What it means to be the “costs more, but worth it” provider (read time 3.5 min)

To get a premium price for your services it’s important to be positioned as the “costs more, but worth it” provider. Your prospects need to see you as substantially different from your competitors. And not just different like you “dye your hair orange” different, different in a way that makes you uniquely qualified to solve their problems. Different in a way that’s valuable to them.

Here are some characteristics of firms that have positioned themselves as the “costs more, but worth it” provider.

Take a stand

Most “costs more, but worth it” providers have a unique perspective. They see their market differently from other providers.

That position may be unpopular or even offend some prospects, but those who are attracted are really attracted! I’m not talking about taking a stand on social issues as many brands have of late. I’m talking about having a unique point of view about your prospects, their industry, or how to do the work.

Apple is known for their “opinionated” design. They had the “courage” to remove the headphone jack from their phones (and the floppy disk and later the USB-A port from their computers). They have an opinion about how their customers should use their computers, and that opinion creates some tremendous critics and some rabid fanbois. It also positions them as the “costs more, but worth it” provider in their industry!

What do you see “everyone” in your industry doing that strikes you as nuts? What’s a controversial opinion that you have? What if you shouted it from the rooftop?

Show unique expertise, experience, knowledge, or ability

Firms that have dedicated themselves to a niche, and worked in that niche for many years, can often demonstrate that through some original research, published works, or other ways that make that knowledge and experience visible.

Challenger, Gray & Christmas is a Chicago outplacement firm (some say their CEO invented the outplacement industry) so they know their market. One of the ways that they demonstrate that is by publishing a monthly report tracking job cuts and employment conditions in the US market. This report garners them significant press exposure and positions themselves as a premium provider.

Deliver services in unexpected or innovative ways

Some firms embed their expertise into their service delivery process. These experienced firms who have spent a long time developing expertise have found a highly differentiated method of delivering their services. That differentiation can sometimes attract clients who see the same flaws in the current process that you see.

It can be difficult to defend this differentiation. If your method is truly successful, others will copy it soon enough, but for a time it can be a useful way to demonstrate your expertise.

The use of Agile project management was a way to differentiate in this way for a time, but as the practice spread further innovation is needed to maintain that point of difference.

The red velvet rope

Firms that can successfully demonstrate significant expertise and experience are normally in high demand and usually have a relatively full pipeline. As a result, the principles of the firm are generally somewhat inaccessible and hard to reach. This exclusivity is attractive to some buyers.

One warning about this, it can break both ways. Our current culture highly values authenticity, and if you try to create “fake” scarcity, it can backfire. Even Elon Musk is reachable on Twitter! If you have more work than you can execute on then, it’s legitimate to have a waiting list. But don’t create artificial scarcity to try to trigger this result — it will backfire!

If you want to become a “costs more, but worth it” provider you need to develop a unique point of view. Where do you see yourself in this process of transformation?” Hit reply and let me know.

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