What Clients REALLY Want…
Clients want the impossible.
Always have. Always will.
And if you're in consulting or a similar advisor profession, the particular type of impossible they want is that paradoxical combination of “new and different” with “tried and tested”.
New and different = something their competitors aren't doing, so will give them a competitive edge.
Tried and tested = proven, so they won't be taking a risk by implementing it.
Of course, a moment's thought will tell you something can't really be both new and different AND tried and tested. But “wants” are driven by emotion and gut feel. Cold hard logic doesn't often get a look in.
Sometimes the impossible isn't so impossible.
Back when I started consulting in the early 90s it was actually relatively easy to give clients new and different and tried and tested.
Back then there was very little information sharing across businesses and sectors. So a proven and effective strategy for one business or sector would be completely new in a different one. The first business to implement it would have a significant advantage for some time because of the slow flow of information and ideas.
As a consultant, you would take your experience and ideas that you knew worked in one area and implement them for a client in a new one. You were the oil that lubricated the wheels of progress and you got paid handsomely for it. Your clients, in return, would get something new and different that gave them a competitive edge without the normal risks associated with innovation.
Today, however, it's not quite so easy.
Today, information about new strategies and tactics spreads almost instantly across the web. “Best practices” are a commodity: they're no longer the best-kept secrets of the few, they're open to the many.
If your only offer to your clients is to help them implement best practices and proven techniques then it's almost impossible to charge a premium. Clients will either find someone else to implement those ideas cheaper, or they'll try it themselves. It doesn't matter how great you are at implementing, clients will struggle to justify paying big money for something that – in theory – is public domain.
How can you charge a premium in these conditions?
Take those best practices, roll them together with your own experiences and ideas and create something unique that's proprietary to you.
It doesn't have to be completely “from the ground up” new. Just new enough. Those marginal differences can be worth a fortune to clients.
Look at something like Todd Herman's hugely successful “90 Day Year” program.
Are the tactics and concepts in it massively different from every other planning, productivity and midset system that's gone before?
But it's different enough for people to be willing to pay for that extra edge.
It's different enough that Todd can rightly claim you can't get it from anyone else.
It's different enough for people to believe it might work for them when other systems have failed.
Different enough makes a big difference.
And if you find you're struggling to charge a premium despite your expert knowledge and years of experience, then creating your own concept or big idea or distinctive point of view could be what makes the difference for you.