Last week I received an email from a speaker that we’ll call “Ken” (obviously not his real name). After a few tips and quotes about public speaking, Ken had a very nice looking coupon. The coupon had attractive fonts, good use of color and even had a professionally taken picture of Ken. But the thing that caught my attention was the large text that read “all services 80% off.”
Ken’s services are a bit over-priced. He’s an okay speaker (his videos on Youtube are short, but some of his tips are useful) and has been helping people for years but his prices are through the roof. Last time I checked, he was charging $4000 for a full-day seminar on public speaking. I’m not sure what he actually includes in his program but he guarantees that each attendee will not only overcome their fear of public speaking but they’ll wow the socks off their audience at their next presentation. This experience is now only $800.
When I shared this with some friends, they all agreed that this was not a wise tactic. Most people who offer services spend a great deal of effort negotiating their prices. But by posting a coupon where you’re willing to accept a fraction of your advertised asking price indicates that the value of your services is substantially less than what you’re charging. After all, if your services were worth your price, why would you need to offer them at such a steep discount?
Plus, would a client that buys Ken’s services for $800 today be willing to pay $4000 once he decides to pull the coupon? Ken has fallen into a trap that many new speakers fall into. They’re told by their mentors to charge outrageous fees. For example, I met a woman at a Toastmasters conference a few months back that wanted to be a professional speaker. She told me that all the professional speakers she met told her that she should charge $3000 for a full-day program. I told her that it’s dishonest to tell a speaker that has never presented to a paying audience to ask for that amount — what company would dish out that much money for someone with no experience in training groups?
My advice to Ken and people in his situation is to simply lower your prices to a more reasonable level. Offering a 10% off coupon provides incentive for buyers to buy — offering an 80% off coupon makes the buyer wonder why you’re so desperate for business. You work hard to provide your services so make sure you’re priced at the right level. You’re better off starting on the low side and then increasing your price than starting high and having to slash your price by 80%.