Recently Ilise Benun from Marketing Mentor ran a course through CreativeLive.com titled “Command the Fees You Deserve.” As a new business owner and web designer, I was immediately interested.
Benun’s course spanned 3 days and covered a variety of tips all focused around taking control of your business and charging the rates you need/ deserve. The information from this course helped me shift from waiting for recommendations to actively pursuing the clients I want to work with. It was absolutely worth the time and money.
The following are my notes from the classes. All of the information and screenshots belong to Benun and CreativeLive. They are reproduced here in hopes of getting you interested in the course. To learn more about how to purchase this course go to CreativeLive here. *If you have not heard of CreativeLive yet, you should. They consistently produce free live courses from leading experts on topics like photo & video, art & design, music & audio, money & life, and more. If you like learning, you won’t be disappointed.
Command the Fees You Deserve
- Selling is ok (it’s uncomfortable for most people). Remember, it’s about how you can help your clients.
- Focus. Be strategic about your marketing. Learn to define and target your favorite clients. Let these clients help you define your business.
- Remember that your worth as a person has nothing to do with the value of your services. The only value that matters is the effect of your work.
- Focus on finding prospects who can afford my services and pay what I need to earn.
Ilise Benun’s Resource List
Now is a great time to be self-employed.
Lesson 1: Big Ideas
- There is no such thing as a “creative” person or a “business” person.
- Business is not tricky. It’s common sense.
- What if you brought creativity to all aspects of your business?
- Self-Promotion: Talking about your work isn’t bragging.
- Why aren’t we talking about our work? You will need to talk about your work.
- Asking the right questions is more effective than talking.
- Self Promotion is not about you. It’s about your clients and fixing their problems.
- Selling doesn’t come naturally.
3 Steps to Success
- Decide what you need (not what you want)
- Seek and you will find
- Ask for what you need
Result: Peace, Simplicity, Calm
Lesson 2: Decide on Your Goals
What are you going to do and for whom?
Decide on and define your:
- needs and values
- business goals
- willingness to do whatever it takes to succeed
- Financial goal
- Achievement goals
- Growth goals
- Process goals
Goals should be realistic, quantifiable, and focused.
Lesson 3: Do you have what it takes (to be self-employed)?
Lesson 4: Top 5 Marketing Tools
1. Elevator Pitch
- Not about you.
- Reflects the need your prospects perceive.
- Its purpose is to get you into a conversation.
3 ways to approach
- Focus on their pain: “I revamp websites you’re embarrassed to send your customers”
- Emphasize their perceived need: “I work with companies who need to update their web presence.”
- Outcome/result/ benefit: “I create websites that drive more traffic”
This is always changing, modeling, and improving.
Will people recognize themselves in your pitch?
Be careful when using nouns and labels. Labels can be a conversation stopper.
Start with everyone you know. Then figure out who is missing.
- Making friends
- Finding connections
- Helping others
- Giving of yourself
A successful network has:
- Referral sources
3. LinkedIn Profile
- Database of professionals
- Professional search engine
- Wasn’t designed for creatives
- Your Title
- Follows you everywhere
- Traditional titles aren’t for creatives
- Be creative but accurate
- Title should have keywords & include who you do the work for
- It’s not about you
- Speak to your prospects
- Show that you understand their needs
- “If you…then me.”
- Your Photo
Use LinkedIn for researching and finding clients.
What is it that’s different about you?
4. Marketing-Smart Website
Speaks directly to your prospect’s needs
3 Essential Questions
- Who are you speaking to?
- How is your portfolio & client list ordered?
- What is the “call to action”?
- Specialize in an industry
- Be a strategist
- Use the language of the market
- Capture testimonials as they happen.
5. Email Newsletter
- Keeps you top of mind
- Helps you understand them, what you can do
- Newsletters are intimate – Show what you know
- Start building your list
- Distribute useful information
- Show what you know and do
- Monthly Newsletter
Lesson 5: The Marketing Plan
4 Cs of Marketing
- What you’re offering
- Who you’re offering it to
- Introduce yourself
- Find something in common
- Stay in touch
- Keep educating them about you
- Show what you know
- Become a “thought leader”
It’s not about being the expert, it’s about being an expert for specific clients.
Your Marketing Plan
Monday = Research (choose prospects, connect at events, choose & connect with directories & lists)
Tuesday = Prospecting
Wednesday = Content Marketing
Thursday = Follow Up
Friday = Update your website
20% of your time > work on your business
Example: Jill Anderson
Targeting a market- this is just your marketing, it’s not the entirety of your business.
