Start with Your Client, Not Your Product


Concepts based on Pricing Creativity: A Guide to Profit Beyond the Billable Hour by Blair Enns

The Failures of Starting with the Product

In many creative firms, they start by creating their main product - let’s use video production for example. They start with the statement that they produce this product: video. They will understand the cost of that video, and based on that will price the video. Once the pricing formula has been created, the creative firm will then find a client to sell that video. This leads us into the concept of “cost-based” pricing.

Cost-Based Pricing

Product → Cost → Price → Value → Client

Cost-Based Pricing focuses on time and materials or the deliverables to determine the price that firms present to a client. The problem with cost-based pricing and productizing a firm’s creative services is that not every client NEEDS a video. It begins to take on the vibe of the car salesmen or the door-to-door salesman where “Everyone needs my product! No matter who you are.” This simply is not the case.

Cost-Based Pricing focuses on
time and materials or the deliverables
to determine the price or a project.


Start with the Client

Sit down the client, try to understand their problem on a surface-level and then on the deepest of levels. (Read More: 3 Tips to an Effective Strategy Meeting) Better known as consultative selling, the Firm doesn't push their product and instead listens more to the Client’s real needs. For example, after consulting with the Client, the Firm finds out that they don't need a new video - they need a new landing page to collect leads. This realization never happens with firms who only want to push their product.

Value-Based Pricing

Client → Value → Price → Cost → Product

Start with the client, figure out the value the Firm can provide, settle on a price and then determine the cost and execution method. It's the exact opposite approach to cost-based pricing.

Blair states throughout his book that this method proves to bring in greater average revenue over a cost-based firm. He also admits that this method is harder to implement and takes more practice. In the end, embracing value-based pricing will lead to higher revenue and greater profits for creative firms.

For More Reading

Blair Enns Amazon Page -

Pricing Creativity: A Guide to Profit Beyond the Billable Hour -

The Futur - Blair Enns Interview -




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3 Tips to an Effective Strategy Meeting

The first meeting with a client is crucial. Making a good impression and setting the tone for the relationship should be priority. In the initial meetings, you’ll work with your client to develop a strategy and then a game plan.

Here are three tips for your next strategy meeting:


1. Ask “Why?” 5 Times

Many clients when you sit down with them have a great sense of the in’s and out’s of their business. Problems arise with clients and they will seek out a creative firm- perhaps it’s a marketing issue or positioning issue or an even deeper issue that the client can’t articulate. Usually, the client will seek out the creative firm that specializes in what they believe to be the solution.

“We need a new website!” (Google search for Web Design firm).

“We need a new landing page video!” (Google search for Video Production firm). 

For the sake of example, a client has recently booked an initial meeting with your firm and they present their problem. Then, they proceed to self-diagnose: “We aren’t attracting enough views to the website because it’s boring and we need YOU to make us a landing page video,” the Client says. What most firms will respond goes something like this: “Yes, I see what you mean. We too think a new video will do just the trick. Let’s start planning the video.”

Rather than letting the patient self-diagnose and tell you what prescription they’d like, instead, begin to ask the first “Why?” question. 

“Perhaps you’re right about a landing page video. Why do you believe a new landing page video will attract more views to your website?”

The Client answers with a very logical answer.

Ask “Why?” to that logical answer. Keep asking “Why?”

The more “Why?” questions you ask, the deeper the issue goes thus revealing the true nature of the problem. 

Learn to ask better questions that get to the heart of the real issue. Only from there, can you truly help your client.


2. Don’t Interrupt the Client

This second tip isn’t so much about manners but more so about what it reveals about how you feel about the client. When the client speaks, you listen. You continue to ask penetrating questions about their business, but after that, shut up and listen. 

Interrupting the client shows that

1) you’re not listening to what they have to say


2) that you lack patience.

In conversation, half of the time, we listen to the other person and the other half, we think about what we’re going to say next. Many of us only think about what we want to say next. When you’re speaking with the client, especially for the first time, you want to be the best listener possible. 

Interrupting the client shows that 1) you’re not listening to what they have to say and 2) that you lack patience. We are here to serve the client. Develop that serving mentality. We should be making the client feel listened to, appreciated, and understood. It is a rare occasion for business owners to feel this from another firm. 

Your client relationships should be associated with good feelings and a sense of appreciation. These good vibes will lead to your clients actually wanting to engage with your firm more and more- instead of avoiding you.


3. Remove Your Bias

We briefly mentioned bias in Tip #1 by letting the client self-diagnose themselves into your wheelhouse. As a filmmaker, yes video production is my specialty, but it’s unfair to force my preferences onto the client. 

The appropriate course of action is to honestly understand a client’s problem and try to help them solve it. If a client doesn’t truly need your services, then it’s more beneficial to your firm that you recommend the actual solution. Nothing can jeopardize your firm’s reputation more than taking on a client to give them the wrong solution. We are not vacuum salesmen. Everyone does not need a vacuum. This is what separates serving from selling. We are not selling the client anything. We are here to help them. 

Sometimes you have to say in the initial meeting that your firm may not be the best firm for this problem, but would be happy to give some recommendations.

Your clients will respect the fact that you haven’t take advantage of them, and this third tip will reward your firm many times over in reputation and client relations.


Written by Jordan P. Anderson

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Jordan P. Anderson is a cinematographer and content strategist based out of the Washington, D.C. area. Jordan takes on projects by first understanding a client’s business and their needs as a company. Knowing the core strategy, Jordan is able to produce effective and compelling video content to help solve the client’s pain points. In total, Jordan has worked on over 400 videos and campaigns aimed at solving his client’s problems.