Should you benchmark your services?
Benchmarking is an important part of setting your prices. Looking at your competitors can give you a good guide as to what people are paying for the sort of service you offer. It can help you see if your prices are in the right ball park and see what you are likely to make.
But it's not the whole picture. Some industries are very cagey about pricing (why I don't know, as if you wanted to be a client, it would be obvious) so it can be hard to benchmark.
If there is intense price pressure in your industry, it can be hard to have higher prices, but it is still possible. But also make sure you are not too cheap, as the perception is that you are not very good or that you are new at it.
Personal brand and pricing
A key part of pricing is thinking about yourself as a personal brand. I found this really hard at the start of my business, as I'd worked for corporates for over 20 years. There it's never about you, but always about the brand you are representing, at whatever level, and you are a cog in that business' wheel.
Now I'm a personal brand, whether I like it or not. And my experience and knowledge are unique to me and no one else, which makes comparing me to someone else, even in the same industry or niche is much more difficult.
When it comes to new or existing clients, trust your gut instinct. Red flags almost never go away. Price either very highly (the Pain in the A** tax) or politely decline, but clients rarely become easier with time if they are a pain to start with.
Increase your prices for tricky clients to make it worth dealing with them, or say that you are at capacity or moving in a different direction. It's up to you who you deal with. And if you can't afford to lose them, start looking for a client or two to replace them.
Scope creep is where the project strays outside of the boundaries set in the initial agreement. Make sure when you quote for a project you are very clear (in lots of detail) what they are getting - not in terms of hours but in terms of results and output eg 3 social posts a week or better client retention or time saving. It might also include your working hours and availability for things like weekends.
It is up to you to make sure you point out to the client when they are overstepping the boundaries set. The client will (deliberately or otherwise) push the boundaries until you stop them.
Politely point out the thing they have asked you to do eg 5 social posts isn't in the agreement, so if they want you to do it, they will need to pay the extra for it. As a goodwill gesture you might do it once, but the client needs to know you have done that and that next time it will be chargeable.
More in this week's podcast
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The Pricing Queen podcast is produced by Decibelle Creative