Package Pricing- website design and development is the most popular
2016 goals- updating website, creating a product for passive income, speaking engagements
When choosing “this” or “that” ask what does the market need?
Seek and You Will Find
You must train people how to work well.
4 Red Flags
- No Budget
What could be happening:
- External: Chaos in the corporate culture
- Unrealistic demands and expectations
- Internal: No organizational skills or discipline
- Both: No consequences
3 things you can do:
- Give them structure
- Have a process and enforce it
- “Yes, but…”
What could be happening:
- They understand what’s involved and can’t justify the price
- They’re under a lot of pressure
- They’re penny pinchers
3 Things you can do:
- Demonstrate what’s involved
- Adjust the scope of work
- Lobby later for “extra budget”
What could be happening:
- Young in their job
- Old and out of touch
What to do:
- Teach & Guide
What could be happening:
- Have little power
- Bad attitudes
5 Things You Can Do:
- Don’t react emotionally
- Don’t take it personally
- Don’t jump to conclusions
- Think about what’s going on for them
- Be accommodating yet firm
How to Decline Projects with Grace
- Saying no to the chaotic: Sorry but that’s not possible. However, this is possible…
- No budget: I can’t afford to do project x
- Clueless: I don’t know enough about (blank) to do a competent job for you
- Disrespectful: No. I’m sorry that’s not how our policies work. Our policy is…
How to Handle Drama Queens
- Take time to figure them out
- Listen to what’s really going on
- Shift to their “frequency”
- Be the one who “gets” them
How to Attract the Right Kind of Clients
Define your Favorite Clients:
- Industry Creatives
- Be very clear in the needs and scope of work
- Ex. Companies looking to “upgrade” their image and brand
- Budget (range per year/ per project)
- Aim higher and look for it
- Internal Politics
- Ask for a single contact
- Write into the contract that decision makers must be informed
- What do your clients say?
Examples of telling clients:
- Startups can be dangerous because they don’t have the budget you need to charge
- Look for the industries that are growing the most
- You HAVE TO define the people you want to work with
Lesson 6: How to Find Focus
Focus is the key to success. Focus = “bring to the front”
If you don’t focus:
- If you can do “anything for anyone” you will be a blur in the eyes of your market
- You won’t know where to find your clients
- You won’t know what to put on your website or in your newsletter
5 Ways to Focus
- focus on a specific medium or discipline
3. Umbrella Idea/Common Denominator
- Pinpointing an idea across industries
- Strategic Design Studio
- Any company that helps people live better
- Enthusiast brands
4. Specific Technology
- Still need to figure out who needs that technology
- Laura M Foley Design
5. The Way You Work
- Emphasis on service, responsiveness, reliability
- “Where to go to get it done.”
Lesson 7: How to Find a Viable Market
What groups do the people I want to work with belong to?
Where do they meet up?
What do my clients read on and offline?
What lists are my people on?
A market is viable if…
- The market is growing (not shrinking!)
- You can find a trade association for it, it has a directory of members and puts on events
- Events that I can attend
- You can attend trade shows
Find a market that gives you accessible, comprehensive and free resources to reach your best prospects.
Target Market Brainstorm
- Specialty foods
- Venture-Backed Startups
- Education (higher/secondary/elementary/online)
Think of subcategories
Think of who is spending the money: personal vs. corporate
Starting from scratch takes longer and requires more effort
Lesson 8: How to Research Your Prospects
- Start by mining your existing network
- Find clones of your favorites clients
- Find prospects who look like they need your help
- You can only help people who know they need your help
- Angie’s List
- Find prospects who clearly value your services
- At the high level
Where to find them:
- In your neighborhood (local)
- Online and print directories
- Local Chamber of Commerce and Trade Groups
- Online (especially LinkedIn Groups)
Start with “practice prospects.” Don’t go after dream clients first.
To do: Find 5 prospects per week.
Lesson 9: How to Approach Your Prospects (Warm Email Prospecting)
Why are we afraid?
- Fear of rejection
- Silence is not rejection
- How many “nos” do you need for every yes?
- It takes too much time
- Budget time
- There are too many ways to do it
- Choose and focus which ways work best for us and our prospects
- Mistakes are ok. We are human.
