Don’t Let a Client Promise of More Business Tempt You to Lower Your Public Relations Consulting Fee

When determining your fee for a potential public relations or other type of consulting project, more than one prospective client is bound to tempt you to lower your rates by promising lots of future business.

My advice: Don’t be swayed into lowering your rates if a client — especially a prospective client — says he’ll make it up by giving you plenty of work in the long run.

I’ve taken such chances with a few clients and, for a variety of reasons, the immediate project was unrewarding and a steady stream of additional work never materialized.

Lowering your fees at any time is professionally perilous and definitely the wrong move when you’re first setting parameters and establishing a client-consultant relationship. Here’s why:

• You may never receive the amount of follow-on work you anticipated when discussing the initial project.

• Raising your rates in the future will be awkward.

• Clients who constantly haggle over price will wear you out because they can always find someone willing to charge less than you’ve proposed.

• Competing on price alone will shackle your company’s growth and make you resent low-paying assignments and clients. Don’t set yourself up to be poor, angry and sad all at the same time.

The entire fee-determining process — particularly for solo-practitioners — is based on a gumbo of ingredients including the economy, abundance of clients, projects in the pipeline, competition, your services, market niche, skill level, experience, reputation, self confidence, self-worth and more.

If you’re like me, you put quite a bit of thought into what to charge a client and why. And like many public relations professionals, there’s a good chance you over-think the issue and probably short-change yourself by not charging what your skills and the project are really worth.

If you question your rates, raise them. Trust your instincts to tell you when you’re right.

Many years ago when I first set out as a public relations and communications consultant, I met with representatives from one of the largest and most prestigious management consulting firms. I made a presentation focusing on how I’d publicize their new hospital technology practice, including their integrated info systems demo facility.

I remember how concerned I was with the rate I’d given them to do the job. When I didn’t win the assignment, I thought it was probably because my rate was too high.

In retrospect I realize I could have proposed a much higher rate similar to what they charged their own consulting clients. It wouldn’t have fazed them a bit. Actually, I bet a higher rate would have pumped up my professional image.

Charging low rates can harm your prestige in the eyes of clients who closely link higher fees with skill and professionalism.

In his book “What Should I Do With My Life” author Po Bronson profiles 50 business people. He shows how each made a critical decision that changed the way they earned a living and enabled each to reach their “true calling.”

Based on their accounts, Bronson arrived at this core strategy for achieving personal success: “The single most important step any individual can take is to mine the productive power inherent in enjoying what they do.”

Making a living by doing what you love is great. And getting paid what you want and deserve makes it even better.