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Alex Honey: Int Design
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Hi Tina

I feel like I understand your experience exactly. I’ve been to a lot of the places you describe, some times more than once.

In the hope of helping I’ll offer you the following …. from my experience.

First I think your primary error is in thinking that the clients with a massive WIIFM (whats in it for me) syndrome are behaving this way with you. In fact they are largely unhappy and unsatisfied with everything and everyone.

You’re just the person in the radar at the time and have fallen into the trap of taking on the job of trying to be the hero that makes them happy or satisfied.

I guess this is the place where I let you know that its never gonna happen.

Even if you bend over back wards so they cant possibly have anything to complain about they’ll never be really satisfied and you may as well forget any aspirations of them being grateful or a raving fan.

In fact, Ive had a few that were disappointed because nothing went wrong that they could then complain about or have a drama to talk about.

Remember that there are some people who aren’t happy until they aren’t happy.

In as far as the discount/value issues. My advice. Never discount. Ever. A discount alters the balance in a working relationship and not in a good way. From there, as you say its a slippery slope that never goes anywhere good…and your doing great work for no money and no love.

When the odd client asks me for a discount I usually laugh…yes literally. Its a great way to communicate that I find their idea laughable. Plus it subtley lets them know that an idea that they haven’t considered beyond their needs or wants has just ‘clunked’.

I also employ the tactic as you do and suggest what could be left out, letting them know that I think they’ll be disappointed with the result and that it will be more expensive to add those items on at a later date. That usually does the job of letting them know that I value what I offer so I’m not just going to do the agreed work for less. Im also prepared to walk away so there is no desperation for them to feed off either.

If they are really pushy and are directly asking for a me to cop a discount I simply let them know that I offer great value but haven’t added 10% on to take 10% off. Another one is or ask if they would like 10% less service for their discount?

I think you know that something underlying isn’t quite right. That’s a good thing – uncomfortable maybe – but good because in my view ultimately the issue you really have is a marketing one. These people are clearly not your ideal clients and from the sound of it they keep coming.

Perhaps its time to look at your marketing message. Maybe find someone to help you see if you can strengthen it in a way that increases the demand for what you do, proves your value and without a doubt, lets people know that you are going to solve their specific issue so that whatever the price is …its worth it. If you are able to do that then they have already made the buying decision before you give them the proposal.

A strong marketing plan will weed the wanna be’s out and leave you with open, willing, trusting clients to partner with in the process and ones who will automatically be raving fans because there is a match between what you do and who you are and what they want and who they are.

So no its not a naive dream to work with great clients who value your work, it wont happen over night …but it will happen (thanks Pantene)

I hope my ravings are of some help and solace in the meantime its just an art to be nice and nicely say no in the face of a discount demand.

Good luck and keep up the good work