Episode Artwork for episode 9 - how to price your services

Do you feel your prices aren’t quite right?

You’ve followed the lead on what others’ in your industry are charging but you’re not getting the customers you want.

Getting the price right for your services can be the difference between being full of clients or watching the tumbleweed pass by as your competitors seem to be getting all the business.

The thing is with pricing, it’s not just about what you charge, it’s recognising who your ideal client is and what value your services add to their experience.

In this episode we’ll delve into these points, as well as the ethics around pricing and how to add value and work with people who otherwise wouldn’t be in a position to engage your services.

Are you ready to learn how to price your services so they’re irresistible to your ideal client? 

Episode Transcript

I’m Holly Christie, your host. I’m a website designer, business strategist and mentor. I have 2 website companies; This Demanding Life for businesses which want to grow with flow and Simply Sites for start-ups who are looking for a stellar website.

This week we’re looking at something a lot of small business owners find one of the hardest aspects of their business - pricing their services. We’re going to look at what factors to take into consideration and what not to do, even when others’ are out there doing it. Ready? Let’s get started!

Whatever industry you’re in, the prices across your industry are going to vary. There’s no, one set price or one set way to deliver services. Let’s look at the different factors that go into determining your pricing.

Your ideal client

The very first thing to consider is who is your ideal client, where are they coming from and how are they funding it? Ok, that’s 3 questions but we’re going to break them down.

If you’re in the service industry and you’ve got to the stage of promoting your services, the chances are that along the way, you’ve been advised to build an ideal client profile, or avatar. Some people will advise you go deep - give the person a name, consider where they shop, what their life looks like, and all other sorts of tiny details to get to know them and market to them. Other people will say, build the avatar but look at broader strokes.

For example I have 2 ideal clients - one type for This Demanding Life, another for Simply Sites. I have both of these avatars as broad strokes, rather than going to the minutiae. Let’s look at those broad strokes now:

This Demanding Life’s ideal client:

They’ve been in business for a couple of years at least, they’re entrepreneurs who either have a team, often of freelancers, or associates. They’re looking to have big growth in their business and they have a dedicated budget for marketing. These clients understand that online marketing is an investment and they’re wanting to deal with experts, people with a proven track record. As well as commissioning their website, they’ll also engage a copywriter, photographer and branding specialist. They’re not looking to leave anything to chance.

Moving on:

Simply Sites ideal client:

They’re a micro business of just 1 or 2 people. They’re either starting out with their first website or they’re moving on from a homemade website. In some cases, they may have been selling their products or services off social media accounts like Facebook or Instagram. They’re often running their marketing themselves and have a limited budget for a website. In most cases they’ll write their own copy and use personal photos, however some people will engage a photographer and copywriter. The budget for the website is often coming from their household income, rather than a business account.

If you haven’t got an ideal client profile right now, then I encourage you to create one. If you do have one already, then quickly revisit it and make sure everything still feels like it fits. You’ll only know how to get your marketing message out there, when you know who you’re sending it to. You’ll adjust your tone of voice and maybe even what you’re offering, according to who this profile is.

You may find, while doing this exercise, that your ideal client has shifted from who you originally were marketing to at the start of your business journey. It’s ok if and when this happens, it shows that your business has grown and shifted.

Value

As entrepreneurs it’s really important that we value our work, our time, our training, our skillset and that our prices reflect this. There are many ways to work out pricing and this podcast isn’t about giving you that formula as there are too many variables. For example, what your industry standard is, what your competitors are charging and, most importantly, what your clients have to spend. Otherwise you can charge whatever you like, but if your clients don’t have it, they don’t have it to give to you.

I’m all about holding your value, earning what you’re worth and not overdelivering and undercharging. It doesn’t make for good business boundaries or good business relationships. You’ll end up feeling frustrated because you’ll feel like you’re working for free and your accountant isn’t going to be very happy with you either.

So, definitely hold your value but think about what your ideal client has to spend and if they don’t have the money to work with your regular offers, there are a couple of ways that you could still have a profitable working relationship without it breaking their bank or you working for free.

Whilst we’re on the subject of value, look at it from your ideal client’s point of view - what’s the value they get from working with you? Is it worth (in their opinion, them giving up something else to afford it? - if the answer’s no, then you need to look at either your pricing or your ideal client).

If your ideal client can afford to work with you on paper, but are conscious of their cash flow then holding your prices and offering a payment plan can be a good way forward. This can be good financial planning for you, as you’ll know what you’re expecting to earn each month, and it can take the pressure off the client so they also feel more relaxed when working with you.

If your ideal client can’t afford you, do you need to go to a price point they can afford or do you need to change who you’re marketing to? This can be a tricky one and only you can decide what feels right for you. A lot of coaches will advice ‘hold your prices, charge your worth’ and I totally agree that people should be paid fairly. However if your clients can’t afford that then you can hold your prices all you like but 100% of nothing = nothing. Sometimes it can be better to have little income, than no income.

