How to Increase Your Prices by Capitalizing on Forgotten Intangible Value

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Many agencies and freelancers forget the importance of their intangible value.

Many freelancers and agencies make the mistake of assuming that their services are the only thing they bring to the table. That’s almost never true. They generally offer so much more intangible value than that. They just forget it. Here’s how capitalizing on your forgotten intangible value can help you increase your prices.

You’re worth more than you know.

Your ability to charge for your services and availability is often only limited by your sense of self. By viewing yourself in the eyes of your buyer, you can discover the intangible value you’re giving away.

By investing some time, you can make intangible value visible, marketable and priceable. This is possible since your pricing power is often determined by the clients’ total impression of your worth. In that calculation, your services and your other forms of value, contribute.

Here are nine common forms of intangible value that agencies and freelancers provide, often totally unaware. By capitalizing on it, you can put yourself a notch (or more) higher on the pay scale.

1. Bringing Specialist Knowledge or Expertise

By having the role you have, you naturally possess a unique set of skills. That makes you immediately valuable. You have knowledge that others miss. For someone in need of that knowledge, a conversation with you is inherently valuable.

Not all clients are aware of this. Some take your skills and feedback for granted and do not understand when you’re bringing intangible value. These are the clients you better avoid. Wise (and desirable) clients know good advice when they hear it. They will pay you for sharing your expertise.

How to Capitalize on It

  • Be aware of the intangible value you bring and change the way you talk about your services. Present an opportunity to pick your brains as valuable and rewarding.
  • One way of doing this is to add an offer to your website where you sell online consultations in bite-size chunks. Don’t write out the price, instead, add a form where you ask prospective clients for details. State that you’re busy (even if you’re not) and present possible time slots at least a few weeks ahead. With some programming, you can make these time slots automatically update without manual editing.

2. Possessing Unique Social Capital

You’re more than just yourself. Your company exists in an ecosystem in which everything is connected. Some connections are stronger and more valuable. If you invest in building those links they will become assets. Those are assets that your client get access to through your recommendations or events that you organize and invite them to.

How to Capitalize on It

  • Be clear to prospective clients that working with you gives them access to invitation-only events.
  • You can write about these events on your website. The more exclusive they appear, the more in demand they will be and further boost your pricing power.
  • Organize network, breakfast or lunch events (featuring an interesting speaker) for handpicked clients on a regular basis.
  • Design the invitation and the experience to feel exclusive and private.
  • Personally introduce people who you think could help each other.

3. Having a Strong Brand and Reputation

People will fight to work with a strong brand, just like they will shun one in poor repute. Your reputation rubs off. A well-managed and built brand will increase the attractiveness of working with you. Clients may even brag about being one of the select few whom you’ve chosen to work with.

How to Capitalize on It

  • Building a strong brand does indeed take much time. Still, you need to start somewhere.
  • Infusing a personality in your business and giving it a unique character is at the core of having a brand.
  • Finding a tone, theme, and set of principles which you can shape all your market communication to fit helps.
  • Featuring your clients on your blog or in a podcast is a way to create visibility for you both. It positions you and your brand as an authority in the field.

4. Owning Rare or Desired Proprietary Methods, Software or Technology Not Available to Others

Every business, even the smallest, has a “magic sauce” of sorts. For some companies, it could be much-vaunted technology or exclusive IP (intellectual property). Yet even small companies possess unique abilities that they have developed. It may be as simple as a documented process or a way of working. Many companies are unaware that their capabilities are unique and miss out on capitalizing on them.

How to Capitalize on It

  • Don’t assume everyone does what you do and that it’s not that rare.
  • Spell out on your website how you work and what your unique tools and methods are. State that you use them. You don’t need to be specific and “spill the sauce” to create an aura of mystery and craftsmanship around your business.
  • Share carefully selected parts of your “secret playbook” through your blog or conferences. Build a “myth” around your business.
  • Talk and write about the unique results you can achieve using your secret method or technology.

5. Having a Business Model That Lowers Buyer Risk

By innovating around your business model, you may find new ways to reduce buyer risk. Things that cut buyer risk include:

Prospective clients will notice when a company doesn’t operate like the rest and pay attention.

