“Oh, wow…I didn’t know you were going to be so expensive. I don’t think I have room in my budget for that.”
This is a cop out. It’s a lie. The chance of your fees actually being out of reach of your clients is slim to none. For some reason, it’s become normal in American culture that the fees for any service which does not have a physical price tag stuck to it are up for debate. I don’t know who popularized this, but I would love to meet them one moonless evening in a back alley. Nothing about freelancing is more annoying and sometimes disrespectful than someone who feels entitled to receiving your services for 1/3rd of your rate.
So how do you combat this?
First, you need to present your Value Proposition before your prospective client ever reaches out to you. Some popular mediums for doing this are your own website, reviews on sites like Yelp, Model Mayhem, etc., and of course word of mouth. Network until you cannot network any more with other professionals in ancillary positions like photography, post production, even catering. You have more control over all of these mediums than you probably know.
Your website is your most powerful value driver. All other mediums which suggest people contact you will ultimately send them to your website whether directly, or simply because most consumers feel the need to look for one when shopping. Your ability to create a website that drives home your value will determine the amount of leads you receive. For pointers on how to improve your website, visit http://www.frendsbeauty.com/blog/elements_of_a_great_website when you’re done with this post.
It’s actually quite easy to control your reviews. Maybe I shouldn’t be sayiing this publicly, but online reviews are the easiest thing to manipulate if done correctly. Here is the thing…you have to ask people for them. I know…thought provoking, right? If you don’t ask for reviews, you won’t get a lot of them. But if you ask for them…most people are going to be happy to give them. Then, you can display your reviews on your website making it even more compelling.
NETWORKING / WORD OF MOUTH
It’s good to have people in your corner. It’s really good to have people in your corner. But it’s best to have good people in your corner. Because good people will think of you when they come across an opportunity for which you may be a good fit. So you need to utilize two forms of networking. First, as mentioned above with reviews…ask your clients to think about you when they know of someone who may need the type of services you provide. Give them business cards. You may even offer an incentive program for your clients who bring you new clients. Perhaps a discount on their next appointment. The second is in person networking events. And there are plenty. Check on sites like MeetUp.com and look for local events, attend trade shows like www.IMATS.net and www.THEMAKEUPSHOW.com, and attend classes and seminars where other industry professionals will be. Be active on social media sites and look for online groups to be active in. As always, keep your decorum professional. As for cold calling other local professionals, and sending unsolicited emails to introduce yourself…don’t do it, that ship has sailed and is now considered incredibly annoying.
Now, no matter how well you do at all of the aforementioned…you’re still going to get a whole bunch of people who believe that they should get a full face done for $6.99. It’s inevitable. You’ll just have to make yourself comfortable dealing with it. But knowing that you’ve done a good job setting up your Value Proposition, ane having the proper tools to combat this roadblock, you’ll be fine. So when you get the “Ohh, I didn’t expect you to be that expensive. I don’t think I have room in my budget for your services…” you’re going to have to decide which way you want to go. And you have several options…
1. OK, BYE-BYE…
I don’t know if you are struggling for business. This is for you to decide. But a consideration of yours should always be to simply fire your prospect in the nicest way possible. The last thing you want to do is accept a job at a cut rate that is going to make you feel animosity on the day of the project. Your client will feel it, and it will make for a very uncomfortable atmosphere. And you can be sure that your client will tell his or her friends about the poor experience with you. This is negative publicity that you do not need, and it goes against the Value Proposition that you set up. So if you cannot find any redeeming value in cutting your rate to accomodate a prospective client, then walk away. It’s that simple.
“(Client), I can appreciate the fact that you’ve considered a budget for your (project), but I think it would be best if you were to continue your search for an artist whose fees are in line with your budgetary needs. If I happen to come across any I would be more than happy to forward their information to you. I appreciate the opportunity.”
2. SEARCH FOR VALUE
Ok so your client wants to get a cheaper rate out of you and they’re playing hardball. Keep in mind, it’s highly likely that they do have the money to pay you but if you don’t want to push it, is there some other value in it for you if you do cut your rate? Do you have an ability to gain more work from this initial job? Will there be other artists or ancillary industry members there that are important for you to meet? Is there some sort of exposure that you will get that will end up driving you more business? Every business cuts rates from time to time for certain things, so while it is not unheard of, there absolutely must be a valuable reason for you to accomodate it. Always keep in mind though that once you cut a rate for one person, more people will hear about it, and it will become something that you will need to deal with more and more. And as other artists cut rates, the Perceived Value of the industry degrades. So this is a very, very touchy subject and you should only do it when you are convinced it will pay off in the end.
“(Client), thank you for the opportunity. While your budget and my fees don’t necessarily line up, your project is quite interesting so I would be happy to accomodate this time. Let’s set up a phone call and discuss moving foward.”
3. STAND FAST!
Don’t budge. Simply stand fast, and hold your ground. But you’re going to have to be a good salesperson with an excellent Value Proposition to be able to do this. If someone requests a discounted rate and your website looks like shit, you have no reviews from clients to show, and you don’t know anyone in the industry who can vouch for you…well, you’re likely going to lose that fight. So in order to be able to stand fast and fall back on your Value Proposition…well, you need to have one. And you need to be able to articulate your value both written and in person. The truth is, some artists can rightfully command higher fees than others, and if that is your feeling then you must be able to convey that if you want to stand a chance of making it a reality.
“(Client), thank you for the opportunity to work with you on (your project). I can appreciate the fact that you’ve set a budget for this but based on your requirements, and my abilities, it’s my professional opinion that you will have a challenging time finding an artist who can deliver what you need within that budget. I’ve worked professionally in this industry for ___ years, and have amassed the knowledge and experience to deliver exactly what you need at my required rate. An artist whose fees are any less will likely not be able to provide satisfactory services, which will surely cause a headache for you. I am available at my rates to make (your project) successful, and am open for a phone call to discuss any time after ___.”
The truth is, you aren’t going to win them all. When you do lose them, you need to make sure you lose them with grace. Because a prospect cannot afford you today, doesn’t mean they will not be able to afford you tomorrow. And when that day comes, you want to make sure you are the one they come crawling back to. Making a good impression on a client that I didn’t immediately end up doing business with has won me hundreds of comebackers.
Until next time…