My friend Cathy Berkowitz ran a risk-management consulting firm. She and her business partner would tour factories and recommend the steps needed to protect companies against potential calamities. Cathy soon discovered that the problem with her business concept wasn’t that her services weren’t needed, but that prevention is the most difficult thing to sell. Why? Because people weren’t willing to pay for risk protection before anything had actually happened. And then, after the storm had passed , the flood receded or the fire had been extinguished, it was too late for them to hire her. After all, there was no point in closing the barn door after all the horses ran out.
Because Cathy’s potential clients weren’t convinced they needed her services before disaster struck, they always wanted Cathy to discount her fees. And because Cathy understood the value of what she was providing, she refused to do so. The stalemates got so frequent that Cathy printed her doctrine on the back of her business cards in big, bold letters:
“If you don’t want to pay my fee, I’d rather go get a manicure.”
I’ve always had a similar philosophy (about my fee, not my fingernails). I believe that I should charge a proper fee for the work I do for companies who can afford my help. I see no point in discounting my time or my ideas because I’ve seen the profitable results that excellent messaging strategy, creative solutions, and brand development create.
But since my core purpose is always to solve problems and help others, I believe in providing my services to people who need what I can do for them but can’t pay the freight.
I was discussing this with my dad one day and he offered sage advice. “Always do pro bono work” he told me. “But make sure you’re deciding who you’re doing the free work for; don’t let your clients make that decision.”
To do this, I created my Fee or Free program. With it, I would charge full fees for my work to the companies and people who could afford it and benefit from it. And then I would happily help others for free when I thought it was the right thing to do.
I’ve tried to do the same with my written blogs, video blogs, and Marketing Minutes. I provide observations and recommendations at no cost with the hope that the information will help my readers and viewers, and the notoriety and virality will help me.
Richard Millard’s comment on last week’s blog confirmed this:
“Bruce, Once again, your wisdom is so refreshing. The continued stream of uninvited emails that I am receiving, from folks that I have never heard of, offering their assistance, (which is really an excuse to sell me something), is incredibly annoying.”
But now I have a damaging self-admission I feel honor bound to share. For the first time ever, I’m going to sell something on this blog. I’m getting ready to launch a series of MasterMinds and MasterClasses and I’m going to promote them here.
Why? Because since the Coronavirus Crisis has upended our lives, I’ve received lots of emails, texts, and phone calls from people who are worried about what they’ve lost and don’t know how to move forward. Who among us doesn’t feel uncertain?
I believe I can provide valuable assistance and certainty.
As always, my purpose is to help. And the proof is in my fee. Thanks to my Fee or Free philosophy I have never charged such a low fee for a program before. And that’s because we all need to work together to figure out what’s next. But there are also three reasons why charging something matters now. Time and time again throughout my life I’ve seen,
1. People gain much better results when they have skin in the game;
2. People’s interest follows their investment; and
3. I’ve worked really hard to put all this together.
Of course, I don’t want to simply talk at you, I want to have a conversation. And I want to know what you want and need to move forward. So I’ve created a questionnaire to be able to best structure these programs to meet your needs. And I would appreciate it if you would take a quick moment and answer a few questions. There’s no cost, there’s no obligation, and there’s absolutely no pressure. Just a simple way for me to listen to you and begin to understand where you’re coming from and where you want to go.
If you’d like to help, please click HERE. And if you’d like some help, let me know.