How to Capitalize on It

  • Communicate that you think about ways to reduce buyer risk.
  • Constantly look for ways to improve.
  • Share what you learn, ideally as a speaker at events frequented by your prospective buyers. Palatable headlines such as “5 Things We’ve Learned About Fixed Price Projects” tend to draw crowds, from other agencies as well as buyers.

6. Helping the Client Manage and Avoid Potential Future Risk

By helping clients think ahead, considerable trust can be earned. It may backfire if the client hasn’t been properly informed and educated. Still, I believe strongly in helping your clients make better decisions and reduce risk, even if it means referring them to someone else.

How to Capitalize on It

  • Don’t focus too much on your specific role or task. Make sure to bring your entire experience to bear on the client’s problems.
  • Show foresight in your advice and use strategic planning techniques.
  • Help the client make decisions short-term and long-term.
  • Write up and publish case stories where you show how you helped your clients plan and strategize.

7. Training and Educating the Buyer

This might sound counter-intuitive. Instinct tells us to hoard our knowledge and hand it out by the ounce to the highest bidder. That has been one of the reasons for guilds since time immemorial.

That might have worked for medieval stonemasons but the modern digital knowledge economy is different. In fact, training your client in some of the things you do may be a great step towards repositioning yourself and being able to provide even more valuable services than before.

How to Capitalize on It

  • Start by giving knowledge away on your website or blog. A Youtube channel is free and can be an easy way to share tips and advice.
  • Once you feel this is something you enjoy doing, organize workshops for clients in which you train them in some of the things you do. Customer journey map, for example, can be a lot of fun to do together. The client may also see another side of you and place a higher value on your advice.

8. Being Friendly, Helpful and Empathetic

Clients may claim they just switched supplier due to getting a lower price or needing new services. But in most cases, it’s a people problem. Suppliers, be it agencies or freelancers, that feel difficult won’t be around for long.

To avoid this, try putting yourself in your client’s shoes. Aim to reduce client time or effort. Work to boost client comfort, convenience, and peace of mind.

Figure out how you can make every interaction less taxing on the client. Some easy ones are:

  • Answer fast (if it’s a valued client) if only to say you’re working on it.
  • Be clear in your writing to avoid misunderstandings. Use short sentences. Present information in bullet points.
  • When you ask for directions, dust off the old crystal ball and try to predict their answer and act. They’ll be delighted to know you took action on your own accord. This only applies to non-detrimental things of course.

All of these small things say “I care” which leads to peace of mind for the client.

If you’re already doing some of this, keep doing it. Know that most aren’t like you.

How to Capitalize on It

  • Get client testimonials in which your client praises your can-do attitude and friendliness.
  • Write and talk about your way of working with clients.
  • Develop a manifesto or set of principles that you use internally and share publicly about your ideas about client interaction.

9. Help Your Client Become a Better Version of Themselves

There’s a time for listening and a time for talking. As a consultant, it’s important to be able to tell them apart. But when you do have a good idea, don’t keep it to yourself – at least not forever. Even if it may seem painfully obvious. What’s obvious to you isn’t necessarily so to the client.

It’s not about your role. Even if you’re hired as a freelance web designer, don’t let that limit you. Perhaps you see a way to improve their marketing if so share it. Not only will you be appreciated, but they will also see your value outside your (perhaps too narrow) role. That can be a starting point for repositioning yourself.

How to Capitalize on It

  • Pay attention to what your client mentions and make a list of suggestions.
  • Find the right time to present them.
  • Introduce your client to individuals who can offer a valuable perspective on their situation.

Conclusion: Discovering Your Intangible Value Can Be Rather Profitable

These are just some common forms of intangible value. Perhaps you provide yet another form of value which your clients recognize and cherish.

Trying to understand your intangible value and making the most of it can be a great way to increase your pricing power. That will let you raise your prices without losing clients.

Start by calling some of your clients today. Try using the scripts in this article and hear what they say. You might be surprised!


Author: Jakob Persson

Jakob is the founder and CEO of Zingsight, the company behind Bondsai. He's been involved with the web for over twenty years and has previously co-founded and grown a web agency from 4 to 70 people. Jakob holds degrees in media technology and cognitive science. He consults in product design and management, and business development. Jakob is an experienced skier and a learning scuba diver.