How to Differentiate Your Consulting Services with Austin L. Church

August 1, 2022
The Recognized Authority Podcast Cover

The podcast that helps independent consultants & subject matter experts to get more clients without having to beg for referrals, or make soul-destroying cold calls!

The consulting marketplace is very crowded. Standing out from the crowd is essential if you want to avoid being lumped in with other providers, being seen as a commodity. But how can you differentiate when you are offering similar services?

In this episode, Austin L. Church and Alastair McDermott discuss how to position & package your offer in a different way so that you are differentiated from your competitors.

They also discuss the most effective way you can build trust with an audience, why you should use your clients’ language to frame the problem, and the correlation between your pricing and the clients that you attract.

Show Notes

Guest Bio

Austin L. Church splits his time between helping e-commerce founders create actionable brand strategy and helping committed, full-time freelancers use better leverage to get have more free time and fun.

Transcript

SUMMARY KEYWORDS
clients, people, positioning, offer, consultant, problem, framework, book, language, talk, listening, niching, proof, packaging, charge, helping, alastair, pricing, austin, outcome

SPEAKERS
Alastair McDermott, Voiceover, Austin L. Church

 

Austin L. Church  00:00

The problem that we’re up against right is, our clients often don’t have the domain expertise that we do and so will naturally just lump us in with other people. They don’t quickly and easily see differentiation even if we see it.

 

Voiceover  00:19

Welcome to The Recognized Authority, a podcast that helps specialized consultants and domain experts on your journey to become known as an authority in your field. So you can increase your reach, have more impact and work with great clients. Here’s your host, Alastair McDermott.

 

Alastair McDermott  00:36

Before we get into today’s episode, I just want to briefly let you know about a free email course that is available at TheRecognizedAuthority.com. It’s a free seven day email course on how to become a recognized authority. You can subscribe to that just by visiting TheRecognizedAuthority.com homepage.  So today, my guest is Austin L. Church. And I was introduced to Austin through Frank McClung, who’s a regular listener. So shout out to Frank, and thank you for suggesting that I talk to Austin because we had a chat a couple of weeks back, and it was great. I’m really looking forward to this to this interview.  So Austin splits his time between helping ecommerce founders create actionable brand strategy, and helping full time, committed full time freelancers to use better leverage to have more free time and fun. I really love that. So I’m going to dig into that second part, Austin, how do free full time freelancers use better leverage? What does that mean?

 

Austin L. Church  01:36

So I’ve really taken a fondness to this phrase, I think, because I come from a liberal arts background, where writers pride themselves on how hard they work on their writing. And to some degree, writing is non hackable, no matter how good you get at it, there’s still, you know, a discrete finite amount of hours that it takes to do the work well. And so I don’t think writers naturally go out looking for leverage. And I think about someone who has a boulder in the backyard needs a crowbar needs a fulcrum, like a little rock. And if you get the mechanical advantage from a simple tool like crowbar fulcrum, that combination, well, you get outsized returns for your effort. And like I said, I think a lot of us based on where we’ve come from, as we drift or strategically enter consulting land, we have a blind spot when it comes to, well, hey, just throwing more time throwing more effort at the problem probably isn’t the best solution. And so when I found this idea of levers and leverage, better leverage, I really latched on to it because I think I was able to sort of retro actively diagnose a lot of the mistakes that I had made, I always had good work ethic, that wasn’t it. But again, sometimes you just need a bigger, longer crowbar, sometimes you need an advantage that you didn’t have. And for you to get this advantage doesn’t mean even that you’re disadvantaging some someone else, it just means great, I’m getting better results with less effort. So I could we could go take that a bunch of different ways. But I think…

 

Alastair McDermott  03:30

Can you dig into what that actually looks like? Then what like, what does what it what’s a practical example of that kind of leverage that you’re talking about?

 

Austin L. Church  03:38

One I’d like to talk about a lot as a positioning cheat code. And I know you’ve had other guests onto the show that are obsessed with positioning. And I think as you get into freelancing or consulting, it’s hard to not get obsessed with positioning, but that positioning cheat code makes it easier to win the game. And once you find that nice niche, you have your specialization, communicating that clearly and succinctly, to make yourself the easy and obvious choice to your dream clients. Well, you’ve removed all of this friction from the buying process. And, you know, for them from the shopping process, the decision making process. And so positioning is one form of better leverage that is widely recognized. And once we start availing ourselves of it, we’re like, oh, it took me so long, right? Why was I a generalist for so long? So that’s, that’s one that comes to mind. I have a bunch of others we could talk about, but that’s one that I think is an easy entry point.