But before we make any decisions there are a few things to look at here: who you’re marketing to and what your price point is. For example, if you’re a career coach, working with women who are looking to change career and you’re charging £250 per hour then it’s going to be difficult to get a regular stream of income. Why? Well there’s the gender pay gap to begin with meaning women aren’t earning as much as men and typically don’t have as much disposable income because of it. Then there’s the likelihood that a high percentage of women will have had a career break to look after children or relatives and have had to play catch up with their careers or be sidelined due to their caring responsibilities. By the way, I’m not saying I agree with any of this at all, I’m just telling you that it happens. Back to our situation…. Often women who are looking to change career are doing so because they feel undervalued and underpaid and they don’t have a spare £250 per session, or thousands of pounds for a set of sessions, to help them on this journey.

The flip side of this situation is the career coach has trained hard, invested in their training and their practice and shouldn’t have to work for less than they feel they’re worth. A solution here could be a lower priced offering in the form of a course or a workshop which is delivered to more than one person. The upshot is the coach still gets paid plus they end up with more than one client from the same offering, which may turn into them choosing to work with the coach in their other services.

I’ve successfully worked this model in my own business. Remember at the beginning of this episode when I told you about the 2 different clients for This Demanding Life? Just over 2 years ago I realised that it was getting harder to appeal to my ideal clients - I had some great custom build customers whom I loved working with but there were a whole load of other people I wanted to work with but couldn’t afford to drop my prices for. I did a load of research and found that there was no-one who was offering a scaled down version of a custom build service for clients who were new to the market. You could go to Wix or SquareSpace or Shopify and use their tools to build a website. Or you could go to a developer who’d created a template, buy it and drop the content in yourself with just the minimum of instructions. The final offer was for a developer or designer to drop your content into an inflexible, mass produced template website. But there was no-one offering the hand holding and professional advice that new business owners so desperately need. 2 years ago I created Simply Sites to fill that gap. I prebuilt websites using a flexible framework and clients choose the site they want, they go onto get all the service a custom build client gets but at a lower price point because the website framework is pre-built. The result? 25 happy Simply Sites clients (and counting!) and 25 business owners I never would have met, had I not looked at how I could make my pricing work for clients, as well as me.

Whether you choose to stay at a higher price point, or are thinking of meeting your clients where they’re currently at, please do remember that it’s unethical to sell to people who can’t afford it. We all have a responsibility to each other and that’s particularly pertinent in the business world when times get tough. People can feel their back is against the wall and are putting all their faith into the next best thing being what saves their business. If they really can’t afford it, they need to find another way to get what they need.

Adding Value

Adding value is a great way to get clients to buy into your prices, particularly if your services are at the higher end of the scale. The business world is busy and the competition is fierce and adding value can help people to choose to work with you, rather than your competitors.

You can add value in all sorts of ways without having to invest a lot of time or money into making it work. Here are some examples:

  1. Have some pre-work ready for when people sign up. You could have an introduction video or a quiz or a workbook that allows them to prepare for their experience with you. For example, as a website designer I could send a document or series of videos asking clients about the look and feel of their website, what they think their copy should say and what they’ll value most in the design. This gets them thinking and prepared prior to our meeting, plus there would be information they didn’t know, such as what contributes to good SEO.
  1. If someone is investing in an online programme with you, you may like to send them a welcome gift with things that will support their learning. This could be a notepad and pen, essential oils for concentration, affirmation cards, or resources to support the course materials.
  1. For podcasters and newsletter owners you could offer to shout out about each person who signs ups business giving them some free advertising.
  1. You may also look at making a 1:1 offering into a group offering so you get paid but it’s at your client’s price point and they feel they get tonnes of value. For example I mentor small business owners on a 1:1 basis, I’m also working on a group mentoring offering for my Simply Siters where we have 4 people on a call and the mentoring is therefore a quarter of the cost. They also get great value from it because they meet other small business owners, they hear the advice they’re given and therefore they get the benefit of more than just my experience.

A couple of housekeeping points

Do make sure prices are available on your website and any linked terms of service are available (I like to put mine in the footer so people can always access them). Here’s a quick tip you might not know - people often wonder why web designers put things like privacy policies into the footer of a website. It’s because legally the privacy policy needs to be accessible on every page, putting it in the footer ensures it’s always there and makes it part of the design, rather than a random link in a page. If you have terms of service or website terms of use, pop them there too, it helps with transparency and means you’re completely compliant. Plus, when the market’s tough, as it is right now, you’ll find more people want to access your terms of service before they even go on a call with you or book your services. I’ve just had 2 clients who had fully read my terms of service from my footer and quoted them at me, in our initial booking call.

As a member of the Ethical Movement and the Good Business Charter, I’m of course going to say It’s important that you’re honest in your pricing and your transparency. Gone are the days of not displaying pricing in case it scares people off. Or of worrying about your competitors seeing your pricing and adjusting theirs accordingly. The most important thing is that your clients and potential clients can see your pricing and make an informed choice in whether they can afford to work with you. It also means that if they have seen your pricing and get in touch, they’ve already pre-qualified themselves as warm leads for working with you.

