The Best Practice for Marketing and Pricing Your Consulting Services

I love fresh starts: New Years, the beginning of school, spring. There’s something about the limitless possibilities and the promise they hold that creates an excitement and happiness within me that leaves me almost giddy (okay, drop the almost) and adventuress.

So as I begin my second year as WIC’s president, I felt inspired to write about two recurring themes I saw in 2011:

  • Pricing: should I raise my prices and how
  • Marketing: should I market my services and how

The short answer: Yes. How: Just do it!
Just Do It
Every morning, I see two women walking a street near my home. They’re older, heavy, and one uses a walking stick. But every morning, they’re out walking–and they do it confidently. And that’s exactly how we should approach pricing and marketing our consulting services.

Odds are that which is preventing you from marching forward is a roadblock only in your mind. If those two women held onto thoughts that they were too old or too heavy to walk as others I know do, they’d miss out on the joy that I see in their faces every morning — and I’d really miss seeing that, because they inspire me.

So, just do it. Let go of your worry and preconceived notions and raise your prices. You’ll be surprised by the results. 

The success reported by WIC’s Leaders Network members and the feedback in the 9th Annual WIC Compensation survey from consultants who took the plunge bear that out. One quote in particular sums up this point well, “I simply took a breath and added 10 – 20 percent. Viola!” Another participant shared how she “really just made a decision to charge more. I come up with project fees like always and then before presenting the numbers, I bump up the amount to counter my tendency to underestimate effort and undervalue my services.”

Remember, you’re good at what you do — really good. And therein lies the key.
Confidence Is Key (and Fake It ‘Til You Make It)…
Running your own business takes a lot of chutzpah. It’s not for everyone. So you’re already ahead of the game. But for some reason when it comes to money, many of us pause. 

So, assess your services. Survey the market, including demand. And pick a price that reflects the value that you deliver and what the market can bear. That doesn’t mean lowball, the market bears a variety of prices based on the value of the offering — the better the offering, the higher the price.

When it comes time to discuss costs with clients (after you’ve wowed them with the deliverables), simply present the price. Be matter of fact. Be confident. Don’t add extraneous explanations. And don’t “defend” the price. You already outlined the deliverables and value; nothing more is needed.

Easier said than done, I know. But here’s what I used to tell my public speaking students: no one knows how you feel inside but you — unless you show them. Don’t show them. It doesn’t matter if you’re a quivering mass of nerves and doubt on the inside. Project confidence and that’s what your audience sees. And the more you do that, the more you’ll start feeling what you’re “faking.”
…So Is Being Clear About Your Value
Being confident is key, but so is articulating what you do and the value it brings. Sometimes, this can be challenging in part because it feels like we’re bragging. So, if it’s hard for you to talk about yourself or you’re not quite sure what your sweetest value proposition is, work with a coach. I do, and it’s been illuminating — and I’m already seeing an impact on my business.

Once you’re clear on your messaging, strut your stuff. Write articles. Blog. Speak. Update your website. Meet people. Blog. Tweet. Answer questions on LinkedIn. Start a Facebook page. Blog.

There are a lot of ways you can market yourself these days. Choose the ones that make best sense based on your audience. But whatever you do, don’t do them all — at least don’t start them all at once. Get one up and running and then start the next one. The one I think all consultants should strongly consider is blogging, in case you didn’t pick up on that already. 😉

Blogging is the equivalent to speaking softly but carrying a big stick — blogging is a big stick when it comes to demonstrating your knowledge.

So what do you say? Are you going to just do it?

I’d also love to hear about your favorite “big stick” and why. And if you feel inclined, share your favorite best practice for using that tool.

Oh, and if you have a question about value-based pricing and marketing your services, go ahead and post it. If I can’t answer it, someone else on the WIC board can.

avery@aveconsulting.com' About Avery Horzewski

Principal of AVE Consulting, Avery is a marketing and customer communications consultant, and serves on WIC's board of directors as president. As a consultant, she works with companies of all sizes to develop compelling, persuasive, and effective customer-centric marketing and communication strategies that encompass everything from websites to social media to print collateral. Avery assumed the role of WIC president in January 2010, after overseeing the organization’s marketing, PR, social media, and website initiatives for three years.

Comments

  1. farris11@juno.com' Nancy Farris says

    I love it, just raise your prices but what will happen when the “client” tries to get away without paying for your sevices?

  2. Hi Nancy,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. By “just do it,” I’m referring to having the confidence to do it. “We still need to assess our services, survey the market including demand. And pick a price that reflects the value we deliver and the market can bear….” A lot of the conversation that I heard the past year focused on worry about clients thinking the price was too high and just not having the confidence to raise prices. This post was meant to address that particular issue.

    That said, your question is a good one and one that consultants should consider whether or not they raise their prices. Raising prices doesn’t mean a client is more likely to “try and get away without paying for your services.” Odds are if a client is likely to do that, s/he will do it regardless of price; and it behooves us to put practices in place to protect us.

    A few best practices for protecting yourself include:
    • Always bill a portion of your fees upfront before you start work
    • Employ a milestone billing practice, so you don’t wait until you’ve done all the work to find out the client won’t pay
    • Research new clients a bit to see if there’s any warning signs that there might be payment issues
    • Have a resource on hand to help with difficult collections
    • Document everything very clearly upfront—including getting a signed agreement—so you have backup should you have to pursue legal action

    A 🙂

  3. robin@pieracciconsulting.com' Robin Pieracci says

    Avery,

    I really like your point on the importance of clearly articulating your value. . I find many of my clients are uncomfortable raising rates and even feel pressured to reduce their rates or project fees out of fear of losing the project. We’ve all thought that a lower fee is better than no fee at some point, but that is not always the case. While it is important to ensure your fees reflect the value, you also have the power to influence how clients understand and perceive that value. The better you can relate it directly to the impact on the client’s bottom line, the faster they’ll ask “where do I sign?”.

    Hope 2011 provides you much value in life and business!

    Robin

  4. Thanks Robin. I totally agree with your point that we have the power to influence how clients understand and perceive value and that relating it to their bottom line is the fastest way to achieve that.

    And thats for the good wishes in 2011. I wish you the same as well!

    A 🙂

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