 

Alastair McDermott  04:43

Can I just ask you, when you when you say cheat code, do you mean that there’s something specific about how you use positioning, or is it just that positioning itself as the cheat code?

 

Austin L. Church  04:52

So I think the problem that we’re up against right is, our clients often don’t have the domain expertise that we do and so will naturally just lump us in with other people. They don’t quickly and easily see differentiation, even if we see it. So if I’ve been, I’ve been doing this almost 13 years now. And I really do, I really have accumulated a lot of expertise that no matter how smart, this person who’s only one year in, no matter how smart they are, no matter what kind of raw talent they have, they just haven’t accumulated all that expertise, it just takes a little bit of time. And so I see that differentiation. My client doesn’t necessarily see that differentiation, unless I make doubly sure that they see that differentiation. And so when I think about a cheat code, I make, like I said, I make the game easier on myself. But I also make it easier on the client, because if they’ve got to choose between consultant A and consultant, B, unfortunately, all other things looking equal, not being equal, but looking equal, they’re going to often just default to paying a lower price.  But there are a lot of value conscious clients out there that if you make the differentiation, consumer very conspicuous for them, will say, Oh, you know what, I really do want a first class experience, not a coach or domestic experience, I really do want to work with someone who’s been doing it 13 years. Because when, you know, he talks about process, or she talks about specific outcomes and transformations and has these case studies, right can bring in the proof, right? So that positioning, I think it’s often used interchangeably, kind of with differentiation. It’s a cheat code, because it just makes things easier for both parties. And now I kind of see it as a service to my clients, when I just make the decision making easier for them.

 

Alastair McDermott  07:12

Right now, I’m going to just go through because I know that you mentioned on your website, you have you have six key areas or six P’s that I’m just going to go through these unrelated for the audience. So you have positioning, packaging, pricing, pipeline, psychology and process. And you kind of use that as a framework for for teaching, I think. So I now I’m a huge fan of positioning anybody listening to this? This podcast knows that specialization niching down positioning is just something I talk a lot a lot a lot about, because I think it’s important. I think it’s probably the single most important thing you can do as a as a consultant as a as a subject matter expert who wants to build your own business. But let’s talk about the others. Let’s talk about packaging, what what are you talking about there? Is that does that help them help your clients to make better decisions as well? Is that Is that does that help them with that decision making process?

 

Austin L. Church  08:05

I think so. I mean, I think I’ll break it down in a couple of different ways. We tend to describe our skills, and then describe our services in a way that can be pretty matter of fact, and then, when we’re trying to spice it up a little bit, we normally just sort of pat ourselves on the back and talk about how impressive we are like, look at all my results, right? When the I think the better approach is to focus on the pain the client is in and not like you’re going to be, you know, have a lack of sympathy about it. But more just recognize that when people are looking to solve a problem, pursue an opportunity meet one of their own needs. They’re thinking about that they’re not thinking about this generic service that you offer, like business consulting, or growth strategy.  So, again, when you think about helping people make a decision and ultimately choose you, I really think it helps to differentiate between those open ended and rather generic services like business management, consulting or growth strategy and instead say, Okay, that’s a service like consulting as a service. The same way that hip replacement surgery is a service or food preparation as a service, but what people want is an offer tied to a desired outcome. So the offer is not a hip replacement surgery. It’s how would you like to go on a pain free hike with your grandkids anytime you want? The offer tied to fruit food preparation is romantic dinner for two on the beach, you know, emphasize the service, you emphasize the transformation or desired outcome.  And so I do think it gets easier for clients to make a confident decision and choose you if your offers are so dialed in, I call it a client diary are so dialed into their pains and their wants, that they feel like you’re reading their mind. And I actually know that my copywriting my, my sales copy is on point when my clients told me, okay, that was good. Like, it felt like you were reading my mind. And it felt like I was reading their minds because I put the focus on them, which I mean, we know this is sort of classic marketing, right? Like, you know, put the focus on the target audience their problems, their desires, right, but packaging as a whole offers, that becomes a benefit to the client. Because they can then say, Oh, wow, this provider, this consultant, really understands me really gets me they understand my pains and wants, but they also understand the transformation I’m after, and then they’ll give me a specific price for delivering that transformation. That’s, I think, just a much easier decision than comparing multiple consultants, all of whom offer business management consulting. So I think packaging just sort of as the category and then, you know, what I call juicy offers as a very tactical way to enhance or improve your packaging. Again, it’s just it’s a service to the client, that is a benefit to the client, because it makes their lives better and easier.

