How Your Clients Decide Value (And How You Can Create It)

If you pitch me a project, I’m going to look at it through a lot of different filters. I’ll think about convenience, timeline, trust, deliverables and estimated ROI.

I’ll weigh it out in my own peculiar-to-me way and decide the overall value to me in the moment.

Doesn’t mean I’m right

I might not understand how much your work can contribute to my business. Maybe you didn’t spell it out clearly, or maybe I’m just bad at making those calculations. Either way, value is my decision.

But that doesn’t mean you’re not part of the conversation.

Today’s Breakthrough Beat is about how your clients decide the value of your work. 

Then I’ll show you how to use that knowledge to increase the value you deliver.

What Your Client is Really Thinking About

There might be more, but let’s start with eight filters your clients use to decide value…

1. Deliverables 

This is the what’s-in-the-box? stuff.  What exactly am I getting and is that what I want?

Savvy clients will have a pretty good idea of that and may even come with a shopping list (more on that in another newsletter). Clients who are newer to business may look to you for guidance. Either way, the tangibles of what gets delivered are usually the starting point for judging value. 

2. Hand-Over Value

If I’m a client, I’m always thinking how much is it worth to me to get that work off my plate. That’s always a dollar value based on the time I get back. But there’s also a ‘relief value’ because I’m so damn grateful not to have to think about it or look at it again. The value of being in good hands is hard to measure.

3. Client Service

How well will I be looked after? For some clients, that’s a big deal. Others are happy with, ‘I’ll email you by end of week’. I’m the former. 

I’ll pay a premium to be very well looked after. It’s also how I ran my freelancing business. My clients always had Bat Phone access and could reach out at any time. I got a kick out of being that service provider and now I enjoy being that client. 

4. What’s My Lift?

What will I have to do? How much of my time is needed? What loose ends will I have to deal with on handover?

Those are big value questions, especially the last one. There’s no better way to blow being rehired than to hand over great work to a client who doesn’t know how to implement it. 

5. Trust

Every time your client hires you, there’s a triple risk. The first is whether your work will do the job. The second is whether you’re the real deal and can be trusted. The third is can they trust you not to damage their brand. 

That last one is important. Once you work with a brand, you rub off on it, and vice versa. I’m just not going to hire someone who has a testimonial on their site from a brand my target audience or I find objectionable.

Your clients need to trust that you won’t damage their business through association. That’s a sideways way of saying, sweep your social media.

6. Empathy

I want to know my service provider gets me and understands my problem. I don’t want to feel like I’m being shoehorned into their preferred solution. I want fit, not squeeze. 

7. Expertise

My freelancer needs to know how my niche works. They need to understand my audience.

That means they can speak my business language, that they get my business model and they understand where the money comes from. They should also have a good understanding of what works and doesn’t work in my niche. Their knowledge should surprise and impress me. 

You know, just like an expert. 

8. Fee-to-value Ratio

I want an attractive gap between how much they’re charging and how much I think the work is worth to my business. 

That needs to account for the risk I take buying their work (there’s always risk).

A $5k project I think is worth $10k is not as attractive as a $5k project I think is worth $20k. 

The further your fee is away from the perceived value, the more likely your client is to sign. 

Does that mean you should cut prices and compete on price? No. It means finding clients with more expensive problems. We’ll see how in future newsletters. 

These are the eight filters most clients will use to decide on the value of your work. And knowing them gives you a huge opportunity.

You might not be able to decide on the value of your work, but these filters will allow you to influence how that value decision is made. Now, for an interesting twist…

Increasing The Value of Your Work

The eight filters above are more than a list of how clients decide value. They’re your framework for creating value. We do that by reverse-engineering the list!

1. Your client wants specific deliverables. Run a discovery-call process that makes sure well-informed clients have what they want/need and advises less confident clients on the same. 

2. Make sure your clients know what you’ll take off their plate. Spell out what that means for them… ‘No more X…’

3. Explain the level of service to expect. This will help attract the right leads and filter out poor fits. Clients who like high-touch service love to know about the perks. Tell them. Then deliver.

4. Make it very clear what you’ll expect from your client during the project. Make that as light an ask as possible unless you’re running a done-with-you project. At the same time, make sure they feel fully empowered to oversee the work. 

5. Build trust at every opportunity. Logobars, testimonials, articles in trade magazines, case studies and results. Use them all.  And start delivering value before they sign. That’s always been part of my playbook. It’s a zero-risk way for future clients to love you early in the relationship. And from first contact, be super reliable. There are sooo many flakes out there and a lot of your clients will have been stung. 

6. Tell the client in your marketing who they are as you see them. Tell them about their problems in detail. Let them know that you fully see them, that you’re for them. 

7. Be a genuine expert. Put in the work and never shortcut this. Your clients will know if you’re faking and it’s pretty near impossible to come back from a reputation as a BS artist. But if you turn up as someone who took the time to earn the expert badge, you’ll be worth a lot to clients who happily pay a premium for that expertise.

8. There’s a bit of a sliding scale when it comes to setting the gap between your fee and how much the client thinks they’ll make back. If you’re low on expertise, only offer basic client support and don’t make working with you super convenient, you need to put an exceptional price on your work to be considered. 

But if you tick all the boxes, it’s easier to charge a higher fee. 

The thing to keep in mind is this…

The value you offer is not just measured in ROI. It’s also measured in the experience you offer and the risk in hiring you.

Understanding all the ways you can leverage value will allow you far more say in how much you can charge.

This was originally sent as an issue of my weekly newsletter, Breakthrough Beat.
Sign up and get articles like this in your inbox every week.

And so you know I can walk the walk…

Are you ready for clients who bring you interesting projects and higher fees? A bank balance that means you don’t have to worry about what happens in the next 12 months?  

Then know this…

Getting there isn’t luck. It’s the result of deliberate steps that follow well-proven paths to success.  

I know those steps and I know those paths, and I’m going to show you both, starting today.

As long as your business is client-based, your success – and the size of your bank account – is tied directly to the quality of clients you attract.

Hi, I’m Amy Posner…

  • I’ve coached hundreds of creative freelancers to success
  • I’ve built six businesses, all highly profitable
  • I’ve owned and run a micro and a full creative agency
  • As a freelancer, I’ve had multiple $200k+ years
  • My businesses have sailed through the worst economic shocks the last 30 years could throw at them

And now I’m going to share everything I know with you about building a resilient and rewarding business that delivers on the full promise of your talent.

LEarn more about working together  →

"Amy! Your newsletter is the only one I currently read from beginning to end every week"
— Brandy Wells

"Amy has a way of thinking and communicating that is vastly different from other marketers and business coaches. Her advice is practical, actionable, and doable. I receive dozens upon dozens of newsletters each week and Amy's is the only one I read every. single. time. I'm Frodo. Amy's Gandalf."
— Sandra Beatty