Working with Voice over clients – Value meal or lower prices?

In my previous Mexican Flea Market post, I advocated setting your rates and remaining firm on them. I hate the haggle dance and try to avoid it whenever possible. But you need to understand that there are two kinds of clients:

  • Those who cannot afford your rates and want a lower price.
  • Those who can afford your rates, but want to make sure they’re getting a good value.

The first ones are fairly obvious. They can’t pay the rates you’ve given them. It’s up to you to decide to do business with them. Most of the time, no amount of encouraging or up-selling will do you any good. Chances are they have a boss who has set a price. Or their client is firm. Either way, you need to make hard choices. 

The other kind is the more difficult one to deal with, but could also end up being the most satisfied. How many times have you heard someone tell you that their spot is  “short and should only take a few minutes”. If you’ve done this for any amount of time, you’ve heard this excuse for not wanting to pay the going rate. These are the clients who need to have a value add. They need to know what they are going to get besides a file with your voice. Free pickups? Phone patch? royalty-free music? Better production value? most of the time, it’s simply a bit of education about what they’re getting. The extra value you add is up to you. 

Recently, I had an event occur in my life that required me to lower some family expenses. So I called up Comcast and said I’d like to lower my cable/Internet/Phone bill. I enjoy these services, but they were a luxury I didn’t need. When I called, they were very sympathetic. The nice lady said they were having a promotion where I could get Starz and Encore for free for 6 months. I was a little surprised. I was pretty clear that I wanted a lower price and she was trying to value add me. But she had it wrong. I didn’t want extra value for my money, I wanted to pay less for the service I already had. Finally, I got her to reduce the price of the service. But I was left with a weird taste in my mouth. I wanted to yell “Just give me the best price you can for the services I already have!” At that moment, I was a cost-oriented customer, not a value-oriented customer.

It’s important to understand the kind of client you’re dealing with. If you have a client who wants to pay a lower price and you’re telling them how great your phone patch is, you’re not going win the client over. And more importantly, you’re not understanding the needs of the client. And if the client’s price is too low, then show them the door, or refer them to another talent who will do it for that rate.

You may have some wiggle room in your rates and you know the services that add value. Make sure you know which one your client needs.


About Jeffrey Kafer

I am a Seattle-based voice over artist specializing in audiobooks, but also working in corporate narration and commercials. You can find me at View all posts by Jeffrey Kafer

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