 

Alastair McDermott  11:42

Right. And when you’re when you’re talking about packaging there, what how does that present? Like? Is that in the form of productized services? Or is that in the form of, you know, just working on your positioning statement and your copy, as in, you know, how you how you describe the problem on your on your website, and, you know, anywhere else you talk about it?

 

Austin L. Church  12:01

Great question. There’s this really good to Bob’s episode, where Blair Enns, and David C. Baker talk about the difference between productized services, and customized services. So I would say that, for me, packaging encompasses both productized services, and customized services where you take a clear set of deliverables or outcomes. Ideally, you’re wrapping them up in a specific timeframe, you have a specific process specific price, specific benefits or promises. And so you’re not just offering this open ended service, you’re carving off a slice of that. So it’s very, very much customized or productized, then you combine that with strong copywriting. Right?  So even if you’re clear on exactly what you’re doing for the client, and why they need to hear it from you, in their language, not your domain expert language. And so, for me, the process of sales copy is often thinking back on Well, how did my clients describe the value that I created for them? Because they often describe it, very different language than I would use, right.  And so for a really funny example, they don’t say, you know, what, we really need actionable brands strategy. Well, actually, that’s not true. Some of them do. But more often than not, they’ll say, Gosh, our messaging is all over the place. Depending on who you talk to in the company, like you’re going to hear a very different story. So like the diffuse or scattered messaging, that’s the problem that they use to describe. So that’s what I would put in the sales copy. So packaging is yes, customized product and services, but then you’re communicating the value of that in a juicy offer. And then when I say juicy offer, I literally mean something that you can put in front of the client, pitch deck, web page. Some sort of write up I’ve used Google Docs a lot. I know that sounds so basic, but I’m like, Hey, here’s the offer someplace where they can go read about the transformation, and the price. And I think juicy offers have seven parts. My framework has seven parts and you know, bold promise, all the pieces are there, and they can then make a decision. So does that. Does that answer your question?

 

Alastair McDermott  14:38

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So I think you just touched on it there. So it’s anywhere. When you’re talking about packaging the offer, it’s anywhere that that a potential client might see it. So it’s on your website, it’s in your pitch deck. If that’s what you do. It might it might be in your email auto responder might be on your podcast page or in your podcast intro. So anywhere where that potential client basically starts to interact with you.

 

Austin L. Church  15:07

That’s an you brought up a really good point, which is like authors have two parts, right, the internal facing part, which is your own thinking about the best way to deliver something that you can deliver. And then the client or external facing part, which is more sales focused, how am I going to entice people to buy this? And, you know, get both dialed in, and really cool things can happen.

 

Alastair McDermott  15:33

Very cool. Okay. You mentioned there that you mentioned that, do you have seven pieces to that seven components kit? Can you just go through those quickly, just want to get get an idea of what you’re talking about there within that?

 

