Yesterday in A turning point for patient voices I said that the market for patient voices is maturing, leading to a need for two new initiatives:
- Mentoring new patient speakers … via my Speaker Academy blog series
- A new price policy for myself
I said today I’d present the pricing policy, but first I need to establish a foundation:
Prices must have integrity
I’m no student of formal pricing theory, but I do know this: Some list prices are real, and some are cheesy – fake prices that nobody actually pays:
- Some list prices are inflated so the real price can be advertised as “40% off!!”
- Some list prices are a starting point for negotiation (e.g. car sales)
Why do some marketers play these games? Because consumers tend to like thinking they got a discount. That’s fine with me, but it’s not my approach. I prefer to deliver value and charge accordingly. Prices must have integrity, and discounts must be based on rules that you actually enforce.
Why it matters
This isn’t just a vague abstraction; it has practical impact: if there’s no integrity in your pricing, three things can happen, none of which is good for your reputation or your business:
- You find yourself in whining contests: “But we realllly want you. Can’t you lower your price?”
- [Mostly in academia] You find yourself in what I call “honor-whining”: “It would be such an honor to hear your thoughts.”
- You can detect this because when you say no, they say it again louder. :-)
- But that’s misguided:
- For speakers who have a full time job, a conference is a field trip, so honor may indeed be motivating. That’s fine with me.
- But when you’re a patient who’s barely scraping by, honor doesn’t feed the kids; honor doesn’t pay the rent.
- If one client works hard to raise the funds you quoted, it dishonors their commitment when you give a lower price to someone else for no reason.
- In social movements this is easy to understand if you view your client as a committed partner in supporting your cause. It makes no sense to dishonor them, eh?
Whatever you choose – free, small price, big price, growing price – your price should be real. When different situations call for different prices, have rules, and stick to them.
Tomorrow I’ll publish rules that have evolved from my thinking this year.
Thanks to my mentors
My mentor on this, way back in the beginning, was Kent Bottles MD (@KentBottles), then at ICSI. He was the first person to ever offer me pay for a keynote – $2,000. The speech was a big success, and in later phone calls he advised me: “Word gets around – people talk.”
This has been reinforced this year by discussions with Executive Speaker’s Bureau, who has booked me for a series of talks at state hospital associations. They’re smart business people, and from my own experience in years of sales and marketing, we agree: If your price doesn’t have integrity, people lose respect, and they start gaming you.