Do Not Value stack

Thankfully this seems to be a bit of dying practice and for good reason. What happens is a service provider like a coach will create a course they’re trying to sell. They then make up any old price and list it next to each of the services that make up the course. They then put a total figure of a ridiculously far fetched amount, then they cross that figure out and offer the course for roughly one tenth of the price. The aim is to get people thinking that they’re getting a massive amount of value and what they’re purchasing is of a much higher quality than something that was priced the same as their discounted price. If that’s not clear think of it like this: If my competitor offers a course at £2,000 as their full price and I offer you the same course but it’s discounted from £5,000 to £2,000, the same as my competitor’s price, the chances are you’re going to buy it from me because you think you’re going to get an additional £3,000 of resources or value, for free. When people value stack, they use this model but rather than compete against someone else, they’re slashing their made up prices so you think there’s so much value involved that you have to buy into the product or service. The most ludicrous version of this I’ve seen lately was someone and no, I’m not going to name and shame, who offers her course on a value stacked model saying that the value of the course is £44,000 but you can buy it TODAY, in this limited time offer, for £2,400 and you can even split the payment into 3 payments of £800. Needless to say, it’s completely immoral, don’t do this when pricing things for your clients and don’t buy into anyone who does value stacking as a pricing model. If you want to work with someone and they’re out of your price range, by all means ask them for a discount code, or a payment plan, but don’t believe the made up prices used in value stacking.

Let’s wrap up:

  • We’ve looked at building your ideal client & where their budget’s coming from.
  • That sometimes your ideal client might shift in your journey and that’s ok, it shows growth in your company and your clients.
  • I’ve talked about how a client will perceive the value of your services and how to pitch it to meet them where they’re at, as well as possible pricing solutions.
  • We’ve looked at different ways to add value to clients without it costing you extra time or money (in most cases, I know the welcome boxes won’t pay for themselves!)
  • We’ve learned that there’s no shame in talking about money and doing so shows good business practices, transparency and ethics.
  • We’ve also talked about the questionable practice of value stacking.

Hopefully this episode has given you some ideas of how to price your services, or revise your services and pricing in a tough market. If you’d like more support or guidance and are interested in working together you can book a free, no-obligation call with me to see if we’re a good fit, via my website: thisdemandinglife.com or you can skip straight to email and find me at: holly@thisdemandinglife.com. I’ve mentioned Simply Sites a few times in this episode - you can check them out at simplysites.co.uk.

In the meantime, that’s all for this week. Thank you so much for listening, it’s been wonderful to be in your ears! If you haven’t done so already I would be so grateful if you could please leave a rating and review from wherever you get your podcasts, it helps other people to find the show, particularly if you’re rating on Apple as each rating helps to push it up the ‘shows you might be interested in’ charts. I’d love to be able to share this free resource with as many small business owners as possible. Thank you so much and see you next week!

Feeling inspired

Would definitely recommend this podcast. Aimed at those small business owners, but for someone who has recently started a new role in my company, this definitely motivated me on this cold wet Monday morning to not be afraid of being vulnerable in the workplace and putting myself out there!

Can’t wait for the next episode

izagoo9067

Just listened to your first podcast episode and it’s absolutely brilliant! Good work Holly!

Mike Cottam

Small Business Growth

I love listening to each new episode of Holly’s podcast. It feels like she has read my mind and understands the challenges I find myself up against when running my business. Her advice and insights are fantastic and I’m looking forward to hearing her future episodes. This is a great resource for any small business owner trying to establish a successful business in the online (and/or offline) world.

Fay Wallis

Brilliant first episode!!

The first episode of “Your Business, Your Way” is a refreshing take on the entrepreneurial journey I needed to hear this morning . I felt reassured hearing Holly emphasise a crucial point: you don’t need to know everything to get started. This approach is a game-changer, especially for those new to the business world, breaking down the barriers of perfection and complete readiness that often hold us back.

What I loved about this first episode of the podcast is its blend of practical advice with an undercurrent of motivation. It reassured me that starting with what I know and learning as I go is not just okay, but a smart way to grow. The podcast feels like a supportive friend, nudging you to take those first steps while keeping the mood light and approachable.

For anyone at the crossroads of starting or scaling a business, this podcast could be the push you need. It’s a promising mix of insights, stories, and encouragement. I’m eager for the next episodes and recommend it to anyone looking to embark on a business venture in a way that’s true to them. It’s an exciting start, and I’m genuinely looking forward to where this podcast will take its listeners next.

wmbaggs

Really Refreshing

Looking forward to the next episode, I’m hooked already. Really easy to listen to and definitely strikes a chord with me. 

MrsH68

Small Business Growth

I’m so excited to have your podcast alongside me as I grow my business. Looking forward to taking action on your steps and learn from someone who knows what they are talking about. Thanks Holly – you’re a star!

LisaJaneYork