The one question every business owner dreads?

I spoke to a prospective client today. He runs a successful and growing Web development agency. It makes apps too, and is poised to become an even more successful agency soon, as the world pretty much goes completely mobile.

After a few minutes I started to realise that I was being a real chicken about what I, as a marketer, would and wouldn’t say to this potential client. Right there and then, as I was talking to this client who had invited me to spend time with him and discuss potential business, I suddenly lost my cojones.

And it was all because of one question: how much do you charge?

If you’re a business owner this is a question that either terrifies you or makes you happy. It’s sometimes hard to find the right price point, and the right price point doesn’t always mean ‘cheap’.

But my services were called cheap today. And that hurt.

Like being hit by a particularly angry Mike Tyson, it hurt all the way to the car park, and all the way home. My heart was heavy; I felt the world was ending. My lovely, beautiful company that I had worked hard to build up to the growing upstart it is today, was called cheap (actually the services were called cheap but it’s the same thing).

Being competitive

It was pretty obvious that I had pitched in too low as regards the cost of my services. I genuinely wanted this man’s business and I thought that the only way to get it was to be ‘competitive’.

When businesses use the word competitive it only ever means one thing, that they are cheaper than everyone else. For some bizarre reason that is what I thought I had to be today.

An honest reflection of my skills

Why do some service business owners ‘go low’? Why did I assume he was looking for a deal, rather than an honest reflection of my skills?

What is wrong with telling someone that they can’t afford you?

We all know why we pitch low sometimes, but we never talk about it. It’s scary running a business in a recession. You have to make money.

But that was wrong. That whole conversation was wrong. And I lost the deal because I pitched way too low, because I pitched with fear.

As a content marketer who produces good and effective content marketing, I should have been confident enough to tell this person exactly how much I think I am worth. But I didn’t, because of fear.

It won’t happen again. I learnt a lesson. Believe in your offering, and have the conviction to price it as a product/service of quality. You can always negotiate, but it’s a lot more satisfying and pleasant to negotiate down, and 99.9% impossible to negotiate up.

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Posted in Branding, Relationship marketing and tagged , .