Austin L. Church  15:46

Sure, sure. And I’m hoping that I can remember, remember the pieces of my own framework on the fly, right. But the most important one for me, is bold promise. And that’s just where you’re talking about the transformation or outcome. I think too often we’re like a business management, consulting, growth, consulting, marketing, consulting, whatever. And we forget that know, what they actually want, is their most profitable quarter yet, or they want to see the close rate, the sales team’s close rate go up by 10 15%. Right.  So the bold promise is not, here’s what I can do for you. It’s, here’s what’s going to happen. And so that’s promise, that’s number one. And then process, right. And so that’s where you just you’re not, it’s not an exhaustive explanation, but more like the five or six key things that milestones, whatever key parts of your process, then you talk about risks.  And there’s a guy named Ahmad Munawar, who, he’s the one who introduced me to this, and I just want to give him a shout out, if you are the one who talks about the risks of doing nothing. Maybe the broader markets, or economic risks, Hey, you’re the marketplace is changing for you, you’d better adapt now, internal risks that they face, hey, if we do this project together, you’re likely to receive some pushback or fallout in these areas, hey, and then with the specific type of project, you know, for what I do with brand strategy. One risk is brand strategy by committee, where you have people who don’t really understand the process, who want to have really strong opinions, or you have stakeholders who come into the process at the very end and just blow up the work that a committed group of people have already done. But Ahmad Munawar was the one who was like, Listen, you want to reinforce your positioning, be the one who has the guts to say, here are the risks. This is what we’re up against. And it has been my experience that, that more than anything builds trust that and introducing people to new ideas and perspectives.  So promise process risks, price, it’s like the proof. And I have three different types of proof that I will bring in, there’s proof of path. And it doesn’t even have to be your success studies or success stories or case studies, it could be just what you’ve noticed in the industry, when companies like let’s say you were an EOS certified consultant, and you help companies get on the Eos system. You can use case studies of other companies who have gotten on this EOS program, even if they weren’t your clients. So you can use bring those into your offers to say, here’s what happens for people, when they go down this path. There’s proof of your capabilities, right? That’s where success stories come in that sort of thing. And I’m totally blanking on the third type of proof. I could tell you about it later.

 

Alastair McDermott  19:06

That could be in the media or some other kind of kind of social proof. I guess.

 

Austin L. Church  19:11

That’s right. I mean, like proof of capability, what is it? Oh, it’ll probably jump back into my mind later. But I just realized that when you layer in the different types of proof, almost like a parfait or like a layer cake. Typically people just kind of stuff in testimonials at the very end and maybe a link to a case study. And I just think offers as a whole are more effective when you let you know, sort of weave in or layer in the different types of proof along the way.  What else? Oh, key outcomes. I think that’s number seven. That’s the seventh part. And that’s just where you straight up mention. Here’s what we’re going to accomplish together. And then ideally, when you’re laying out the process, their pain points or their desires, you just have specific steps in your process that flip the pain point in into the opposite. And so if you lay out the key out, like if you have clarity around the key outcomes, it’s really easy to be build a process that is designed to deliver those key outcomes. And then the client sees it all right there and it builds trust and rapport.

 

Alastair McDermott  20:30

Yeah, absolutely. I’m big fan of, of, well, I’m big fan of the frameworks as a kind of, as a meta comments. I’m trying to use frameworks more and more and create my own frameworks and bring them in. I think this was drilled into people who did MBAs maybe, or worked in the kind of the traditional consulting firms. But for those of us who came a different path, I think that using frameworks and creating your own frameworks hasn’t been drilled into us to the same extent, I think it’s really important to do that. So I really, really love what you’re talking about from that perspective.

 

Austin L. Church  21:05

I was just gonna say, I agree, I’m sorry to interrupt, I really improvised shot from the hip quite a bit early on. And I think I actually told myself, that’s how I was delivering value that if I brought in too many tools, or templates or frameworks or whatever, then I was just trying to fit the client, you know, square peg into a round hole. Right. And I have revised that opinion, because now I just realized that if you have a really sturdy and trustworthy framework, why would you improvise? Just use that.

 

Alastair McDermott  21:44

Yeah. And I think it goes back to the thing about helping to make things easier for people. Because if you can explain it, even if there’s exceptions, and you can explain the exceptions, you know, there’s exceptions to everything. There’s always edge cases. But I think it does make it easier for people to understand and to work with you. So yeah, okay.  There’s one other thing that you mentioned, which is using the client’s language, and I just want to tell you about my own experience with that, I did a research project, where I surveyed a lot of consultants, I surveyed over 1000 consultants. And I did that in the form of a multi choice or a number of multi choice questions. So I think I had, in each survey, I think I had two multi choice questions, and then two paragraph style questions. And when I did that, that gave me some quantitative information that I could use in so, so I could have numbers a bit, the language that I got back was really useful to me. So when people filled in those paragraphs, they were giving me their own words, and the way that they talked about the problem. And the insight that I got from that was massive, it was just really, really useful. So that can be a great way. The other way is just talk to your clients on the phone and ask them if I can record the call. You can you can pitch it as an as a research call. I suggest to people, if you think that you might, at some point, write a book, then say, Hey, I’m doing a research call for a book. And what you might find is, is even if you didn’t really think think you were going to start out that way, sometimes you end up with enough to actually have the basis of a book when you finish. But I did 25-30 research interviews as well. And recorded those with permission and the the information and everything I got from that. There’s probably about four books worth of research and insights in that. And it’s just been hugely valuable. But but that’s a practical way to get that language that you were talking about, particularly at the start when you’re not so familiar with a niche, if you haven’t been working in a for for long. Or if you’re just starting out, and you don’t really know the language. That’s a really great way to start.

