Putting Price in Perspective

Many designers have expressed to me their frustration with potential clients who say they want their services but are unwilling to pay for them. An observation I want to share with you: The problem might not be the price you are asking but rather how you ask.

Some of these clients have no idea what professional design services cost and truly don’t have the resources to hire you. These are not clients you want anyway, so forget about them. Others, though, do have the resources but are reluctant to meet your price. If this happens only once in a while, then probably it’s an indication that there’s not a good fit between you and the client. If it happens frequently, you need to revisit your pricing and how you are presenting it to the client.

Don’t assume your price is too high. Cost is not the only factor that goes into pricing. Start by analyzing your value equation. Clients are willing to pay if they feel confident they are getting value for their dollar. Are you setting your prices to match your competition or to meet the requirements of your clients – what they need, what they want and what they hope to avoid? Each is part of the value equation.

Does your pricing reflect what has value for the client? You’re not just selling design. What else matters most to your clients:  purchasing? project management? meeting a deadline or milestone event? prestige? efficiency?  The answer won’t be the same for every client. In presenting your pricing, emphasize the things that the client most cares about and how you will deliver value in each of those areas.

Finally, the facts and figures are important, but don’t underestimate the client’s emotional investment in the project.  Reassure the client that their hopes will be realized and their fears abated. The most important factor in your value equation is trust.  Without it, nothing else you have to offer matters.


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