I am an entrepreneur who has done pretty well for myself, however, there is a consistent tug of war between keeping a full roster of clients and charging what my services and knowledge is worth. We have carved out a niche that is unmatched in our industry. For whatever reason people and potential clients always attempt to "broke mouth" me into giving them price cuts. I'm clear that this pattern needs to be fixed to attract my ideal client....I just don't know how!
Shut Up Pay Me!
Dear Shut Up Pay Me,
There is nothing more gorgeous than a woman who has found her way and purpose in life. We are at our best when we are happy and comfortable in our personal and professional lives. There is an air of confidence that emanates from a woman who has worked hard and earned her way into a fulfilling career. I applaud you for your entrepreneurship, for it is never as easy as it may seem. The work is hard but the spoils are worth it.
In order to enjoy the fruits of your labor, however, you must first enjoy how your business is being run. With that, I think you may be looking at this from the wrong end.
The one thing all entrepreneurs eventually discover is their markets can be fickle and fickle markets mean fickle clients. Not everyone is going to be willing or able to afford you at your best; some people can't afford your time or your A-game. So, what do you do?
Decide Who You Are:
First, you'll have to make a clear declaration of who you are. Are you the sort of company that only deals with high-end clientele who can afford to pay inflated prices for your services? Or are you the sort of company that has a little something for everyone?
When you price yourself out of most markets, you will see less sales. The majority of people within your reach don't have the sort of money for which you're asking––and that's okay! So, therefore, if 90% of your audience has just been priced out of using your services, you are left to work with the remaining 10%––and that's fine, too!
Now, the question becomes, how often will that 10% need your services and for how long?
Here's an example: Tiffany & Co. is one of the world's most renowned jewelers. Only the wealthy can afford to buy their engagement rings, which carry a substantial markup because, well, they're Tiffany.
However, how often does someone need an engagement ring or any of the other highly priced items and wares they offer, like their magnificent china? The answer is, not every often. These are items one may need to purchase once or twice in their lifetime!
But what about the average person who can't afford a Tiffany diamond?
Tiffany & Co. is smart enough to know that most of the consumer population is middle class and, combined, they're buying power is stronger than that of the wealthy. This is the reason why stores like K-Mart never go out of business. Even luxury brand Gucci has been having trouble in today's market! The reason for that is because when times get lean, people trim the fat and when you have priced yourself out of the "everyday people" market, you become the fat.
What people will need more often than ten-carat VVS diamond rings is money clips, cufflinks, perfume, wallets, sunglasses, and other accessories. Tiffany offers a variety of items starting as low as $100 and this appeals to a wider consumer base.
They'd have a better chance at selling one million key rings than one million engagement rings!
So, my love, you're going to have to decide which end of this spectrum you'd like to be on. You can sell services that hardly anyone can afford and wait for the 10% to come around, or you can offer services that everyone can afford and do business with 100% of your available consumers. But now, your questions is, how do you do that without diminishing your brand?
Create Options for Your Clientele:
From what you have told me, what you're doing isn't working. You're so busy trying to prove who you are that you are not paying attention to who your customers are. They are asking you for something and you are turning them down because of ego.
Sure, time is money and none of us are here to waste either, but that's why we develop alternatives that can give clients what they can afford, allowing us to earn a living without wasting our time. The problem is that you are not giving yourself or your potential clientele any choices! A one-size-fits-all service will fail more people than it helps, especially when that service is highly priced.
Here's Your Homework:
- Add multiple tiers to your business structure. Basically, you are going to dissect the services offered and instead of offering them up on one big plate, you are going to dole them out in courses.
- Offer at least three levels of paid services. Think silver, gold, and platinum and charge clients accordingly. Your lowest level will include limited services, while your highest level will include everything and the kitchen sink.
- Offer ala carte services. These one-off services are a great wait to earn extra money without exerting too much energy. If there are facets of your business that can be broken down into singular actions like making a phone call on someone's behalf or writing copy for their website or event, offer those services individually. And if you have a junior working with you, hand these smaller tasks off to them.
- Offer free information. Provide a downloadable guide or strategy––something you don't mind giving away, and be sure to collect client information with each download. Essentially, you're giving them free information for exchange of their contact information, which you can use for promotions and service offerings.
- Offer discount services and packages. Combine a few services to create unique packages or bundles and offer coupon codes to those on your mailing list. Clients and potential clients need to feel appreciated and this is a great way to do that.
Here's What Will Happen:
When you offer clients more options, you offer yourself and your business more ways to make money and to keep the cash flow coming. Your time is certainly worth money but, as I answer this question for you, I am not being paid. You have just asked for free business advice and you are receiving it. So, what's in it for me? My time is just as valuable as the next entrepreneur's, so why should you be allowed to use up so much of my time without paying me?
The answer is simple––there is a multitude of tiers to my business and I understand that even though I may be helping you for free, you are helping me develop an even richer index of editorial content and that is worth money. I can put my ego aside for now, knowing that every drop of water is gathered by the well and in the end, I will never be thirsty.
When you take on this mentality and develop multiple tiers, everyone will be serviced, no stone will be left unturned, and you will make more money than you had been when just offering one price for all services.
Be careful not to let your ego run your business. Just because your time is worth 'x' amount of dollars, doesn't mean you have to make it available in full blocks or even all the time. There is always a way around a problem that doesn't include turning clients away or selling yourself short. You have to meet people where they are and if someone can only afford one minute of your time, sell it to them!
Are you an entrepreneur who has found yourself and your business stagnated by a one-size-fits all mentality? Have you priced yourself out of a very valuable market like Shut Up Pay Me? Can you apply the multi-tiered advice above to help save your business? Did you learn something from this post? Let us know in the comment section below!
New York Times best selling author, keynote speaker and workshop leader, founder of The Gorgeous Girl's Guide, Steffans Publishing Enterprises, and Karrine & Co.