 

Austin L. Church  23:54

Such a great point. I mean, I had some really good mentors early on who now I realize are the people responsible for guiding me down the consultant path. But there is is one guy who helped me understand that people will always tell you what they want to buy, and how they want you to sell it to them. If you listen carefully, and my own insecurity, my own hypersensitivity to my lack of experience early on, caused me to just talk way too much. And I was missing the gold because if I had been listening carefully, they would have told me like, back in the day, I sold websites, right. And so I would be using words like mobile responsive or mobile friendly. And then they would say, we just want it to look good on phones. Well, later when I’m creating my proposal why on earth what I put in atomic design, mobile are friendly, mobile responsive, they don’t care how the sausage is made, they just want it to look good on phones, right?  So I’ve made a lot of mistakes early on with not using people’s own language to frame the problem, sell the solution, right. And now, I just take lots and lots of notes when I’m on a discovery call. And then the first thing that I do after the discovery call is just turn those notes into a call summary that I send to them. And I say, Is this accurate? That a leave out anything important? And part of that is just to keep the sales process moving along. But the other part of it is, when I do put together the proposal later on, I have the problem statement already written in their words. Right. So that value for just really attentive, listening, capturing their language, makes your proposals much, much stronger down the road. And one thing before we move on, I remembered the other type of proof. Can I share it?

 

Alastair McDermott  26:09

Oh, yeah, absolutely.

 

Austin L. Church  26:10

Okay, so there’s proof of process or path, I usually say path, here’s why you should go this direction. There’s proof of capability. Here’s why you should trust me as your guide. And then there’s proof of outcome. If you walk down this path with me as your guide, here’s the outcome. Here’s the transformation. And you layer all three of those into your offers. And it’s like, oh, that’s so much better than just having testimonials. I’ll often bring in quotes from industry leaders, who are just saying to anyone who will listen that you really ought to do this. Now, if you’re a SaaS company. Right? Don’t don’t trust me, you know, trust Alastair, because he is the SAS expert. Right? So we can move on. But I’m like, Ah, yes. Back in.

 

Alastair McDermott  27:04

Yeah. And, and as a podcast guy, I know what it’s like to have that. It’s like, I wish I hadn’t said that thing. So yeah. So okay, there’s one other thing that you mentioned there, and it’s it kind of it’s called back, it’s just about using their language. And this for me goes back to the specialization thing. And vertical specialization in particular, if you niche down to work with one industry, then they have a specific language in their industry. And when you start using their language and their industry language, they will sit up, and they will notice. And so a very simple example is, if you’re talking to doctors than the people they treat are called patients. If you talk to the customers in a shop than their customers, if you talk to the clients of b2b companies, they’re usually clients, if they’re tech SAS companies, then their users, and if you’re talking to people who stay in hotels than their guests, and so when you’re describing the customer, it’s such a generic word. But when you start talking in the specific language of the industry that you’re working with, as your clients, then they they will set up a notice and, and it goes far beyond just that one word. But that’s just one example. So I think it’s really important, particularly when you’re specialized like that is, is you get this huge advantage of speaking their language.

 

Austin L. Church  28:27

That’s so true. And that I do think that there’s room for salt and pepper, with industry jargon, because my like, brand strategy, we’ve got all of our own jargon. So as a rule of thumb, I use as little of it as possible, kind of, you know, too much salt in your in the dish, right. But I do think it’s important in proposals in conversation to sort of salt in salt and pepper in just enough of my insider baseball language, I will then define it, I will explain it I won’t leave them with their head spinning been like what is this guy talking about, but it’s kind of a flex. And so I think there’s, you know, it’s like maybe a 90-10 rule 90% of their language, and then 10% of your domain experts language, so that they, they kind of need to know who they’re dealing with to write that, like, you know, and it goes back to that it’s from the rain group Ra-A-I-N, they did this big study on sales winners, like why do people buy from consultant a and not consultant B, and the number one reason was new ideas and perspectives. So I actually consider like introducing a little bit of the jargon as a way to uplift elevate clients and also strengthen my positioning too, but yeah, 90-10.

