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Marketing Consulting Best Practices: Should You Lower Your Rate?

By Ken Chen

As a marketing consultant, you want to win business and get paid what you feel is fair. How you set your consulting pricing depends on many factors, and there’s no right or wrong way to do this. Recently, I was asked by a fellow consultant, “Should I lower my rate?”

Personally, I take things on a case-by-case basis. I’m not a person who believes in black and white lines. So, here’s what my advice to this consultant was: “Ask yourself, would lowering your rate make the work less enjoyable?”

In general, I try to go different routes to meet budgets. For example, I try to:

  • Reduce the number of hours
  • Shift hours to future quarters to help meet budget
  • Reduce the scope/number of projects
  • Create a team share — find someone who makes a lower hourly wage that you can train to do part of your job. As a combination, your rate will come in lower.

Then, I’d weigh this against what is in the pipeline:

  • If you can find another client project and they are willing to pay your full rate, don’t budge.
  • If there is not much in the pipeline, and you really want to continue to work, and the strategies above won’t work, then lowering is okay.

I have lowered my rate in the past, but rarely do it. Furthermore, I have only lowered it for people I really wanted to work with, and where I thought the work I was doing would help get more similar work in the future.

In most cases, you don’t want to undercharge. Depending on the client, they may not realize the value of your services before you start working with them. I usually find that once I start working on a job, rate no longer becomes an issue.

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About Ken Chen

Ken Chen is San Francisco-based online marketing consultant and owner of EM Marketing. EM Marketing specializes in marketing strategy, product launches, customer acquisition, and mobile & social marketing.

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