Because You’re Worth it. How To Charge More For Your Event Planning Services
Are you struggling to make ends meet or do you need to increase fees in your event planning business because you haven’t done so in years? If so, these tips can help you get it done successfully with little hesitation on behalf of your clients.
Securing clients is always the first challenge for an event planner who strikes out on his/her own but it doesn’t matter how many clients you have if your pricing is off. Pricing that is too low makes people question your talents and experience, while pricing too high may place your services out of reach for some.
Getting pricing right is essential because not only does it affect people’s views of your business but there are a limited amount of hours in the day and days in the year. If you’re exchanging your time for event payment, and not monetizing other opportunities like courseware or merchandising, you need to ensure you get your fees right.
If you need to increase your rates, here are some tips to get it done.
5 Tips to Negotiate Higher Fees for Event Planning
It can be a paralyzing thought when you realize it’s time to adjust your rates, particularly if you have a stable of consistent clients that you enjoy working with. But, most positions in the corporate world receive cost of living adjustments and you should too. If it’s been awhile since your last rate increase, or you realize you’re not covering your costs, you need to increase them and you need to do so confidently.
Know Your Ideal Client
You need to know who your ideal client is, what that person’s event budget looks like, and if they can afford your rate increases. If not, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. It just means you’re going to have to find a new ideal client demographic and market to that group instead. For instance, I have a marketing consultant friend whose business goal was that he wanted to increase his pay structure to a $4,000 a month retainer for each of his steady clients. But the problem was his clients were small business people who had a hard time justifying a few grand spend each month just for his tips and know-how (he didn’t handle implementation. He left that up to them. He just told them what to do and when.).
But he wanted to work with fewer clients for more money. So he shifted his demographic and decided to target commercial roofers instead. These were still small business people but at an average of $30,000 a job on the low end, a couple of thousand was nothing to them if he could move the marketing dial.
Rebrand and Change the Tone
The next thing you need to do if you’re increasing your fees is upgrade your branding. You can’t make your value proposition about price if you’re increasing above that of your competition. But if you’re simply keeping up with the rest, switch the conversation to value not price. Claiming to be the most affordable event planner will only create a situation where someone will come in and undermine your affordability. In today’s Internet world, there’s always someone available to work cheaper.
If you’re increasing prices to address a high-end clientele you may need to rebrand. Take a look at some high-end brands and notice how they describe themselves and their services. They often use refined language and fewer exclamation points. Copywriting and design for high-end services are a subtle courtship, not a loud frat party. Just watch a Mercedes or Jaguar commercial versus a car dealership that’s offering a “pull or drag” trade-in offer. A very different tone.
Understand Why You’re Worth More
Many self-employed people skip this step because there’s no one to justify the need for a raise to the way there is when you work for someone else. But don’t skip it. Knowing why you’re worth the increased fees will help you build confidence in selling the increase to your clients. In order to have an effective rate increase, you need to feel like you’re worth it. If you don’t, no client will believe it either. Know what you bring to event planning that others don’t. For instance, maybe you have a strong marketing background that makes you an ace on social media and search engine optimization. This sets you apart from your competition and since better marketing often means more attendees, which means more event revenue, you’re worth the additional expense.
Be Prepared to Say Goodbye
As in any relationship that is no longer meeting your needs, understand that when you ask for more, there may be clients who refuse to remain clients. And that’s okay. Say goodbye. If you don’t and decide to “grandfather” them in under old pricing, you’re sabotaging your own business success. For every client that you keep under the old pricing structure, that takes away room from a new client who would be willing to pay your fee increase.
You have a limited amount of hours and clients you can service. If they don’t believe you’re worth the fee increase, you may start believing them as well and when you do, it will be difficult to get others to see your worth.
Talk Client Budget Not Your Rate
You will usually come out better off if your potential client names their budget first. Even if this is a repeat client, ask them the budget for this event. If it’s lower than what you expected, walk away. Don’t accept underpaying gigs unless it’s a labor of love and you’re planning on writing off your time.
If they won’t give you a budget, listen for bits of information that may help you piece together a range in which you can pitch. If you’re forced to pitch first, pitch higher than what you would normally ask and then stop talking. If it’s an RFP, boldly submit your new pricing. If they don’t bite and award it to someone else, know you’re one step closer to landing a client that will recognize your worth.
It’s difficult to say goodbye to good clients but if they don’t see your value and that you’re worth more, you’re either not showing them the value or they’re the type who will never see it. Either way, you probably don’t want those organizations as clients.
These tips will help you create and “sell” your new rate but the most critical part of this is you. If you hold onto a nagging feeling that you’re not worth the increase, no client will agree to it and you may lose clients accordingly. But if you approach it confidently, knowing exactly what your ideal client pays, what the market holds, and what your skills are, clients will see your value and be willing to pay it or lose your expertise.
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