I was on the west coast last month, speaking at an industry conference. And I don’t mind telling you, I had a terrific time.
I LOVE speaking at conferences. And workshops. And business dinners. And company off-sites.
The fact is, if you asked me to list my “top three favorite things to do,” four of them would be public speaking (the other two would be math).
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The way I look at it, what’s not to like?
When you’re a speaker at an event, they treat you well, they cover your expenses and they give you a special badge to wear (sometimes it has a colored ribbon).
When it’s your time to speak, they introduce you to the audience by reading your self-penned, eulogy-worthy bio. If it’s a large enough room, you’re even outfitted with a wireless microphone.
Like I said, what’s not to like?
There is one problem though: the fee.
You see from my perspective, speaking at an event away from home requires a minimum of three days of my time. One day to prepare; two days to travel (while continuing to prepare).
And so from where I’m sitting, the fee needs to be large enough to justify the time and effort.
From the point of view of the conference organizer or company that’s hiring me, however, it’s a different story. Because what they receive, in terms of value, is me standing in front of their group for a single hour – the time I spend preparing and travelling doesn’t benefit them.
And while I’m frequently successful at convincing people that it will be the best hour of their life, for those who aren’t accustomed to hiring outside speakers, there’s an inherent disconnect …
… I see three days; they see one hour. Under these conditions, finding a price that makes us both smile isn’t always possible.
I mention all this, because when it comes to developing and packaging your services, this is the exact opposite of what you want.
In other words, you don’t want to be in the business of selling something that takes a lot of effort to deliver but whose value is in question. (That, my friend, was an important sentence. Please pause now and read it aloud to your dog.)
Rather, you want things that are easy for you to deliver but high value to your clients.
Schematically speaking, it looks like this:
In developing packaging therefore, I recommend that you look for things to include which fit this model. For example…
- I offer unlimited revisions of anything I write. It’s not hard for me and since I’m a good writer I don’t get many requests for multiple changes.
But it’s high value for clients because it removes the risk of, “What happens if we don’t like your stuff?”
- I give my clients all my phone numbers – office, cell, home – and invite them to call me any time. Why not? It costs me nothing to pick up the phone on a Saturday and answer a few questions (it’s not like I’d be at the Sundance Film Festival otherwise).
But it’s high value for clients to know they can reach me if they need to.
- I offer free support beyond the end of our agreement. A 60-day program, for example, is supposed to last 60 days. But I throw in an additional 30 days of access and support as needed.
Here as well, the cost to me is typically zero. But it’s high value to clients because it reassures them that I won’t cut and run the moment we’re done.
Here’s the bottom line. Although your clients may be hiring you for your accounting (or whatever) prowess, you have opportunities to increase the value of your services to them without lifting a finger or spending a dime.
That’s good for them and that’s good for you. An arrangement which is sure to bring a smile to both your faces.
P.S. And speaking of speaking, my son Evan is in school in Memphis. Which means that if you’ve got a reason to bring me down there to speak, run a workshop or mow your lawn, you’re going to get a really good price. (Offer expires April, 2015. I hope.)
BRILLIANCE! As always. Thanks for doing what you do.
Thanks so much, John!
Wise counsel, as always! I did read that line out loud to my dog; he just blinked at me. Although I am sure that meant, “yes! yes! what he said!”
When I read it to my dog she got up and moved away. Probably hears too much of this stuff every day!
Good points, as always. I agree with your approach of offering multiple revisions and being accessible. As a writer too, I find that clients are more likely to come back for more if you don’t nickle and dime them and respond quickly to their questions. You have to think beyond the particular project at hand and focus on building long-term relationships.
Great point, Neil. The tendency to want to collect every cent from every interaction can definitely hurt long term relationships and ultimately, many more nickels and dimes!
I offer any party host a chance to postpone or reschedule their event without penalty. Their deposit stays on file with me, and they can pick a new date if they have a sick birthday child, a tornado, blizzard, hurricane or earthquake ensues (as New Jersey had each of these last year), a death in the family or some conflicting issue. I can’t send money back….BECAUSE I want them to have their event…but I don’t want to have a bookkeeping nightmare. So I make it easy for them to reschedule, and use the same deposit for their new date. Most entertainers ask for a deposit, and it is non-refundable if party date changes for any reason. For me…my strength is doing my work at their event….why would I make it hard for them to hire me again?
Great example that is, Diane!!
Have you considered speaking for free and selling something else? Some of the greatest speakers in the world do it for free so that they can build their personal brand. This year, I’ve seen Richard Branson, Jeffrey Immelt, and many more speak without a big check being cut. Maybe the brand is more important than the $?
I think that’s definitely the right question to ask, Kyle! What’s promotion vs. what’s income-generating and how does it fit together for a particular person or company.
If you do nothing but promotion, you can’t earn a living. But if you charge for everything, it’s hard to build the brand. The important thing is having a sense for how it works for your particular business. And it may evolve over time.