before seeking proposals.
Source: Based on article in PR Daily Extra, 3/12/14