A week ago Thursday I was called by someone from Toastmasters, "We had a sudden cancellation in our program for the District Conference the day after tomorrow. Can you be our luncheon keynote speaker?" Now, it's Toastmasters so I know it's a freebie, but I took it. Why? Because it puts me in front of one of my target markets: speakers at the beginning of their speaking career.
One of my speaking colleagues who has twenty years experience and whose fee starts at $6k for a one hour presentation, told me an upcoming speech that involved out of town travel and an overnight stay would be a freebie. My friend said, "It's a key audience of people who hire speakers." Another friend is in Chicago right now doing a freebie for the same reason.
And finally, if that weren't evidence enough, a speaking acquaintance of mine, Jeanne Roberts, who within the past year was awarded the Golden Gavel given by Toastmasters International for Professional Speaking excellence (Toastmasters only awards one a year,) said she was in Las Vegas for a speaking engagement. She asked the driver, "So what is the best show in town?" And the cabby said, "Oh that's easy. Jay Leno."
Well, most people would have said, "Great, take me there." but Jeanne loves to chat with people and look for the story behind the story. Now let me ask you, in the US, is there any person who hasn't heard of Jay Leno? In her conversation with the cabby, Jeanne discovered that as famous and popular as Leno is, every year he did a special free show for all the cabbies.
Of course. Cabbies get asked all the time, "What's a good show." Leno, as famous and powerful as he is, was simply doing some self-marketing. No matter how big, how powerful or how successful you become, you can never stop selling nor stop marketing.
And you have to determine when it should be done for free and when it should be for a fee. You should also not be underselling yourself. (Occasionally you may oversell yourself, but that is the exception rather than the rule.)
I love Alan Weiss' suggestion to consultants who have to bid on projects and are afraid when they are asked the fee. He tells them, "Every day look in the mirror and practice saying, "The fee is $50,000." You can start doing the same. Whatever your current fee is, start practicing by looking in the mirror and saying, "The fee is..." And then quote 25%, 50%, 100% or more than what you are currently charging.
Here's an email from subscriber Melody Moore in response to "If It Was Easy Everyone Would Do It."
"I agree wholeheartedly with you, Cantu. I too discovered my markets - and my value - by researching my clients' needs and the market needs."
Cantu note: Now read Moore's next line carefully and take it to heart.
"Last week I did some research and discovered that I was worth three times what I'd been charging and raised my rates. It turns out there's a big enough need that I won't be losing business due to higher prices. Instead of creating figures with superstition and low self-worth, I discovered exactly what I could get for my money if I were a client and what the value of those services I was providing really was." - Mmmm Cantu says, "Enough said."