 

Alastair McDermott  30:01

Yeah, I love it. I love it. Okay, I want to move on, because we’re going to just get get caught up. But I’m the thing I’m most interested in talking to you is about your thoughts about pricing. Because I know that every single person who I talked to, I think, I think I can say that, like 100%. It’s not 99.9. But 100% of people who I’ve talked to have, and probably should raise their rates, because they’re charging too little. That’s just my experience in working with a lot of consultants. And I just have never met anybody who probably shouldn’t raise the rates. So I’m just wondering, What’s your perspective on pricing?

 

Austin L. Church  30:39

It’s a very personal thing. I mean, we were talking about where we live before the show started. And there’s just a different cost of living in different parts of the world. But at a high level, pricing is positioning, and we often won’t get the clients we want. Until we have premium prices, that send the right signals. I think of it as Timex versus Rolex, people show more respect to a Rolex watch, because it’s really expensive, a Timex watch, you can buy for $30, almost anywhere. And even though they’re functionally the same, like in fact, the Timex with its quartz movement, may actually, you know, keep the time more accurately down to the split second, then this Rolex with an automatic movement, it’s all about the perception, it’s all about the optics.  So the one piece of advice I give people who are feeling squeamish about raising their prices is there is a correlation between the clients that you attract, and when and your prices. And if you want to change the perception of your expertise, you may need to raise your prices. I mean, what people will pay changes based on perceived value. Perceived value changes, based on perceived expertise. And so to come full circle, ironically, you want to raise your perceived expertise, raise your prices. So that’s, that’s it at a high level, and we could go a bunch of different directions with pricing. But I’ll stop there for now.

 

Alastair McDermott  32:29

It seems like, you know, it can’t it can’t be that simple, you know?

 

Austin L. Church  32:36

Right.

 

Alastair McDermott  32:36

What do you say to that?

 

Austin L. Church  32:38

Well, I say, We’re all on a journey. And I get it, because I believe that for a long time, I mean, when I first got started freelancing, I was charging $40 an hour and was thrilled, was thrilled to be making that because that represented almost 3x, of what I made per hour at my last salaried position. But I had a mentor, again, a lot of my success, I would attribute it to people who gave me good advice at the right time and cared enough to say, Stop doing that, start doing this. But there’s this local guy named Andrew Gordon, who said, Austin, you’re actually pretty good at this whole copywriting thing. But if you keep charging $40 an hour, you will not be taken seriously in larger markets, they will not think, oh, wow, he’s great, what a bargain. They’ll have this psychological barrier that they have to overcome, and you won’t even get a chance to pitch to them, because you will look cheap.  And so I understand all the mindset stuff that trips us up when we think about raising our rates. And I mean, the first time, every time that I sort of graduate up to the next level, in terms of what I charge, I’m nervous, like, I’m thinking, This isn’t going to work, the head, all that old head trash, I find it still, you know, lying in the corners. And so you kind of have to take out your head trash daily, because people show up at their level of level of investment. But in a very practical level, I think you should always feel great about making that amount of money for that amount of work. And once you feel great about that just tack on another 10%. Like you don’t have to double or triple your rates overnight. You can you can have these incremental gains. And you know, we gain confidence in doing not in thinking.  So if that 10% bump is all you can sort of that’s all the courage you can muster right now. That’s okay. Like, start there. And then once you’re at that next 10% you become comfortable with that and that To the new normal, then maybe another 5%, another 10%. And always, and I think this should go without saying, always deliver higher value commensurate with your higher prices. But yeah, it’s it’s a mental journey, a mindset journey, more than it is a journey in. Well, clients would never pay that, like, if other people are charging that, clearly people will pay that. And so one other thing, oftentimes, we think that our pricing problem is a pricing problem, but it’s really a marketing problem. You don’t have enough leads. People really won’t pay that. Fine. You’ve got to go start fishing in a different pond.

 

Alastair McDermott  35:47

Yeah, yeah. And there’s okay, there’s, there’s a couple of things to say about that. First is I saw a list on Forbes or something I was I was on Forbes or Inc, or one of those. And it was the top 10 reasons that startups fail, you know, for the last 10 years or so. And of the top 10 list, I went through them, and actually, all 10 where we got marketing wrong, just reworded in a slightly different way.

