Are you worried that your creative products or designs are too expensive?

Are you not selling as much as you would like to because your clients tell you that you are too expensive?

These concerns are fairly common. Here are 8 ways to respond next time you hear a client say that you are too expensive …

Because YES it is up to YOU which response you use.

Response 1: Say nothing at all

There is no reason why you should feel the need to defend yourself.

So, don’t respond.

And stop thinking about it. And stop taking it personally either!

In fact, seasoned negotiators very often use this ‘stay quiet’ technique, as the other party (often less experienced) will feel uncomfortable with silence, and they start talking, hereby often lowering their negotiation power.

So next time: smile nicely but say nothing. They probably don’t know any better.

Response 2: Say in your most friendly & confident voice: ‘Yes, you are right’.

(Top tip: the success of this one all depends on your tone of voice!)

Your work is high quality, an original idea or design.

You have taken years to develop your skills, so yes: it is expensive.

And worth every penny!

It might be that your client might not (yet) understand the real value of your work, your skills, your materials.

So is it time that you start educating your potential clients of your worth? Instead of getting frustrated and talking yourself down?

Educating and reaching out to the right clients is part of your job if you want to create a successful creative business.

If they are buying a unique piece of craft of which there is only one in the world …

If you have spent many years improving your skills as a jeweller, ceramicist or illustrator …

If you are a highly skilled designer who has helped business clients become much more successful and confident because of your design skills …

If they are buying a future heirloom that has been lovingly created and which will be enjoyed for decades or even centuries to come …

In all of these cases you and your work are worth it!

Get into action: Show your value to your clients

How can you start to share with your audience & clients the value of your work, the creative processes and time involved? Get creative! Educating your ideal clients is often the crucial first step to getting better sales and commissions.

Get creative rather than defensive and frustrated!

  • Present yourself and your work in the best possible way. Use a professional photographer. Create a professional brand. Improve your website.
  • Share videos about what’s involved in your creative process on your website and on social media. Share your true passion and talent and the skill involved.
  • Write blog posts with detailed case studies to share your passion and customer care skills, as well as your creative skills and clever design solutions.
  • Present yourself in high-quality venues or online boutiques with your peers, where there can’t be any doubt that you are a very talented creative and where potential buyers are more likely to appreciate your work.
  • Let the world know that you are top class. Share your education and exhibitions on a CV, make a stockist list or event list available, show high-quality images of you at work.

If you communicate and present your work at the right level, consistently and professionally, then your potential clients will realise it’s worth it. It’s not necessarily about real value, but about perceived value.

What will you do to start educating your clients? Let us know in the comments box below.

Response 3: Ask your client: ‘What makes you say that?’

(And yes, once again … the success of being able to pull this one off all depends on the right tone of voice!)

Doing events and talking directly with potential clients is a great way to find out more about them, and to discover what motivates your clients but also what stops them from purchasing. Ask questions in an inquisitive (non-aggressive or frustrated!) way to let them open up to you. You can learn so much from this!

If you listen to their objections carefully then you can find out how potential clients perceive your work.

You can respond to potential misconceptions by answering their questions clearly or by making strategic changes in your positioning or presentation. Add a FAQ on your website, improve the quality of your website and images, talk about the creative process more in your product descriptions.

It might be that your potential client doesn’t know what it takes to run a successful creative business and what the true value is of your handmade products or design services, so this is a great opportunity to educate them.

Many people don’t know what’s involved in running a successful creative business or what it takes to bring a product successfully to the marketplace. They might never have thought about how their ceramic mugs or plates are produced, how long it takes to create that handwoven scarf of yours or that you have 15 years experience in designing websites for businesses that increase their sales by 25% on average. So you need to tell them!

Or it might be that your potential client really needs to think about their purchase. Because it is expensive and because they don’t purchase that often, they may need to discuss it with others or they like browsing and looking for nice things for their home. When we were refurbishing our attic a couple of years ago I spent many months looking and comparing for just the right sofa, paintings, and rugs for our space. Your clients are not trying to be difficult, it’s part of the process to make purchasing decisions, and asking questions is perfectly normal.

Sometimes the might be right that your work is too expensive …

But if a trade buyer or seasoned collector says that your work is too expensive, then take note because they know what something is worth!

It’s also very common for new designers and craftspeople to be too expensive to sell their work to trade. It’s very likely that you are slower than more seasoned creatives, and you might not be aware of price terminologies and calculations for trade. If you want to sell wholesale in the longer term, then you might need to focus first on selling to consumers, become more efficient and effective in your working methods over time, so that your prices become more competitive for retailers. Because if a retailer purchases your products then their markup will double or triple the retail price that the consumer will pay, and what you need to charge too. You need to be aware of the calculations trade buyers use to take this into account.

