How Not To Make Your Offerings (Or Your Price Tags) Look Like Commodities

By definition, a service that looks like everyone else’s in your space is not going to fetch the highest price.

Take executive coaching to large corporations for example—it’s a crowded space with little real differentiation.

Most large organizations that hire coaches do so from a specialized “reseller” of services. These resellers sign up legions of solo coaches who agree to follow their pricing (and process) and then hook them into what’s essentially a beauty contest—client execs needing a coach get a lengthy list of candidates and typically talk to a handful before making a choice.

Two things happen.

One: to get on the list, you have to agree to cut-rate pricing. Sure you don’t have to market yourself, but your “partner” is taking anywhere from 20%-200% of your fee right to their bottom line.

And two, you’ve officially become a commodity. Your price is exactly the same as every other coach your client is evaluating which means your opportunity to connect your price to the value you deliver is gone forever.

Your price (and positioning) is announcing that you’re interchangeable with dozens of competitors.

But if instead, you build yourself a niche that is very specific and value-driven—no one will be mistaking you for a commodity.

Take a look at these five coaches: which one would you most want to talk to if you’re a consumer products CIO in a Fortune 500 company?

“I coach executives.”

“I coach executives in Fortune 500 companies.”

“I coach technology executives in Fortune 500 companies.”

“I coach technology executives in consumer products Fortune 500 companies.”

“I coach the CIO in consumer products Fortune 500 companies.”

The last of course.

But even then, we’ve only identified the guardrails of your niche—we’re still too me-focused vs. identifying the transformations your clients care about.

Because the critical question is what value are you actually delivering?

Maybe you’re reducing time to market for big technology changes—what’s shaving off three months’ of time worth to your client’s bottom line?

Or you’re bringing a newly minted CIO the benefit of your experience so she can get her team operating smoothly—how much is retaining existing staff and delivering on mission-critical promises worth?

When you position yourself to have that discussion, your client will tell you what it’s worth.

And I can guarantee you won’t wind up in a beauty contest with a non-descript pile of competitors vying for commodity prices.

Instead, you’ll be on a very short, very expensive list.

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