11 Jun When ego gets in the way of marketing.
Let’s face it. All of us are motivated, at least to some degree, by self-interest. It’s a survival mechanism. We see the world through the filter of our own eyes. When you sometimes feel defensive in your business dealings, especially in a declining economy, it’s understandable, but when it comes to marketing your professional services, letting your ego get in the way can spell disaster.
When designing a marketing strategy, it’s not just important to view your services and your offer from the client’s point of view, it’s critical to your success. I have often listened to professionals lament that clients don’t want to pay their fees…or that clients complain that fees are too high….and that clients are too demanding and don’t understand what it takes to deliver results for them. And frankly, that’s ego talking.
Realize this: it’s not the client’s job to understand what it takes for you to achieve results for them. Rather, it’s your job to educate the client on this point and to work as efficiently as possible to reduce your clients’ cost. And if your clients are protesting your fees, then they just don’t get your “value.”
Take a step back from the emotion and your ego. Take a deep breath. Then realize:
1. Clients will almost always question fees, that’s their job. They are supposed to protect their own budgets and it is in their own financial interest to get the best “deal” on services that they can, and professional services are no exception.
2. Clients are less likely to question your fees if your fees are competitive, if the value the client receives for the fee is obvious, and if the “experience” of doing business with you on every other level is rewarding.
3. Sometimes a complaint about fees can be a disguise for the real complaint, which your client may never have the guts to share with you.
So, besides nursing a bruised ego, what do you do when clients complain?
Realize the three points above, educate the client, use marketing tools to make your value obvious, and continually improve the client experience. With regard to fees, sometimes the “billable hour” can be your worst enemy. Get creative with client contracts and consider providing project estimates, a results-based fee like contingency, a flat fee, or other fee arrangement. Here’s a radical idea…let the client choose from alternate fee arrangements.
For those hidden complaints, try eliciting feedback in multiple ways and the real complaint will eventually surface. When it does, fix the problem. Ask for feedback by mailed survey, with a feedback form on your website, on social networking sites and in follow-up phone conversations. After every appointment, clients should be asked, how do you rate the service you received?