 

Austin L. Church  36:16

Wait, this is just one big reason. Yeah,

 

Alastair McDermott  36:19

Yeah, it’s just we, you know, we are positioning was wrong, we got our marketing wrong, effectively, you know, our product market fit, you know, so that goes back to positioning. So yeah, so but the thing about pricing that that really, I find fascinating is how much it is about mindset, and, and your own personal confidence. And I’ve heard the 2Bob’s the David C, Baker, Blair Enns. Podcast, I’ve heard them talking about how the single biggest indicator for them of whether an agency is going to be successful or not, is the confidence of the principal. And that that then seeps into their pricing that seeps into their sales pitch. And so I think a huge amount of this actually really does come back to what’s my, me as the as a consultant, what’s my own personal level of confidence in myself in what I do, and the value I can bring from my clients. Because when you then start to charge more, then you start to attract bigger, bigger clients, obviously. And because you’re because you’re dealing with bigger clients, then when they do go through the transformation that you that you help them with, they get bigger results, because they’re bigger than the smaller clients who used to help.  So if you like Jonathan Stark used the example of a mom and pop Pizza, pizza store, pizza shop, and then you’ve got like a pizza chain. And, you know, if you do something that helps both of those, increase their sales by 10%, then that could be worth millions to the chain. And it could be worth 10s of 1000s, to the single store, you know, and so, you know, that doesn’t change the value of what you did. But it’s just you’re able to charge much more to the larger client. So I think a huge amount of it is about our own personal confidence.

 

Austin L. Church  38:05

And I think this, I think we’re all aware of this, right, but like, we all have a relationship with money. And we think that we’re charging what we’re charging or not charging what we would like to charge for good reasons. But the deeper I have gone into, like our beliefs about money, the more I see these really strong connections with what we charge, what we charge, it really does have less to do with what the quote market will bear an often has more to do with these, these beliefs that are in our operating system. Most of them we pick up in childhood, aren’t even aware that we’re forming beliefs about money, and then we carry them into adulthood, don’t necessarily take the time and go through the process of putting those beliefs on the table and figuring out are they actually true like, and I’ll just touch on one because I know we’re coming up against time, but you’re probably not going to be excited to charge more, if you believe that for you to get ahead necessarily means someone else must fall behind.  And so there are a lot of consultants and freelancers who have high integrity, high empathy deeply care about others, but don’t realize they’re kind of running with this blue parachute behind them. And the blue parachute is this belief that it’s a zero sum game out there. It’s not a positive sum game, but a zero sum game. And if I were to suddenly raise my prices by 150%, well, someone’s gonna be left out in the cold and that’s just not true. And in fact, based you know, going back to what you just said, Alastair, if I charge this client more, chances are they are going to take the engagement more seriously, they will have deeper buy in, they they will have more follow through, they will get better results, they will see higher ROI, they will be better off, because they paid me more. And if they pay me more, now I’m in a better position to be generous to the causes the people, the communities that I care about, like in a very tactile way of just giving them money, right. But also like just being if I’m living in a place of abundance, then I can, you know, help other people with overflow of that. So that’s just one point, right?  It may be time to actually put your beliefs about money on the table and see if you can find counter examples. And if you can, you may realize I just need to upgrade my whole set of beliefs. And that is that parachute that’s been holding me back from charging more.

 

Alastair McDermott  41:10

Yeah, and there’s a great book about this called scarcity. Think it’s just called scarcity. I don’t know if there’s any more, there’s a subtitle, I’ll link it in the show notes anyway. But it just talks about you know that how that scarcity, mind mindset actually impacts the decisions that we make, and makes us make worse decisions. And it’s one of the things I talk about, when I’m talking to people about making a specialization decision when you’re niching down, I think that it’s dangerous, or impossible to actually make a good specialization decision, when you are in a place of scarcity. If you are, if you are concerned, if finances a concern, then you’re not going to make a good decision about niching down. Because you know, part of the whole thing about niching down is that you are cutting away and turning down at some opportunity. And so it makes that makes it quite difficult. Because your your your brain, your subconscious is actually holding you back in how you approach that. So I think that you have to get yourself into into a good financial position before you’re able to make a specialization decision.

