It is relatively common for every 20 or so proposals sent to turn up at least one recipient who replies “Well that’s great, but I really just wanted someone to ‘create buzz’, can you A) take out [essential proposal component] B) take out [business development component] C) charge less but do all of the work for me ‘for now’ D) [other random request that treats the social plus business consult as if it were a dollar menu]”? To me, that helps weed out customers who aren’t serious, but I see other consultants bending over backwards to price themselves low and make automated options for people and scratch my head.
First of all, this isn’t an automated business we’re in. It is true that some clients and their products or goals can lend themselves to some automation (see ReverbNation for musicians, or IndieGoGo for film, for examples). The reality comes into play that even those clients will eventually have to get their hands dirty and get involved with the people who are interested in their social efforts. If you are automated then you aren’t listening, you’re missing opportunities, and you aren’t growing like you could be.
Second, if you are a consultant and you don’t value your product (which is often yourself) or your knowledge enough to charge for it, why are you in business? If you aren’t comfortable charging a price and sticking to it, perhaps in the back of your mind you think what you offer has no value, and if you think that – so will your potential clients. Figure out what you know and what it is worth, and charge accordingly. Perhaps this post from Christopher Penn will help you get some pricing perspective.
Finally, as I mentioned yesterday, you can’t go social and introduce all of the shiny new toys and tools and strategies that compliment your business without making sure your business can support the interaction. That where the business development, web site and other aspects of what I offer come in – it goes way beyond social. You will need to make at least a few organizational changes to accommodate customer interest, because you can’t force the customer to interact in only one way any more. You may be there for sales or news updates only, but your customer may throw you a customer service curve ball – you need to be ready. Your web site and other media (print, TV, etc) presences need to be ready to be social too.
What this all means for the customer is an adjustment in thinking about how they do business and what kind of benefits this will have for you and your customer. Interestingly, this post is about only a fraction of what I offer. The social media and business development is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all of the cool things I get to do with clients, it just seems to be where a handful of folks get mentally stuck. What this means for the consultant is that you need to offer something you value, or no one else will value it either and you’ll be on this treadmill of rejection and price cutting until you throw in the towel or price yourself out of business – self doubt isn’t sustainable.