90 Seconds or Less: Don’t be “Affordable”

I was chatting with someone I consider a mentor yesterday, when they dropped a gold nugget of unconventional wisdom that aligns perfectly with the business strategy I’ve taken with my writing work.

We were chatting about pricing and costs – and how often writers (and other consultants) are timid to quote what they’re worth out of a bizarre, misguided protectiveness of a client’s budget. I’m not talking being “cost-concious”, I’m talking the internal monologue you have when sitting at your monitor, wondering how to quote:

“Ack, but if I charge X, it will come out to Y – and I just don’t think the client has the budget for that!”

Boo frickety hoo. Contrary to the opinion we seem to be pre-set with, you do not exist to save your client money: you exist to MAKE them money by creating value for their business.

And that’s when Derek shared his mind:

“Don’t be affordable.”

“You don’t want to be the “affordable” option – the guy they come to with their ragtag projects. You don’t want to be the guy who is delivering steak on a McDonald’s budget.”

What he said next is what really hit me:

“You want to be the guy where they say, “Man, when we get some money – when we’ve got a budget to do something awesome – we want to work with Joel.”"

Why chip out a day-to-day doing minor, bland jobs that don’t excite you? If you’re any good at what you do, why settle for that kind of work?

And yet, so many talented writers eek out a living for bottom of the barrel wages because they’re afraid to take any pride in their work or hear the word “No”.

Sometimes, “No” is “Not now.”

Prove you’re the BEST option, not the most affordable one – and then hold yourself to that standard.

Whether you’re a writer, graphic designer, consultant, SEO, content strategist – it doesn’t matter. Work to be the option people want to be able to afford.

5 Responses to “90 Seconds or Less: Don’t be “Affordable””

  1. Jay says:

    Derek and his wisdom! Now to get on his pre sell book list.

  2. Gareth says:

    I don’t totally agree. My best clients usually come to me after using agencies and know I can deliver better or equal results at a lower price. I’ve also been a professional buyer, you always look for a ‘better deal’. But agree, being awesome and having a USP will help your cause!

    • Joel says:

      Room for debate, but the caveat is you have to be WORTH what you’re charging in order to warrant that rate. If you just go around throwing expensive prices at people, they’re idiots for taking you up on it unless you’re worth what you’re asking for. It goes both ways – but frankly, I’m not interested in underselling myself. If I know my work is going to bring someone X value, then that’s what I’ll charge for.

  3. Derek says:

    Gareth, the “all-things-being-equal’ factor is in play. For the single proprietor or small agile company, it is suicide to provide parity at a discount. People brag about two things: how little they paid, or how great their purchase. You can fall into whichever camp you want, but if you fall even a little bit into the second option, you may as well charge for it.

  4. RSGmike says:

    Our business model started as “smack dab in the middle pricing” because we knew we delivered superior service to large agencies. As we grow we try to maintain that pricing model without sacrificing service. What we have learned over the years is that our pricing model has worked and when we attempt to be the low ball bid it NEVER pays off. I had the luxury of having a mentor (Rick Wigmore) teach me the value of selling “value” not price a long time ago. Price is a mugs game and we will all eventually beat eachother into bankruptcy if we keep competing on it. Joel, I say to my staff that I can’t wait to sell enough content marketing and copywriting so I can use you.
    Cheers! It’s the weekend!

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