What’s more important: the perception of value provided by charging a premium for your services, regardless of whether or not that premium impedes your ability to offer those services? Or, more opportunities to provide your services in order to increase experience, expertise and awareness about what you have to offer, regardless of whether or not you have to give them away or provide them at less than a premium?
Another way to ask it is this: if you just want more “at bats” to fine tune your message, sharpen your delivery and practice new material does it make sense to cut your rate or even eliminate it for the opportunity to do so? Or, do you just work harder at sales and marketing to find the clients willing to pay list price for what you have on offer?
During my years in the Loyola Marymount University choruses, as mentioned in a recent post, I sang for an accomplished director named Paul Salamunovich. One of his more famous “Paul-isms” was an admonishment to “never give away what you can sell.” His reference point was that of a vocalist asked to do lots of solo gigs: weddings, funerals, special events and so on. Concerned that our tendency would be to undervalue what we had to offer instead of treating those opportunities like professional gigs that merited fair payment for services, he challenged us to hold a higher standard.
I remember being a “coach in training” who needed to accumulate coaching hours for practice and skill review. The guidance we were given was to, regardless of our inexperience, always charge something for the engagement; that the professional integrity of the work demanded some “skin in the game” on the part of the client even if it was a nominal amount.
I started my business just over a year ago because I have a message to share, one that I am increasingly clear about and increasingly determined to get in front of leaders who can put my ideas into practice. And, like all good hitters, like all good comedians, like all good performers, I need and want more “at bats” to test myself and test those ideas; to push for clarity, to refine my approach.
My goal for speaking engagements this year is 25. My stretch goal is 30. As of today I’m at 11, either delivered or scheduled. I know I can get to my stretch because my message is solid – many have called it inspiring – my energy is high and my heart is in the work (you can check out my Vimeo page for a pretty good assortment of clips and full length talks).
My answer to the question that started this post is this: for right now – in pursuit of the “at bats” I want and need – I am focused on quantity. Some will happen at full fare, some will happen for the value of exposure and most will land somewhere in between. There are many ways to calculate “payment.” I do trust that.
What’s left then is to get moving and to find a few good folks to help me get there.