One of the most pressing questions consultants ask Zoetica Media founder Kami Huyse is how they can charge more for their services. Many fear that they’ll alienate existing customers or scare away prospective ones.
The answer, she explains in a recent livestream, “lies in delivering more value for your clients so you feel good about charging more, so that they feel good about you and what they're paying for the service, because it gets them the results that they want.” Adding value is the operative element here. “You can't just charge [more] and not add value.”
Here are Kami’s 3 “Secret Cs” that will leave both you and your clients satisfied.
Create a system
Create a proprietary system or secret sauce for your process or method to deliver value.
Clients look for solutions, so consultants should create a system that helps clients solve their problems in the most effective and efficient way possible. “At the end of the day you need a system that you're selling to your clients. They want a system that will get them from point A to point B in the fastest possible [way]…. [they are] looking at you as the expert. They want you to tell them what the pathway is,” says Kami.
An example of such a system is Kami’s Pathway to Social Media Mastery which helps “PR and marketing consultants get their social media dialed in so that it's driving business for them” and they’re able to grow their own authority and thought leadership. You can glance at her system by watching the six free videos she’s posted online.
She also shares that management consulting firms McKinsey & Company, Bain & Company, and Boston Consulting Group, collectively known as the Big Three or MBB, use problem-solving systems when serving their clients. These are comprised of the following steps:
Step 1: Defining the problem
Step 2: Deciding on the approach to take
Step 3: Collecting and analyzing data
Step 4: Presenting recommendations
Step 5: Follow-up; check whether the recommendations were successful
Sometimes consultants think that creating and sharing a capabilities sheet is sufficient to draw in clients. While Kami recommends consultants create such a sheet for use as an internal overview of their capabilities for marketing or business development purposes, she doesn’t think it’s necessarily wise to share the sheet with prospective clients. “Whenever it's time for them to hire somebody like you, they won't remember you, they won't remember your capability sheet… [because] it's not really inspiring to action, it's just a list of things that are available.”
Even if clients are willing to buy a listed service right then and there, she feels that a capabilities sheet is still often counterproductive because it commoditizes consulting services. “When you hand it over to somebody they look at it and they think, ‘oh, can you do a little bit less of this for cheaper?’ or “can I get this for that?’ and…. starting to talk about what you can drop out, what you can give, and they start talking about price almost immediately.”
Contrast that with a system, which is “a bigger and better process for your clients to come start working with you, so that they feel comfortable with you so they feel like you have what it takes to get them [to their goals].”
Communicate a “Big Idea”
One of the best ways to help you stand out from the competition is by communicating a big idea. “A ‘Big Idea’ is really all about the marketing idea – there is the system that you have and then you have to market that system to your clients,” Kami explains.
Using Black Friday as an example, Kami explains that consultants can offer their system to clients in preparing for this important sales day. “I've seen [consultants] say, ‘hey, we can get you ready for the big sale seating for Black Friday,’” she says. “If you do that and you have a package – ‘here’s our Black Friday package’ – then you you can actually wrap that in a big idea, and the big idea might be something like ‘learn how to double your sales for Black Friday this year.’”
The beauty, Kami points out, is that you can market the same Big Idea in a different way every year, using the very system you already know works well, but tweaking the marketing of your system so clients stay interested. “The system doesn't change, the way that you deliver [it] doesn't necessarily change, but the way you wrap [it] would change.”
The third C is about value. Confer value by delivering consistent solutions that are based on real-world applications.
“You need to show the value that you have for your customer and those two [mentioned earlier] really help you get there. You have a system now, you have a big marketing idea that you can put together, but then once you get that client, you need to actually deliver,” Kami argues. “You need to have a delivery system or delivery method of what you're going to do.” Ultimately, “it’s really important that you do that because that value is why they pay you.” Clients are eager for solutions based on real-world application.
Kami recommends consultants offer a package deal. “That has a price on it, and that package deal says, ‘you have to follow all of these steps in order to get this result.’ And then guess what? They're not going to nickel and dime you for the money. They're either going to say they can afford it or they can't afford it.”
If prospective clients say they can’t afford you, Kami nevertheless encourages consultants not to downprice their services unnecessarily and not to sell themselves short, instead focusing on packaging their services in a different way to more strongly appeal to their target market.
To learn more, make sure to watch Kami’s entire livestream.