My service has become a commodity. How do I charge more?

Dear Aunty B, 

Today is my 40th birthday (I run a design business) and guess what a potential client just told me at a pitch? That my industry had become another “commodity” and my prices were far too high. Nice ehh??

I wanted to sock him but instead came back to my office and cried in the shower. I have made a very nice living from my design company for 15 years, and during the last few years have really had to fight to make any kind of decent return. I don’t know what the future holds for me and my staff.

Help Please,


Dear Help Please,

The design industry is going through a big change. While design is more important than ever, the internet means that it is now a global market. So if you are offering a service in a global marketplace that is chock-a-block with similar services, then I am afraid your client is right.

People will buy on price. There is only one way out. You must identify a niche market segment and come up with ideas that delight and satisfy that market.

To grow a business or maintain a profitable business, you must develop a competitive advantage. Your customers must understand and value the superior offering so much so that they will pay more for it. And of course, the superior offering must have a cost advantage so you make more profit.

Now before you go off and cry in the shower again, let me tell you there are all sorts of ways to offer superior value.

Set up a big strategy session and stack it with your staff and supporters. Have a look at all aspects of your business, the quality of the service itself, the degree of specialty in your chosen area and new technology. How can you specialise? How can you innovate?

You are right. The world has changed – and we are in the middle of a global recession.

Now go off and have a champagne. Happy Birthday!

Good luck,

Your Aunty B.

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