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Topic: Strategy

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How To Charge For A Variable Consultation Project?

Posted by mdriden on 125 Points
I have experience in single consultation projects but I have been offered an opportunity to consult in various ways for one company. I will be consulting an owner of a small company comprised of 3 separate companies. I have been asked to consult in the following areas: Actual Sales training, Marketing locally, Improving company relations with the community, Website and social media marketing, and improving company image and that about does it. I see this being a long term relationship with the owner and have thought about a retainer fee based weekly or monthly then some of the other projects being on a per project on top of the retainer fee. I have done all these areas separately in the past but this is a first of all these areas in one job. Any suggestion of how to charge for this type of work is greatly appreciated.

  • Posted by peg on Accepted
    If this is the "starter" list there's a pretty good chance it will change and grow. My vote is for a retainer -- but take care to limit the number of hours you're available to this client each month if you have additional clients who need your attention.

    Rather than meter out the number hours you're available, you might cordon off some time that you're not -- such as "Not available on Mondays, and also Wednesdays after 2:00 p.m." This way, you give the client room to pay you more in the future when he wants more of your time.
  • Posted by Moriarty on Accepted
    Firstly I agree with Peg, because that is how I do things. Secondly, don't let them pressure you on price - you have valuable expertise that will change their business dramatically. Only it won't happen if they don't do anything. When they feel in control, most of them think the idea is great and put your ideas on the self.

    Peg alludes to this when she suggests restricting your availability. Don't let them pressure you to do lots of extras! My extra hours are also much more expensive to make them think about what they really want to achieve.

    One last thought: if your pricing doesn't make the client's hand quiver, you aren't charging enough. It takes real courage to do this, however it is the only way to get them to respect you.

    Oh, and if they start whingeing that they don't have that sort of money - take it as a very good sign that they are **not a good client**. If they really want help, they make sure they have the money - I see it time and time again. One such wouldn't pay me - and after a break-in raised 5000 for a security screen. It was what he wanted, so he got it.

    So look out for the signs that they don't want your services - because they won't want to follow your advice either.

    To your success,

    Moriarty xxx
  • Posted on Accepted
    Most people - and companies - tend to balk at retainer deals, the promise of so many hours of work in return for a fixed monthly fee. The fear is that they might not get or use all the time they're paying for.

    My suggestion is to quote on an individual project basis...assuming each project can be clearly defined.
  • Posted by Gary Bloomer on Accepted
  • Posted by mgoodman on Accepted
    I would absolutely avoid anything that looks like you're selling time. No hourly rates. No fixed number of hours/days for a monthly retainer. Pricing should reflect value for the client ... not your own efficiency or inefficiency.

    That probably leads to pricing everything a la carte, or a la carte with a guaranteed monthly minimum (to ensure that you are available on an ongoing basis).

    Selling your time focuses the client (and you) on putting in lots of hours/days and/or watching the clock. Not a great way to build trust for a long-term relationship.

    Better if you can focus yourself and the client on the VALUE you deliver and what a great deal the client is getting by paying for results that are valuable.
  • Posted by SteveByrneMarketing on Accepted
    I completely agree with mgoodman's advice. Avoid anything that smacks of "selling time", you are selling value to the client. It's a mindset thing and a very practical philosophy.

    As for the concept of being "available on an ongoing basis", you can treat that as a recurring billable project. You can invoice xxx dollars each month just for your availability, and still provide separate estimates for each project. In other words, the monthly "availability" charges are NOT a retainer, they are another value based cost in addition to individual project costs.

    Good clients will understand and respect this way of doing business, and we all want good clients.

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