If you want to bill clients at premium prices, you need to establish and present a brand that communicates your value-added as perceived by prospective clients. In plain English, you must make clients feel that you are worth the money.
A good brand is very seductive. Brand loyalty leads people to pay $5.00 for coffee when they could buy perhaps higher-quality brew for $2.00. It makes women covet $1000.00 + handbags so they can flash a certain designer label, when handbags of similar quality and attractiveness, but without the logo, are available at less than half that price.
As we continue to explore strategies to expand business, let’s give some thought to building on authenticity (see the May 28 post), using it to strengthen perceived value-added and power of the brand. Increases in perceived value are generally more profitable than increases in the quality of services delivered. Clients are known to pay more for what they think is worth more before they’ll pay for service upgrades.
Successful Freelance consultants deliver first-rate expertise and customer service. As a marketing strategy, we can attempt to make ourselves appear worthwhile to prospective clients in a number of ways. One strategy can be to package ourselves rather lavishly, handing out expensive business cards, renting office space in the high-rent district and paying big registration fees to attend prestige conferences. The premise is, in order to attract big fish clients, one must swim in the same waters.
Alternatively, one may choose the high visibility route and invest scads of time on social media sites, posting frequently, earning a high Klout score and showing up in the top ten of a Google search. The premise is, if one’s name is all over the internet, then prospective clients will see it and one will then be considered the obvious choice when it is time to hire, through the power of notoriety and perceived expertise.
Teaching, speaking engagements and visible involvement in business and professional groups are a third strategy. The premise here is that professional expertise is demonstrated through these activities and that builds trust and gives prospective clients the incentive to not only hire, but pay a premium for services rendered.
Whichever strategy you find most attractive, be mindful that your perceived value will be enhanced when you establish links with individuals and organizations that are admired and respected by your clients. If you can arrange to be photographed with the mayor or governor, it will raise your perceived value because you will be seen in the company of movers and shakers. Membership in certain professional associations or social clubs may also confer significant value.
Professional certifications can do the same, which is why a Certified Public Accountant can charge two or three times what an accountant with a degree but no special piece of paper can charge for providing nearly identical services. The CPA designation allows a trust factor to kick in and it’s worth money. According to Martin Reimann, professor of Psychology at University of Southern California, the “right” affiliations and relationships bolster one’s perceived value. They are endorsements of value-added.
My parents often told me when I was growing up that we are judged by the company that we keep. I took that admonition to heart and picked my friends with care, especially as I got older and there was more on the line. The advice applies equally to our professional lives. If it appears that we have the confidence of those whom prospective clients and referral sources respect, we are more likely to be hired or referred and better able to charge premium prices for our services. But it all starts with being authentic.
Thanks for reading,