Price Justification & Why You Should Stop It

You’ve probably all seen the blog posts and Craigslist ads. You’ve maybe read along, nodding, and shared them with your Facebook friends. The “Why _______ Is Expensive” justification posts. Maybe you even wrote one for future clients to read.

Stop it. Price Justification & Why You Should Stop It

Seriously. Stop it!

Have you ever seen high end luxury brands explain to you why their product is expensive? Do you think they’d write a blog post detailing all the factors that went into pricing their goods? There’s a markup happening on luxury brands that has nothing at all to do with the cost of making the product itself. We’ll talk about that at the end of the post.

The most recent one I’ve read of these is a HUGE post that went up on kijiji (Canada’s answer to Craigslist) by a dayhome provider. It’s long, poorly written, and full of whining. Yep, I said it. These posts make the writer look like a whiner. Why?

You chose the profession you are in.

You chose to be a self employed service provider. No one has forced you to become a photographer, or a dayhome provider, or a graphic designer or a mobile massage therapist. You chose this. You chose it knowing that there are challenges unique to all professions, and you chose it knowing that running your own business is damn hard. If you didn’t know that, and you’re just figuring it out now, 6 months, a year, or five years into it,  you don’t get to blame your clients  and their lack of ‘understanding’ for that.

Everyone pays taxes.

Or at least they should. You are not alone in having to give a portion of your income to the government. If you have things set up correctly, you actually probably pay -less- in taxes due to the writeoffs you get for owning your own business. You probably get to write off things like a portion of your rent, mortgage, or electricity bill. You may be exempt from paying into certain programs. But ultimately, “I pay taxes!” is redundant. So do they.

Everyone has expenses.

Guess what? Your clients have mortgages and rent and car payments, too. You are not alone in this. This is being an adult.  They also have to buy things to use for their jobs – appropriate work attire, bus passes, cars and gas to get there, maybe even equipment depending on what they do.

Your clients probably work long hours, too.

And if they do, they probably don’t get the luxury of working from home. They don’t get to be there to greet their kids off the school bus or take an extended lunch hour with a friend because they want to. They commute, they do their work at their place of business, and then they commute on home.  Further, when you tell your clients about your many late nights, working tirelessly and missing out on weekends and date nights? You’re telling them you suck at time management and boundaries.

Everyone who works in a service based profession has had a run in crappy clients.

Nickel and diming, trash talking, asking for too much, expecting too much. We’ve all probably heard it all. Telling your potential future clients about them only makes you look like a jerk. One who attracts drama. You know who I don’t want to work with? Drama whores.

To put it really bluntly, your clients don’t care about these reasons for why your service is expensive. They don’t care about your expenses, and your long working hours. They shouldn’t have to. That’s your job. You picked it.

Pricing your business should consider all of the above factors, absolutely, but you also have to remember that there’s more to it than that. If you’re priced just to cover these things, you’re not making a profit. And you are in it for profit. Notice how people rarely mention that part? Most of us want to make enough money to do more than just make the ends meet. That’s okay!

And you know what? When you have to justify your prices based on this stuff, you’re missing out on the real reason a person should choose to pay your rates, whatever they are.

You’re worth it.

Working with you is an experience only YOU can provide and you are the best person for the job you do. No one else can do it the way you do. No one else brings your specific set of skills, experience and education to the table. Why don’t we talk more about that? Why is __________ expensive? Because it’s worth it!

Let’s circle back to high end brands. The markup that a high end brand places on their items has a bit to do with the way it’s made, or the cost of making it (as that is a part of the experience of owning something made by a high end brand). The markup is there because of the name on the item. You’re paying for the brand. And while there is a variety of opinions out there on that fact – you are a luxury high end brand unto yourself. People should pay a premium for working with you over a generic big box service provider who does the same thing.

If someone comes to you and balks at your prices, you don’t need to tell them why they are what they are. You simply need to remember that there is a service provider and price point for everyone, and there is a customer for everyone, too. Thank them for their interest, and offer to refer them to someone who will be a better fit.

And please, please, stop justifying your pricing. Own it. Confidence is sexy, even in this context.

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Photo Credit Peter Kaminski via Creative Commons

Stephanie Ostermann

I’m the sort of girl who you meet for coffee and end up pouring your entire heart out to. The friend you come to when you need someone to call it straight. No bullshit. No extras. Just truth.

I’m a communicator. That’s a PC way of saying I like to talk, but I also spend a lot of my time listening, and over the years, I’ve developed a sense for subtext – how one or two words can change your entire message, what people are really trying to say and how to weave the varied layers of your story into one cohesive brand message that your clients fall in love with.

When I'm not acting as editor in chief for Vivid & Brave, you can find me geeking out over words here.

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