Value-based pricing: 5 Steps for branding and design pros

As a business coach for creative business owners, I can honestly say most clients entering my practice aren’t charging enough. Not nearly enough. And I understand why.

I remember a pricing conversation in my days as an agent for independent creatives with a prospective client that I’m sure will sound familiar. The prospect was a large national brand looking for an estimate for tagline development. When I quoted the fee, the woman on the end of the phone practically fell off her chair. “But it’s just 3 words” she gasped.

Here’s three words for you:

coach for creatives

I rest my case.

If you’re a creative business owner or freelancer, I’m willing to bet you’ve had similar conversations. Am I right?

Here’s the good news: when you hone your services, message and marketing to meet the needs of your ideal clients (those would be the ones who recognize your value and pay what you’re worth), by default, you dissuade the non-ideal prospects from even contacting you.


If you’re ready to build a positioning, messaging, services, and pricing structure based upon the VALUE you deliver, not an hourly rate or word count, read on for 5 ways to communicate your value, command higher fees, and get paid what you’re worth.

1) Ditch the labels

If you’re a creative director, art director or graphic designer, it’s likely prospective clients (a) don’t know what that means or (b) they think they know what it means and project whatever version that is onto you.  Either way, you’re now in a position of having to change their mind (almost impossible), justify or persuade them to your way of thinking. The solution: ditch the label, and describe the problems you solve, who you solve them for, and the tangible results they get from working with you.

For example, instead of saying, “I’m a creative director”, try “I work with fashion brands to develop print, in-store and digital campaigns that resonate with their target customer, build brand awareness, and create a community of raving fans.  Better, right?

2) Know what your ideal clients struggle with and how you are the solution

Your job is to get inside the head of your prospect, figure out what’s keeping them up at night, and create services or products that make their problems disappear. Not sure what your prospects struggle with? Ask them! Once you know what their specific challenges are, communicate how you will solve their biggest challenges and what results they will get from working with you. People will pay for relief.

3) Share your process

While clients respond much more to messaging that speaks to their needs, than hearing all about you and your process, there is a place for sharing how you’ll help them achieve the outcome they want.  Let’s stick with our creative director example; no client wants to feel like the chump who paid multiple six figures to someone who swans around being “creative”, but they’re not quite sure what they’re doing.  By clearly communicating what your client can expect throughout the process (be sure to make it about them, not you) you’ll help them feel much better about their investment.

4) Package and price your services to meet your ideal client’s needs

Clients are more likely to invest in you, if they see themselves and their challenges in your offerings. If your specialty is creating digital campaigns that build communities of raving fans, and you’ve learned that your ideal clients are struggling to build an online following, create a package that solves those exact problems. Not sure how to price your packages?  Unfortunately, it’s not a stock answer I can offer in one short paragraph, but your pricing should be within the top 10% of your peers.

Do you want to get clear on your pricing? Download my free guide: Pricing Creativity: Creative Business Pricing Guide for Freelancers and Small Agencies

5) Share social proof

Do you ask every client you work with for a testimonial?  If you don’t, start now!  Testimonials are a great way to offer social proof – meaning someone else, other than you saying you’re awesome.  You should definitely display these on your website, as well as on your LinkedIn profile.  Bonus tip: ask a prospect to go to the testimonial page of your website before speaking with them, so they have a clear idea of who you’ve worked with, and what they got out of the experience.

If these tips were helpful, I invite you to join me to take a deeper dive into a value-based business proposition. Sign up for my FREE online workshop, 3 Steps to Build a More Profitable Creative Business in 2021, on March 2nd at 12pm EST. It’ll also be recorded in case you can’t attend live.

Save your spot here.

I can’t wait to see you there and share more!

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