The success of your service-based business will be built on the bedrock of how you answer this one simple question:
Do I want my services to be perceived as economical - or exceptional?
It seems like a no-brainer, doesn't it? I mean, of course we want to be perceived as exceptional.
But positioning your offerings as exceptional is more difficult than it sounds. It takes guts, unwavering faith in your abilities, and an unflagging devotion to producing quality work.
I've lost count of how many times I've sat down with a fellow creative person and said, “Look, you have to start charging more money. Just do it!”
In today's post, I'm going to have that little chat with you, right here on Copyblogger. If you're a writer, designer, or any type of service provider, this article is for you.
Why is it so tough to charge what you're worth?
It seems like it should be easy. You want to charge more? Just charge more!
But in reality, being more expensive than the average service provider means:
- You'll lose out on some business.
- You'll have to keep a straight face while people overreact to your prices.
- You'll have to continue to believe in yourself even when people look you in the eye and tell you you're being unreasonable.
- You'll need to navigate through potentially uncomfortable negotiation sessions.
The first “marketing tactic” many new service providers try is, “I'll be cheaper than everyone else!”
Positioning yourself as the bargain service provider sets you up for problems that are way worse than having to sit through some tough negotiations.
The pitfalls of positioning yourself as the “bargain” service provider
Bargain service providers attract bargain-hunting clients. And bargain-hunting clients aren't your best clients. Actually, they're going to be your worst clients.
Bargain-hunting clients need education
Clients who buy services based on price don't usually know what they need. They go into the process of contracting a service without a firm grasp of the solution that will take care of their problem.
They expect you, the service provider, to help them develop (for free) the solution they'll pay you (a bargain rate) to create.
I ran my own design studio earlier in my career. It didn't take me too many sessions of sitting down with clients who'd never worked with a designer before, holding their hands through the process, and receiving their teeny-tiny checks to realize, “Gee, this would be much easier if the client already understood what I offer!”
Bargain-hunting clients don't appreciate what you bring to the table
Clients with a healthy budget for your services have developed that budget because they have:
- Bought your type of service before, so they know what it costs
- Worked on projects using the assets you provide (copywriting, content marketing, design, coaching, etc.)
- Seen the value your service provides (that's why they have a budget for it!)
- All of the above
Bargain hunters, on the other hand, need to be “sold” every step of the way.
Wouldn't you rather be doing creative work than selling creative work? I know I would.
Bargain-hunting clients view your service as a commodity
Service-based businesses are people-based businesses. And no person I know wants their creative work to be treated like a commodity that is sold to the lowest bidder.
How to begin positioning your business as exceptional - not cheap
Getting the best possible price for your services starts with the right mindset.
The first person who has to be convinced you're worth what you're charging is you.
You must go into the pricing process with the firm belief that you provide a quality service. You have to be prepared to walk away if the potential client doesn't see the value.
Because after all, wouldn't you rather earn a nice living while serving fewer clients?
That's what we're aiming for here: quality clients who value your work - and are willing to pay for it.
Get your mindset right and the rest will fall into place.
What's the rest?
It's one thing to believe you're worth it, and it's another to price your service in a way that protects you from “scope creep.”
Scope creep is the inevitable growth in complexity and time spent on a project that happens when you don't carefully nail down exactly what you'll deliver, when you'll deliver it, and how you'll deliver it.
This is the first of three articles we're going to share on pricing your services. In the next article in this series, Stefanie Flaxman will teach you how to ask the questions and get the answers you need to precisely explain what your client is paying for. And she'll provide some guidance on how to handle it if your project scope starts expanding.
Then, in the final article in this series, Beth Hayden will appear on her white horse with simple steps for pricing your service that you can apply to almost any business.
Stick around: We'll be delivering this series to you over the next couple of weeks. We want you to have the confidence, techniques, and tools you need to earn the most you can from the work you do.
Some of our Certified Content Marketers have reported a little “problem”
We've noticed lately that some of the writers we've certified and are featuring on our Certified Content Marketers page have told us about this little issue they're having.
Since taking the Certified Content Marketers course, passing their certification exam, and getting featured on the page, their business has exploded.
They can't handle the volume of work they're bringing in.