Response 4: Ask your client: ‘What’s your budget?’

If your client is commenting on the price then they are often already in a ‘buying mood’, or at least they are considering your work. And that is a good sign!

If they are looking to buy they will often have a budget in mind. If not, then they might (not yet) be ready to buy anyway. So asking for their budget is a great way to find out how serious they are at this stage about purchasing.

If they give you a budget you can explain what you could do within their budget. You could show them a similar product or commission at that price level. If you do this in some detail in writing in the form of a design brief and quote, then that sets very clear, and professional expectations from the start, and stops wasting your and your clients’ time.

Get into action: Find it difficult to talk about money with your clients?

Do you find it difficult to ask clients about their budget? You are not the only creative who finds that difficult.

Rather than asking them only about their budget, you can instead ask them various questions: What are they really looking for? What’s the style they are looking for? Is it for a special occasion? Who is it for? What’s their time frame? And then also: what’s their budget?

Wrapping up the financial question with other questions can be really useful. And it will help you to get rid of the time wasters!

Response 5: Ask yourself: ‘Has my client actually said that, or was that me thinking that?’

Very often (newish) designers and makers worry that they are too expensive. That they themselves would not be able to afford their own work.

But … you are not your own client!

Make sure that you are dealing with the facts and not with your own worries or insecurities about the value of your work.

Get into action: Stop under-valueing yourself!

Many creatives don’t charge enough for their work, and often find talking or thinking about money and selling hard.

You need to start working on that, as otherwise it will be an ongoing issue and it will be very hard to create a successful creative business. I love suggesting books that can help you with this:

  • I highly recommend this money mindset book by journalist Barbara Stanny called ‘Overcoming Underearning’, which is a very thought-provoking book about your thoughts around money and how they impact on your ability to ask for the right price. It’s one of my most recommended books.
  • Also check out the book Resilience by creative business coach Mark McGuinness, which deals with the challenges of being a professional creative.

Response 6: Ask yourself: ‘Is cost an ‘easy’ excuse?’

So your client has said that you are too expensive.

But is that actually true? Are you too expensive?

For many people who are buying something mentioning the cost is often the easiest way out if they don’t want it.

What they actually mean when they say you are too expensive is …

  • ‘Re-doing my website is a lot of hassle, maybe it can wait’,
  • ‘I can’t make my mind up, let’s wait till after Christmas’,
  • ‘Will my husband like this bright red necklace too?’,
  • ‘Maybe cousin John can do my photos cheaper’, …

So do dig a little deeper and don’t always believe their word for it!

They might have wanted to be kind to you, and used cost as an excuse, while frankly, they were never that interested in the first place …

The real reason wasn’t actually your price but they weren’t convinced yet that they needed it enough in their life.

Are you showing and talking to the right customers who really want what you create and sell, who can afford it and are happy to spend right now?

Response 7: Ask yourself: ‘Are you selling in the right place, to the right people?’

Pricing your products or services isn’t easy, because it often comes down to where you want to position yourself.

Pricing is relative – what might be perceived ‘expensive’ in one place, isn’t in another place (especially true online when you sell on marketplaces such as Etsy or online boutiques, but also at craft markets were people try to haggle more often than in shops or at craft fairs.)

So, if you are considered to be too expensive then do more research into where your peers are showing and selling, what their price levels are and start showing in places more suitable for your pricing and positioning.

Response 8: Tell yourself: ‘If your clients never tell you that you are too expensive, then you are probably too cheap.’

I got this advice a couple of years ago and realised it’s very true.

Be prepared for a little bit of negotiating, especially when dealing with trade buyers, as it’s part of the game. It’s nothing personal, it’s how some people do business.

And … start showing your work in places where people appreciate your creative work and talent! What is expensive in one place might not be elsewhere!

How do you (honestly!) respond when people tell you that your creative products or services are too expensive? What will you do (or stop doing!) next time a client thinks you are too expensive? We would love to hear from you in the comments box below.

One Response to “What to do if your client thinks you are too expensive? 8 ways to respond”

  1. […] Are you communicating the true value of your skills and talents to your clients and galleries? Are you presenting your work in the best possible way – online, at events, on social media? Have you lowered your price because the gallery asked you to, or did you do that because you were worried they wouldn’t buy from you? You might like to read here my popular post on what to do when clients think you are too expensive. […]

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