Follow these three rules and you'll be able to increase your rates, make a bigger impact, and stop worrying about doing more work.
If you’ve been wanting to figure out how to increase your rates and keep your current customers, there are a few things you can do. While all of these tactics can be successful in the short-term, only a few allow you to keep your rates high and charge what you’re worth for years and years.
Rule #1: Don’t allow yourself to be commoditized
You know what I’m talking about: You might be in your industry with a deeper understanding on whatever product or service you sell, but a newbie in the market looks the same. They have the same basic credentialing as you. If you put yourself into the shoes of a prospect shopping to hire someone in your field, do you stand apart? Or have you been commoditized in the eyes of the prospect?
Is there something you do that is measurably different? A specific formula; a tool that you can use that your competition cannot? Breaking free of the Commoditization Trap is less about being different and more about showcasing what makes you unique.
There’s an old story about Claude Hopkins, a great marketer and copywriter, who helped Schlitz Beer go from the bottom of the national rankings to the No. 1 position, and hold it for years. Hopkins used a strategy of defining what made Schlitz special. He talked about the water they used in brewing, how Schlitz used only the best malts. The beer making process, while likely identical to what Schlitz’s competitors were doing, was spelled out clearly and in a compelling way.
It was with this ad that Schlitz quickly rose to the top in terms of beer sales in the United States. Hopkins didn’t create a new recipe, he simply showcased the strength of the recipe. So what’s your secret recipe? What makes you different? How can you define what you do in a way that others cannot (or even, in a way that others just have not defined)?
Rule #2: Hold my hand.
As a consumer, I want to pay an for an experience where someone tells me what is going to happen next. Take, for example, a recent experience I had with a photographer: Over the weekend, I met with a very talented photographer to get a few business shots taken for marketing collateral. Her Instagram was well curated; a similar style across all of her photos. When she sent the bill over, it was far below what I had anticipated it to be. Never being one to turn down a great deal, I signed the proposal and met her for the shoot.
Her equipment was top-of-the-line. She was shooting with a Canon 6D, L glass and natural light. I knew she had the chops to shoot great photos and her sack of prime lenses told me she had the gear. But where she fell short on my expectations was how she modeled and posed me. She didn’t have much direction. She hadn’t requested I bring in any props or even a change in clothes. Having enough photography experience myself to know what would make for a great shoot, I came prepared. There were shots I knew I wanted and then requested from her.
Had I not been so prepared, the shoot would have been quick and nearly useless. I would have had one outfit, a handful of poses and no prop to represent who I am. The photographer had low rates because she didn’t hold my hand. She didn’t have a punchlist of the shots, or a questionnaire asking me what I wanted to get from the shoot. She didn’t ask if I needed a portrait for LinkedIn or for a hero image on my website. She just showed up, ready to take technically good photos.
Rule #3: Focus on things that create the biggest impact
The people who charge the most are also those who provide the biggest impact. When I think about lobbyists on the Hill, they’re charging obscene fees to make teeny, tiny changes to bills. They’re getting paid a strong 6-figure income to fix clerical errors on new bills that Congress is signing.
Take, for example, my uncle, the longest-serving lobbyist in Arizona Senate history. One summer, while shadowing my Uncle Allen in Phoenix, I watched him save a client of his hundreds of thousands of dollars due to a clerical error. On a bill that was already signed by the Governor, there was a stipulation that my uncle’s client had to pay $100,000.00. Somehow in the creation of the document, $100.00 was changed to $100,000.00. A small, acceptable fee was increased 100 times just because someone typed in the figure incorrectly. It was Uncle Allen’s job to move that decimal to the left three digits, and in doing so, he was rewarded handsomely.
Uncle Allen was a little hinge that swung a big door. He created enormous impact in the business for his clients, even though the work he did was relatively easy. When we focus on making a big impact, we can find ways to increase our fees without meeting objection.
Photo credit: Billion Photos/Shutterstock