How to Sell Brand Strategy

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I thought learning how to facilitate a brand strategy workshop was going to be the hardest part of my growth process, but I was wrong. Selling brand strategy to clients ended up being extremely difficult and quite a long process to wrap my head around.

I quickly ran into a few problems when I wanted to start offering brand strategy:

1. How do I offer and explain strategy to potential clients that came to me for a deliverable like a logo?
2. How do I find clients that actually want strategy first and see the value in it?
3. How do I separate being paid for design from being paid for strategy?

After I learned how to do brand strategy, I started implementing it as quickly as I could. Once I did 5 strategy sessions for free, I felt comfortable enough to start charging for it. Selling the first couple wasn’t too hard because I combined some minimal brand identity work with it. But as I started raising my prices, I realized I needed to change up how I went about selling strategy, especially if I wanted to sell it separately from any design work.

To reach the point where I could sell strategy for $5k and $10k on it’s own, I had to focus more on my client’s goal. Where did they want to go? What were they hoping to achieve? And less on the actual service.

I didn’t knock it out of the park on the first try. It took me trying and failing multiple times before I was able to find my stride. And I know I'll still be learning better ways to go about it.

I thought I had to use diagrams and visuals to win clients over to strategy. But Chris Do was right… if you ask the right questions, you don’t need a crutch like visuals. However, I do believe that I needed to go step by step like I did to finally get to where I’m at now.

So what questions do I use now? It’s a mixture of the Dan Sullivan 3 year question Blair Enns mentions in Pricing Creativity and Jonathan Stark’s “Why” Conversation, as follows:

3 year question:

“If we were having this discussion 3 years from today, and you were looking back over those 3 years, what has to have happened in your life both personally and professionally, for you to feel happy with your progress?”

This question focuses the client on their vision. One time I only asked this question and the client talked about their vision for 20 minutes and then said “I feel good about this. Let’s do it!” He had convinced himself into it because he was so into and excited about his vision.

If the client is focused on the goal, they will most likely be on board with anything that will get them to that goal—strategy included. 

The “Why” Conversation:

“Why this?”- Why can’t they keep what they have? Why can’t they go for a less expensive option?

“Why now?”- Why can’t they wait? Why invest in this now? How important is it if they don’t start now? What’s at risk if they wait?

“Why me?”- Why should they go with you when you’ll be the more expensive option? And yes, you actually say that. They need to be prepped that you’re not cheap.

These questions help the client see you as an expert instead of an order taker. These questions force the client to prove to you why they need this project done instead of you proving yourself to them. These questions also help you uncover if this is a high risk/high value project. If it’s not, then it’s not worth much nor very valuable to the client. So good luck charging a lot.

Lastly, I follow Jonathan Stark’s advice and ask how we’ll measure success. I really try and get metrics in terms of numbers so that we know what we're aiming at. That way, we'll all be on the same page and will know if the project was a success.

I hope this helps you a bit in selling strategy.

Melinda 

This post was originally sent to my Strategy Stories newsletter subscribers.


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About the author:

Melinda Livsey is a brand strategist, designer, and educator based in sunny Southern California. She’s the founder of Marks and Maker, co-founder of Pre-lance, and co-host on the Futur. Find her hanging out on Instagram and say hello!