You know that feeling when you get a lead or a referral and it's exciting. So you go and meet with the client and the meeting goes great. They love your work. You're excited to take on the project. Then it gets to the point where you talk about price and you and the client are worlds apart. You're thinking your price needs to be at least several thousand dollars in order to do all the work required to pull everything together. The client is thinking he's got a budget of just a couple hundred bucks. Why does this happen?
Is Your Marketing Attracting The Wrong People?
The problem where your vision and expectations are dramatically different from your client's expectations – especially as it pertains to the budget – almost always comes down to your marketing. To get some clarity on how you are defining yourself, ask yourself a few questions:
- If someone asks what you do, what do you say?
- If someone asked your clients what you do, what would they say?
- When you look at the content on your own website, who does that say you are?
Are you finding yourself answering these questions by listing technical services? If you are like most web designers you're probably marketing your services and the tools you're able to use. For example, the homepage of your website is probably asking clients if they are looking for certain services like graphic design, branding, or social media marketing. Or, maybe you start with something more abstract like how you help people grow their businesses. Then you have a “Services” page that lists your buffet of technical skills and services.
This concept used to work because the skills alone were very valuable. The problem is those skills have become commodities and commodities are cheap. Furthermore, the clients you probably want to work with do not have the ability to differentiate between your professional level of service and all the cheap alternatives out there.
So, here's the bottom line. If you're identity and your marketing focuses on your skills and services then you're going to attract people looking for low budget solutions.
Home Depot vs Home Builders
You can go to Home Depot and buy everything you need to build an entire house. You can get the drywall, doors, windows, electric wiring, plumbing, lumber, etc. But Home Depot doesn't market themselves as a place to buy a house. They are basically a hardware store. They are focussing on the raw materials, not the finished product. Consequently, who do they attract? People looking for raw materials as inexpensively as they can get them. If the drill at Home Depot costs twice as much as the drill at Lowe's then they'll say, “That's too expensive. I can't afford that. I'll go to Lowe's.”
You Can't Raise Your Prices Unless You Change Your Market
In other words, Home Depot is not able to significantly raise their prices compared to Lowe's and other home improvement stores because they will price themselves out of the market. To sell lumber, drywall, doors, and windows at significantly higher prices you have to change the market. You need to sell those things to people who are looking to buy a house.
Don't Sell The Tools, Sell The House
Just think how much more people are willing to pay for doors, walls, and windows when they buy them assembled as a house compared to picking them up at Home Depot. Not only that, but the people who buy houses buy ALL of those things at the same time.
If you want to attract clients with a real budget and you want to be able to charge dramatically more than the competition, don't sell your skills. Sell the house.