Warm Email Prospecting
A short, personalized and relevant email message that will get the attention of your carefully selected ideal prospects and elicit a positive response that starts a conversation.
WEP is NOT:
- An email blast to a list of prospects
- Same email message to everyone I know
- An email that only talks about your business and all the services you offer
- Your email newsletter
Why WEP works:
- Less intrusive
- More relevant
- More personalized
- Less expensive
- Allows you to handpick the right prospects
How to draft your Warm Email Message
2 is the new 1. Reach out at least twice.
- Connect: Find a meaningful connection with your prospect
- Offer: Make an offer they can respond positively to
“They never responded” is different from “they haven’t responded yet.”
Example Warm Email Message:
Title: Let’s Create Something To Discover
My name is Ladipo Leonard and I’m the founder of Discover Eden, a creative brand showcase boutique, coming soon to Atlanta, Ga. Recently I came across your website (www.smasheslashes.com) and absolutely loved your work. Because of this, I thought to simply extend you an invitation to view our website (www.discover-eden.com) and see if “Smashes Lashes would be at home at Discover Eden.
I have attached our information packet to help answer any initial questions you may have. However, if you have any further questions please feel free to reply to this message and I will get back as soon as possible.
I’m looking forward to your reply and thank you for your time.
Books to read:
Email Format (125 words or less)
Subject line is critical. Needs to be relevant.
It’s a bridge to link you to the prospect.
Provide a URL
Call to Action.
“Should we connect?”
Follow up Email (125 words or less)
- Always follow up.
- Find original email and forward it.
Don’t remind them of the previous email. Instead, find the original email that you sent and reply to them with that email.
- “I forgot to mention….
- Here’s a link….
- Hopefully, I’ll talk to you soon.
- Will you connect me with ___ because of _____?
www.smarterfreelancing.com/ilisepdf – Warm response email
Lesson 10: How to Quantify Clients
3 reasons you don’t talk money
- People often tell the budget if you ask
- A high quote is a good starting point for a negotiation
- You can be paid well if you choose clients who value your services (and can pay for them)
How to gauge a prospect’s budget
- It’s my responsibility to bring it up.
- Be matter of fact. “Let’s talk about the budget.”
- Talking money is NOT quoting prices.
- Always ask for their budget.
- If they don’t tell you, push back.
- What have you spent on this in the past?
- “Are we talking $500 or $5000?”
- “This sounds like it’s in the $xxxx range. Is that in your budget.”
- You must leave the conversation with a number.
Don’t be pressured to give a number if you don’t have enough information.
NEVER quote prices to strangers without more information.
“In order to provide an accurate cost, I need this information…”
On your contact page, have a form with the questions you need to know.
Basic | Standard | Deluxe versions (3 tier pricing)
Lesson 11: Proposals & Contracts
- They take time to do them right
- Proposals are “high touch”
- Will you do a proposal does not mean “yes, they want me.”
5 Criteria to Decide Whether to do a Proposal
- Are they fishing or buying?
- Don’t assume they are serious or buying
- Do they understand what they are buying?
- Is it in my focus area?
- How good are your chances of winning?
- Who else is bidding? aka ASK the client who else is bidding or ask how many others are they asking
- Go no lower than 25% chance of getting it (3 other creatives)
- “Let me know how this number works.”
- Ilise likes posting your fees. It helps with weeding out wrong clients.
Get these answered before giving a quote:
- What are the goals of the project? What are the clients trying to achieve?
- What is the specific objective?
- How will you measure success?
- Who is the main decision-maker?
- Have you worked with a (blank) before? If not, pad pricing for room to teach people.
What is a Winning Proposal
- Your argument for why you’re the best fit for a particular project
- Tailor it to your prospect
- Order it from their perspective
- Here is your challenge
- Here is what we propose to do to solve it
- Here is what we’ve done before
- Easy to read & skimmable
- Don’t be afraid of repetition
- Say the same thing in different ways in different places
- Use visuals
4 Types of Proposals
- 1-page agreement or email
- For on-going clients
- For simple projects
- 2-3 pages
- For prospects who are already sold
- 3-10 pages
- For new prospects
- For clients selling you up the chain
- For major projects
- Include samples customized for that prospect
- Your proxy
- A contract
- The first time the prospect sees $$$
- Have a conversation about them
You should close 50% of your proposals. If you are winning all of your proposals, your prices might be too low.
