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Digging Deeper - Understanding What's Really Going On

I was working with a copywriter the other day who mentioned he charged the same for re-working an article as he did for writing one from scratch. A small project, but for him, this type of work was the doorway to larger, ongoing engagements.

However, the reality for him was that it took the same amount of time and it didn’t make sense for him to continue losing money on the re-work projects so he’d started charging the same.

And he did the right thing. He looked at reality of the situation and made a business decision based off that reality rather than operating with blinders on.

The issue with his particular solution was that caused new problems - it set him apart from his competitors who were able to charge different, more competative rates and he’d started to lose business.

He was in a bit of lose-lose situation: lost business with it, lost money without it.

So what do you do?

Because this is not an uncommon situation.

The realities of what it costs you to deliver work can often not match what your customers are willing to pay, or what your competitors can charge.

Running projects at a loss is generally not an advisable strategy and yet unnecessarily turning away work and potential new clients doesn’t help your grow a business either (I say unnecessarily here because there are times when the best thing you can do for your business and your bottom line is turn certain clients away, but that’s a different story!)

The key is working out HOW you can deliver your work at a price point that’s competitive while still making your margin.

Sometimes we need to look deeper than just what’s happening on the surface.

We need to understand the conditions under which the problem occurs. What are the triggers? What are the themes?

We need to do some digging to find out what is really going on so you’re solving the REAL issue…

  • Does it happen every time?

  • Or is it mainly with certain clients or particular project types?

  • Are the expectations around the end outcome yours or the clients?

  • Do they actually NEED the level of work your are supplying (especially if they’re not paying for it)?

  • Or are you choosing to deliver more than what they requested? (this isn’t necessarily a bad thing when used strategically, but it’s important to understand the implications)

  • Are there times when the problem DOESN’T happen? In which case, what’s different about those situations compared to the others?

Is there a theme developing, certain scenarios where this issue specifically occurs?

If there are, what could you put in place to address THOSE issues and treat the underlying cause..?

I’ve done this type of analysis for every company I’ve worked with, and very rarely is there nothing you can do. Almost always there's a underlying set of circumstances that causes the issue - you just have to dig for it.

And there is always a solution for every problem.

With a bit of imagination (and usually some expectation management, updated documentation, or maybe just a bit of process improvement) you can resolve the underlying issues so that you can get back to charging the right price for both you and your client.


Is there a situation like this at your agency?

Is there a type of work where the cost just doesn't match the price?

What was your solution to that problem?

I'd love to hear from you about your experiences.

Leave a comment below and let me know...

Feel free to share as much detail as you'd like. You may find you're not the only one going though something similar at the moment.

Just remember: share your thoughts and ideas in the comments - Links to other posts, videos, etc. will be removed.

Thanks for reading and adding your thoughts to the conversation.


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