Back when I was getting my speaking business off the ground, I also made ends meet as a graphic designer. One day I was on the phone with a client, and I made a costly mistake.
Client: Could we try a different font on the site?
Me: Sure! *couple clicks* Refresh the page.
Client: Whoa, that’s amazing! *Does mental math. I’m paying him HOW MUCH, and he’s doing all this with a couple clicks?! That’s crazy! He’s robbing me! I need to make a million changes so I feel like I’m getting my money’s worth.
And the project dragged on for months.
Now, I accept 100% responsibility for my part in that dance! I did a poor job of managing expectations, setting up guidelines early on about acceptable number of revisions, etc. But, I do want to address the idea that “You can do this quickly, therefore you should charge me less for it.”
It’s a common mindset with people; especially people who trade their time for dollars. What they don’t realize yet, is it’s the very fact that it happens quickly that makes it so valuable!
You wouldn’t get on a plane and say,
“Because you’re getting me to New York in a couple hours, I should pay less than if I took this trip in a Greyhound!“
That’s absurd! The world is simple: you either spend time, or money. You can’t save both.
Nowadays I help my clients understand whether it’s for a performance, a consulting session, or training engagement, I charge a premium because of the fact that I can help them get the results they want FAST.
I might be on stage for only an hour, but I can connect with that audience in a way that nobody else can. People who see me speak literally can’t forget what they’ve seen me do, and that’s valuable to a company! I weave their message into my demonstrations and now the audience is fundamentally connected on an emotional level that nobody else in the world can help them feel, like I can.
“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.”
Think about a doctor performing surgery. He’s not getting paid thousands of dollars for the hour he’s in the operating room. He’s getting paid for the decade he spent learning how to get you healthy in an hour. That’s what Picasso was talking about. He could make a couple pen strokes and it’s worth $50,000 because he’s the person who dedicated his life to being PICASSO.
Wages vs. Value
What we’re really talking about is the difference between getting paid for doing something versus receiving fair compensation for the results you can provide for your client.
In your business, you absolutely have to focus on how valuable the results you help your clients get, and help them get there quickly that will help you charge what you’re worth. If, instead, you focus on what you’re doing (the actions you’re going to take), then you’re talking about trading time for dollars, and people want to get as many hours out of you as they can for your wages.