 

Austin L. Church  42:14

That’s that’s a really good insight. And one I’m going to noodle on a bit more later. But it’s all this stuff is interconnected, which sometimes makes it hard to trace to the root problem. And I can just speak from personal experience. And you know, you hear yourself saying things it’s like, you know, well, we all know that money makes people greedy. And it’s like, no, greed makes people want money. But greed makes people want other things to theirs. You know, money is an amplifier, generous people become even more generous when they have more money, right? So you say those things like we all know that. And it’s like, no, like, that’s not actually true. And that may be holding your consulting practice back.

 

Alastair McDermott  43:04

Yeah. I love the fact that we’ve kind of wandered down this path talking about, you know, mindset and thinking and subconscious beliefs and you know, things like that. But we do have to pull it back because we’re, we’re coming up on time. So unfortunately, I got to, I’ve got three more questions gonna have to wrap. The one question I’d like to ask people about is about mistakes that they’ve made in business, business failures, things like that. Is there one in your business past that that you made? And can you tell us a bit about what you learned from that?

 

Austin L. Church  43:34

Personalizing failure and thinking that just because something was wrong must that must mean I did something wrong? And the principal for me has been depersonalizing failure. So like, a very real example, getting into debt and thinking, well, look at all these bad decisions I made and a lot of them were purely circumstantial, like the H fac unit and our house goes out. There’s three to 5k We weren’t planning on right. So depersonalize that outcome has been one of the single best principles to help me just have a higher tolerance for disappointment. I will say.

 

Alastair McDermott  44:18

Cool. Okay, that’s really interesting. What about business books or resources? Do you have a favorite business book?

 

Austin L. Church  44:26

Probably “Given and Take” by Adam Grant. And a really that book hit me at just the right to found me that book found me at just the right time because I was really struggling with this desire to be generous, while also struggling with having been taken advantage of a lot. And he more or less gave me a way or kind of a framework with in that book, to embrace generosity the way I want to while also not being a doormat.

 

Alastair McDermott  45:03

Yeah, yeah. I think that for people who really are driven by helping other people, it’s hard to find that balance. So yeah, I agree. I read the book a while back, and I really like his kind of framework on that. What about fictionary? Are you fiction reader?

 

Austin L. Church  45:21

Nonstop. Always reading some novel.

 

Alastair McDermott  45:24

And what kind of stuff do you read?

 

Austin L. Church  45:27

I love science fiction. I love fantasy. I’ll read literary fiction too. But if I have my way, I will just devour fantasy fiction. Although I will say probably my, the guy that I will buy, everything he comes out with and read it as soon as it comes out is Neal Stephenson. I just think the way he builds worlds is I think he’s a genius. Personally, I just, he’s one of a kind, singular talent. But yeah, I’d become antisocial when he drops a new novel, because I don’t want to talk to you or see you or anyone until I’ve just had my time with that world and that story.

 

Alastair McDermott  46:16

Yeah, yeah, no, I I’m a big sci fi and fantasy fan as well. Brandon Sanderson will be up there as probably the the person who I would stop everything for when he’s but the problem is he released a new book every three weeks so that’s that’s a slight exaggeration, but not much. So

 

Austin L. Church  46:34

Did did read the fourth installment of the Stormlight Archive and was so sad when it was finished but sorry, I know we need to close down I interrupted you.

 

Alastair McDermott  46:43

No that’s okay. And just for anybody listening like the storm Stormlight Archive, like each book have that that is you know, it’s like a doorstop. It’s It’s massive. It’s a tome. Yeah. So anyway, Austin, people are interested in checking you out. They want to find out more. Where should they go?

 

Austin L. Church  47:02

LinkedIn, that’s where I am the most my brand strategy side is balernum.com B A L E R N U M.com. And then Freelance Cake is where I do a lot of my coaching freelancecake.com. But start on LinkedIn.

 

Alastair McDermott  47:19

We will put all of those in the show notes, which are linked below the episode. So Austin, thank you so much for being here with us today.

 

Austin L. Church  47:26

It’s been my pleasure. Thank you, Alastair.

 

Alastair McDermott  47:32

Thanks for listening. If you gained any insights or tips from this episode, please leave a review. It would really help us out. And it’s very easy to do. Just click on the review link in the show notes on your device and it will bring you straight to a page with options for the device that you’re listening on. Thanks. It really helps. It’s much appreciated.

 

Voiceover  47:52

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