Pricing Creativity: A Guide to Profit Beyond the Billable Hour

Pricing Creativity, Blair Enns

Pricing Creativity, Rule #2: Offer Options

One of the biggest pricing mistakes that creative professionals make is to put a proposal in front of the client that contains only one option. In such a take-it-or-leave-it proposition there are only two outcomes, 50% of which are positive and 50% of which are negative.

If you resolve from hereon to always put three options in your proposals, you will increase the percentage of positive outcomes by half. That increase in odds, however, is not the main reason you should adhere to this rule of always offering options. There is something far more powerful going on here.

Presenting options changes the question you are asking the client from, “Does this proposal represent good value?” to a better question, “Which of these proposals is the best value?” The brain is wired to answer the second question. In fact, it is incapable of answering the first question without first asking the second. Allow me to demonstrate.

Look at the photo of the stick below and try to determine the length of the actual stick (not the photo). How long is it?

Wooden stick

I’ve put this image in front of hundreds of people and asked them to guess its length. I get responses from 2 inches to over 8 feet, but most people get the point of the exercise and answer, “It’s impossible to tell.” It’s impossible to discern the length of the stick because there is no context.

This exercise reveals a hidden-in-plain-sight truth: Human beings cannot subjectively perceive absolute values. You can only know the length of anything objectively by measuring it against something for which you do know the length, like a ruler or a running shoe or Saturn. To know its value you must make a comparison; there is no other way to know it.

This truth is so universal that it applies to all values, including weight, size, luminescence (brightness), temperature, and more. By removing the comparisons I can leave you uncertain about something’s value. By controlling the comparisons I can make you think light is heavy, black is white, and expensive is cheap.

Pricing Creativity, Blair Enns

Pricing Creativity is available to buy from Win Without Pitching. Blair’s spent a career coaching hundreds of creative firms on how they can improve their finances. He’s finally put that coaching into a book. And it’s great. Even if you’ve been setting your prices for a decade, there are different ways of doing things, and Blair covers a lot of ground here.

You can listen to Blair talk about the writing process and the book content on the 2Bob podcast with David C. Baker. His earlier book, The Win Without Pitching Manifesto, was featured previously. Also worth a read.

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