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It’s not a guessing game

Posted by Deidre Rienzo on

Hi, I'm Deidre. In my posts, I talk about my voyage down the road of self-employment as a website copywriter, my achievements and roadblocks along the way, and what I’m learning as I go (with Marketing Mentor as my guide).

I'm good at wasting time. Really good at it. Unfortunately, wasting time doesn't get me closer to my monthly goal. So these days, I’m really trying to focus on using my time wisely. Throughout the day, I ask myself:

  • Am I making money during this time? 
  • Am I furthering my potential for getting new clients or making new relationships?
  • Or am I just wasting time?

One thing I’ve definitely realized is: Playing the numbers guessing game is pointless.

When you don’t get a “comfort range” from your clients in advance, and you go through the process of creating a detailed estimate or proposal, it’s effectively time in the waste bin. 

Here’s an example:

I recently spoke to a client about creating an email newsletter campaign. I asked her what her budget was, and she said she didn’t really know. Instead of pushing, (clients always have a number in their heads), I told her I’d get back to her. I needed some more time to think on my end about how much this project would actually cost.

I crunched some numbers and came up with a price range.

Instead of filling out a detailed estimate, I first presented the price range to my client.

I said, “How does this range feel for you? Is this within your budget?”

As it turns out, this number was higher than what she had in mind, and she presented me with that new number, which allowed me to create my estimate based on an actual number — instead of one I made up in my head.

Had I just gone ahead preparing the estimate based on the higher range I had come up with, it would have been time wasted since I would have had to do it again with the range that was more comfortable for my client.

Keep in mind, my estimates are only 1-2 pages. They take less than 30 minutes to complete. But if I’m doing an extra “guessing game proposal” for every client, say 10 times a month, then I’m wasting 5 hours of my time. I know many other creatives whose estimates are far lengthier and more time consuming. How much of their time is being wasted?

Instead of going ahead creating an estimate/proposal, I make a quick phone call to present a price range beforehand. It only takes five minutes.

Because what we are really working with – is not how much a project actually costs — but how much a client thinks a project should cost.

As creatives, our job is to pull out that number, and see if our work, and their “mind number” are somehow compatible. Yes, we can increase their “mind number” by demonstrating our value, but first, we need to know what it is.

I want nothing more than to work with my clients and prospects. And I’m incredibly flexible. I can usually find a way to fit into their range, whether it’s adjusting the specs, finding a way to lower my time-spent, or occasionally even lowering the rate.But I need to be “in the know” in order to be flexible. Here is what I say when discussing price to get my client’s comfort level:

  • Is there a number you have in mind for this project?
  • What is your comfort level with the price? How does $600-$800 feel for you?
  • What number is “too much”?
  • I’m flexible and would like to make this project work within your price range. By knowing your range, I can do that better.

If they can’t tell me their number during the initial chat, I give them some more time to think. I do the same if I need more time to think. Then, we reconvene before I write out a detailed estimate.

After all, it’s not a guessing game.

I saw a sneak preview of Ilise's new book, "The Creative Professional’s Guide to Money," and an entire third is dedicated to "How to talk about Money" with a chapter called "Talking Price." It won't be out til February but there will be lots of goodies to share as it gets closer.

How do you get their “mind number”?

  • More in: Marketing Plan Group Journal, Marketing Plan in Action, Posts by Deidre

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