Anatomy of a Proposal
Every proposal must have:
- Description- what they need and what you are doing
- Deliverables- what they get, when, how many, etc.
- Costs- creative fees and expenses
- Keep this simple
- Don’t itemize, offer the whole suite of services
- Ranges are ok
- Timeline- realistic production schedules
- Use a calendar approach (week 1, week 2, etc)
- Information about you
- Relevant samples
- Client references
- prep clients if included as references
- Client responsibilities
Anatomy of a Winning Proposal Video: www.vimeo.com/50222191
Presenting your Proposal
- Present in person
- In real time
- Respond to objections
- End by closing the deal
4 Reasons Clients Don’t Respond
- No Info
- No decision
- No courage- silence becomes a “no”
- No power
A few best practices
- Talk money early
- Only do them if you think you have it
- Don’t forget to close the deal
- Always get a deposit
4 criteria for closing
- Mindset: They are open to continuing the conversation and readily take your calls.
- Pricing: You’ve talked price and they’ve agreed to a budget.
- Timing: Their need is imminent and they have a realistic deadline in mind.
- Influence: Your contact is the decision maker or has an influence on the decision maker.
How to close the deal:
- Mindset: Keep a humble mindset and don’t assume
- Pricing: You are to negotiate if necessary, but keep the desperation out of it and no discounts
- Timing: Give them a deadline. Be gentle. “If you want my help, this is when I need to know.”
- Influence: Continue to exert your influence and remember that the ball is always in your court. Keep looking for ways to demonstrate your enthusiasm and competence.
They expect you to negotiate.
- Don’t approach from a desperate position
- Ask for more than you want
- Think about what else they have that you want (exposure, visibility, connections, etc.)
- Be ready to walk away
Skype with Katie Lane (Advice)
Always have a backup plan.
I am the expert. Understand what I do and what other professionals do.
When you negotiate, you’re figuring out how you’re going to work together.
Kill fee or termination fee- include in the “termination section”
Use the deposit as a termination fee.
Tie payments to actions the client takes. For example, the client reviews the design wireframe and makes a payment upon approval.
Remind your clients that if there is something difficult they want for you to deliver, they will need to pay for it.
It’s an agreement.
- AIGA and Graphics Arts Guild contracts for templates
- The Freelancers Union
Lesson 12: The Art & Science of Pricing
The Science of Pricing
What are your financial goals + expenses?
- Hourly Rate
- Actual time (per project)
Your pricing floor = the minimum you must charge
*If you’re really unsure, come up with a price and double it
Tools to Help You
- Rescue Time
- Wave Accounting
- Time tracking
- Standard pricing memo
- Estimate worksheet
Charge for EVERYTHING you’re doing.
How-to: 4 Pricing Strategies
Do you practice “desperation pricing” or “profitable pricing?”
- Per hour or per day
- Based on the concrete things I do
- This is the easiest
- Client often asks what is your hourly rate
- Per project
- Trickier- you need to account for everything you’re doing including the value you bring to the client
- Package based and retainers
- Packages for standard projects
- Retainers for monthly work
- Great for standard projects you typically get
- Value-based pricing
- Most complex to understand and to do
- If you can find out the value of the thing they are doing, base your price on that
- Breaking the Time Barrier by Mike McDerment
Hourly vs Project-Based
- Project pricing is clearer for all
- Avoid hourly: the better you get, the less you make
- Exceptions include government and corporate work
Who pays for your learning curve? Split the cost with the client and keep it private.
The Art of Pricing
Each project’s price is determined through a conversation.
- What is the client’s budget & price sensitivity (that’s the ceiling)
- Your value to the client (depth of experience, quality, process, rapport)
- Who else they’re talking to
- What is most important to them
- Create a 3 Tiered Pricing
- Base is the lowest price and delivering only what they are asking
Skype chat with Terri Trespicio
Money is not worth.
I wanted to be the thing that is valued.
Stop selling out of your own pocket.
As soon as you start competing on price alone, you are competing for the bottom of the barrel. -Terri
- What are you worth?
- Your value as a person has nothing to do with the value of your services.
- Your pricing has nothing to do with your value.
- The only value that matters is the effect of your work.
- Where can I find the prospects who can afford my services and pay what I NEED to earn?
- And once I’ve found them, how do I find out what they value and sell it to them for a fee that’s fair to all?
You Can Do This: Best Practice for Growing Professionally and Personally
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