Equipping You to Communicate Effectively
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I know I didnt start this question off. But i have really been helped by these anwsers. Thanks..........
Here are my thoughts on pro-bono work:
It has been my experience that in the long run it has the potential to hender a ministry by offering services (that would other wise cost) for free. Because... what happens the next time they need these services and you are not available and they haven't established a budget for it. In many cases the ministry may choose not to receive the services at all. Which in turn start to snowball and effects other things in the chain. (Im sure we all have stories)
It is human nature not to value that that cost you nothing. And ministries are no different. There are many ways to give back to the ministry but I feel that not charging has the potential doing more bad than good in the life of a ministry. I hope this doesn't make me sound greedy. But this is coming from 20yr. of working in ministry.
This has been a Godsend of a thread for me. I feel God has called me out of where I am now and to go into consulting and this was just so timely. So, I have another question for those of you out there that have been doing this awhile: what have you found to be the most effective way to get the word out and market yourself in this area? Especially in the beginning. I know word of mouth travels fast, but when you're just starting out, what do you suggest to get your business into the right ears?
Bubbab74 - Welcome aboard.
Effective marketing - in my neck of the woods - there isn't any, and it's been my experience that churches aren't interested in free, don't want to make any exchanges, and are apprehensive when it comes to fee based.
I've been in audio, sales, consulting, design/build, for over 20 years and still have a day job or two. Acoustical consulting on my own for 2-3 years and have only had 2 paying clients in that time.
Be consistent, keep educated, be consistent, keep educated, and when you say you're going to do something for x$$ in x-time, do it, or chew the big one.
Learn as much as you can about the products you're going to recommend. For instance (yes, I sell stuff too), I was on the phone with a manufacturer's rep firm discussing adding PreSonus and QSC to my lines. He mentioned that he's also are the Sennheiser rep and that Sennheiser is the 'standard' in wireless. Well, I let him know that for the majority of my contacts, and main sales of wireless systems were to traveling quartets, and that the supposed 'standard' in Sennheiser or Shure didn't cut the mustard when it came to bass singers that sing C1 or lower. Also that most Sennheiser capsules have a mid-hi presence peak to 'cut through' stage volumes (or whatever they're designed in there fore) and that I'd rather have a relatively flat mic that I can massage, rather than have to take out aggressive peaks that are built in.
Know your stuff, know the products, and understand why one works better for one situation than another.
Oh, and don't be afraid to say "I don't know" even in the presence of a client.
I see a problem in all these discussions in that "consulting" and "consultant" seem to be very general terms that can apply to a vast range of individuals, firms, services and situations, so vast that trying to identify just the common variations got too long for even one of my posts. This can significantly affect any discussion or comments, especially in regards to fees and trying to address "consulting" as a generality without any further definition is virtually useless, there is simply to great a range to what that might represent. It would probably help get more relevant responses if one is more specific about the situation involved.
I am rather disappointed with the idea of relating fees to anything other than the potential value the services represent to the clients. Relating fees solely to the desired income unfortunately seems to promote the concept that experience, expertise, training, education, capabilities and value to a project are irrelevant and the perception that it is all about how much you can charge and not what you bring to the project seems to be one of the things that gives consultants a bad reputation in general.
My personal experience is that most people with the necessary expertise and experience to act as qualified consultants already have a pretty good idea of the related costs and fees, that would seem to be one of the things you would learn while learning the other aspects of the job. Put bluntly, confirming a number is one thing, but if you plan to be a full-time consultant and don't have the experience and knowledge to have a good idea of what the services you plan to offer should cost then you might want to ask yourself if you actually have a sufficient understanding of what you plan to do and the experience and knowledge to effectively provide those services.
As far as marketing, I have found that for consultants it is mostly reputation and relationships. I've never had to actively market, 21 years in the industry and the reputation and relationships developed prior to going out on my own have provided enough work without any marketing efforts and several of my peers have very similar experiences. If you don't have that kind of background then it is usually a matter of getting to know the right people and proving your value, networking and relationships. And again, this also ties back into exactly what it is that you are doing and offering, a person providing consulting on general media ministry planning and growth or on branding and funding may have a very different client base and marketing approach than someone consulting on facility and systems design or on product application. And a consultant with no product relationships may have a different approach than one tied in to product sales that might be able to take advantage of some product marketing and contacts.
And there are ways to give back- But you cannot give back if you have not obtained anything. For instance, I make time to do "ministry" work for some of my better clients by showing up on a Sunday which they weren't expecting me. I will come in, observe, offer advice and even fix a few minor problems and then hang out with the crew after service and answer any of their questions. Technically I've donated $300 to $400 of my time and I was able to do so because I had already billed them for $3000-$4000 of my services. They paid a premium price for my supply which makes it possible for me to provide value-added service. When they called me for a last minute emergency, I was able to stop what I was doing and run over there and take care of it. That too is a value-added service that I can provide to a client that is profitable for me.
As far as fees go, I charge $50-$65 an hour (depending on the complexity of the job) with 2-hour minimum so that I know that I am not going to have my time wasted nor will I leave the client without anything less than $100. I never charge for an initial consultation. I often tell a potential client, "I'm not going to charge you anything right now because we're just talking about your situation. We will work out an agreement when you are ready for me to make a complete assessment."
And finally, some tidbits of advice:
1. Don't be afraid to tell your client "I don't know." Integrity goes a long way. Besides, you have the resources to find out anything you need to know so a client is appriciative when you are upfront and honest and willing to get the correct information for them.
2. Don't feel guilty or greedy about charging for your services. Of course you shouldn't hustle your clients with unnecessary services to get a few extra bucks but it's very easy to minimize the value of your services after they have been rendered. Keep in mind that they were more than willing to pay your price when they needed you so never forget that you led them out of the woods when they didn't know where to go.
3. Don't be afraid to lose business/clients as a result of your prices. Generally people will low-ball their prices just so they can break into the market. Unfortunately that does not work in the Church Media industry. If you make a sacrifice the first time, they will expect you to do it every time. It's ok to give them a price break every now and then but your client should always start out paying full price so they will have appriciation for the price breaks whenever they become available.
4. Never dwell on your mistakes. The client cares less about what you did wrong and more about what you are going to do to resolve it. I once edited a video for a church and forgot to take the bloopers and bad cuts off of the timeline. I delievered it and when it was played during the first morning service, it was very embarassing. When they called me, I apologized, fixed it and brought it prior to their midday service. The problem was fixed, the situation was resolved, and everyone forgot that anything went wrong that day.
5. Always operate with integrity. I know I said that in point #1 but if you operate in integrity in every area of what you do, they will be more apt to employ your services even when they might not be 100% happy with your prices or the result of your work. I currently have a former client who calls me up at least once or twice a month wanting something from me even though he feels like I completely wrecked his church after he didn't like the video installation that I did.
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