Your competitors sell services. Here's why you should sell value

Jan 17, 2019

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When a prospective client comes to you asking for a logo, a brochure, copywriting or any other service, they want a tangible or digital product, right? Wrong! That’s just the beginning. What they’re really asking for is something much deeper. Maybe it’s:

  • To come across as more professional, so that they can be taken seriously by potential clients, sponsors, or investors.

  • To entice potential customers to buy a product, or clients to use their services.

  • To attract new customers or clients so that they can increase their revenue.

  • To signal a change in company direction.

  • To appeal to a new demographic.

Whatever you’re providing, you’re not working at an assembly line or taking orders at a fast food joint. Be the expert by identifying the deeper needs of your clients and the results that they’re trying to achieve. Here’s how.

Understand their business

Do your research, and ask questions:

  • Who is your ideal client or customer? What job title do they hold? How old are they? What gender are they? Where do they hang out online? What are their interests?

  • How do you want people to feel when they interact with your brand? Safe and secure? Edgy? Niche?

  • Who are your competitors? Where are they beating you?

  • What is your budget or expectation of cost?

Remember, clients care about what your work will do for them. So when you provide an estimate or proposal, don’t just provide specs; explain the benefits of the work. And when you present your work later, circle back on how it relates to these goals.

Focus on quality, not quantity

Some clients favor commoditized services because they’re cheap, and offer unlimited options and revisions. But oftentimes these services don’t take time to understand the client's business, or their target audience. Also, when a client is making decisions based on personal preferences — not the best interests of their business — both sides lose.

Many times, clients have complained to me about the poor results, lost time and money, and miscommunication they experienced with commoditized services. This makes selling your services easier.

Provide better deliverables

Think about what you could provide as part of, or in addition to, your service that adds value for the client — and demonstrates a nuanced understanding of their needs:

  • If you’re a designer creating a logo, include a one- or two-page brand guide that lists the logo files and when to use them (for print, web, etc.).

  • If you’re a writer creating a tagline, search the USPTO's trademark database (Trademark Electronic Search System, or TESS) for what is already be out there.

  • If you’re a web designer, provide clients with an image-sourcing guide for their blog.

You’re worth it

Those are just a few examples of how you can add value to what you’re already offering (and charge more). Your service provides expertise, convenience time-savings, and true value. Now that is worth paying for.

Colleen Gratzer is principal of Gratzer Graphics LLC, providing branding, publications and websites to nonprofits since 2003. In April 2018, she started Creative Boost and created the Design Domination podcast to help emerging designers by sharing her insights based on 20+ years of graphic design expertise and 15 years of having a successful design business. Colleen has seen it all and knows the ins and outs of working for yourself—from 0 to quit-your-job level income. Visit for more information about the podcast and for helpful, actionable tips.