You can make a great deal of money creating a marketing business online.

However, most people are unsure how to present this to clients and further, they are unsure of what their service is worth.

When you are talking about costs to the client, you need to position yourself properly. In all reality, within a few months, they could be doubling the number of customers they have because of the services you provide. Keep that in mind as you begin to talk with the client. But, as you’ll see there are many variables, and the needs are different.

Your marketing strategies and implementations will be key.

“Marketing defined: the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” – American Marketing Association (AMA)

How much to charge for consulting?

The cost of your service or product is only as good as you make it, and the value it provides over time.

(IMPORTANT: You can create big demand for your services on the ‘front-end’ of your marketing funnel as long as you delivery quality too).

If you can provide customers with a better bottom line and/or amazing experience, you can rest assured that it will be worth their investment.What to charge clients

In general, to determine the price of these products, it is important to focus on what services you will be providing. This will differ from one person to the next based on how in depth you get.

Example services you can provide.

These can all be unique services or they can be part of the package that you offer to your client.

Discovery rules.

Before you offer any of these services, you need to know as much as you can about them. Make sure you read their online information, blog, etc. (Search for activities on social media, PPC, SEO). And, if you plan to offer other services, your rates will likely increase.

Furthermore, you should also expect to charge differently for services that are one time and services that are ongoing. For example, social media marketing is an ongoing service whereas the creation of a website or a blog is a onetime investment (unless you provide hosting service and a maintenance package as a ‘webmaster’).

What is the bottom line for pricing an online service business?

Those who are just starting out and focusing on social media marketing and Internet marketing should be able to charge at least $1500-$3000 a month to start for that service with an ROI-based justification. Every market is different, so research them, and price accordingly. An attorney service vs. a florist service will have a different model. They simply can afford more/less, because they have a different pricing structure as well.

As your skills improve and as your client base and services grow, you can increase this amount substantially. The fact is, you cannot price yourself too high in some markets if you are going to help a business get into a good spot in the search engines and verticals. If you do not take the time to do that, and you do not invest the time in learning how to do so, chances are good your services are worth less. But, in the end – you’ll have to be simply the BEST at solving people’s problems. The value for that solution set will be in proportion to how good you are.

Give your clients great value.

Give your clients value they can measure. One way of pricing yourself is by providing clients with the information they need in a way they can measure. This may seem fairly simple at first, but then, ask yourself, how will they know what you are doing for them? You can start simple. For social media, it can be how many “likes” or “followers” per day, per week, etc. For SEO, it may be a traffic number, perhaps a ranking, but definitely a conversion metric.

Here are some metrics to review:

Social Media Marketing Conference - San Franci...
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  • Before you begin, take a snapshot of today’s baseline. Then, you can estimate the percentage of increase in traffic that their blog or website will get over a period of time. Compare initial data points against your milestones in the future.
  • Provide the business with a means of measuring customers who are referred from the online marketing methods you use, such as tracking their movements on the website or referrals from phone tracking.
  • Track sales from any online retail site.
  • Measure traffic coming into the blog from email campaigns and social media marketing.
  • How many new (qualified) leads came in a specific period from your efforts. Compare that to before.
  • If spending $ on advertising, compare Cost against Return, or in ‘click’ terms, CPC (cost per click) against EPC (earnings per click)

All of this can be easily documented month after month using a defined process and tools.In other words, you can give them real numbers.

As long as you are diligent about doing the work of socially marketing the company (via different media and channels), they will see improvements in their numbers month over month. And, make sure you set expectations up front, without over-promising. Use current (historic) data, your experience and implement ongoing testing strategies.

Online marketing takes time to do it right.

One thing that you need to ensure that every client you work with knows is that the process of building a successful online marketing business will take time. If there is no website or blog in place, it will take at least a month for the set up and design of it, assuming you have the skills to do this. (You can do this faster, but without a plan, it’s a fools game)

If there is a blog but it is not getting traffic, it may take some time to rework the site or build custom “traffic” pages to leverage what you have. It will also take time to go through the blog to improve the keyword strategy, and link architecture, for example. Any traffic you create or get currently should have its primary focus on QUALITY. (For example, you can get 10c clicks from Stumbleupon ads, but the bounce-rate will be high if you don’t do this right.)

Further, if the website and blog posts are outdated or the blog has a bad reputation already, it will take even more time to get that blog ranked and branded well.
In other words, when you are speaking to clients, do not promise them that in 30 days you will increase their sales (*Unless you implement a fast paid ads->traffic->conversion->follow-up strategy).

Rather, promise them that you will provide them with verifiable data that shows what you are doing and the responses that it is getting for them.

Important tips for pricing success.

The following are a few tips to help you to price out your services appropriately.

Work of mob at St Quentin in food price riots ...
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  1. Take the time to check out other companies. They do not have to be local to you or be your direct competition. They just need to be companies offering the same services as you are. Get quotes from them if their pricing is not on their website. Check to see what they are doing and at what price points.
  2. Consider the bottom line as you price customer’s services. If the customer makes an additional $30,000 in sales during the month, are they really going to mind giving you $4,000 per month for helping them to get this service? Bigger companies with larger budgets can afford to go longer with “loss-leaders”.
  3. You can structure a contract with the company based on performance, with at least three months of build up time that is paid as a flat fee. From there, you can see improvements in what you are paid by the success the company sees.
  4. You can offer a risk free trial instead. Rather than offering the company a flat fee, why not offer them a 30 day trial or other incentive where they can see the growth of their blog or online business and see how much more traffic you are bringing in to them? This should not include any type of website or blog build time, though.
  5. You can negotiate a pricing plan that works for them and for their needs. Encourage them to cancel the promotional flyers that have poor tracking and do little for their business. Show them a simple plan on why they should work with you.

Remember that this is a business and you can structure this business the way that works right for you. It does not need to take a lot of time to work out some type of deal. The point is to get the process moving forward so that the business can start to see the improvements they are interested in and in turn, they can see just how valuable you are to them.

However, there are a few more decisions you need to make before you wrap up this checklist on pricing for client.

How to package your services.

One of the things you can do to improve upon your sales or to make the entire process simplistic for the business owner is to package your sales together. In short, you do have two options. You can sell all of your services together in one or more package offers. You can also sell your services a la carte. You can do both, too.

For example, you can put together various packages such as:

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  • You can offer a package that includes writing blog posts, social bookmarking, Facebook advertising, Twitter  management, ads and message distribution.
  • You can create a package that focuses on providing all Internet marketing services you deem necessary and that fit “their” profile.

You can structure such packages the way that works for you, based on your skills as well as your overall ability to perform these tasks. Those tasks that take you longer to do should cost the company more.

On the other hand, you may come across some companies that have a blog in place and may even have a writer in place already. They may just want you to take the search and social media work load for the site.

On the other hand, you may find a business owner that loves Facebook and Twitter and is doing it himself. However, he or she may need help with writing blog posts and create email marketing strategies, sequences and up-selling. Perhaps some custom Facebook fan page and HTML work.

These are all good instances for using a la carte pricing. You should, if you deem it a good service to offer, offer set prices for each type of service. You can and you should structure the process based on the amount of time you are investing in each one of them. Those tasks that take you more time to complete should, in turn, cost more.

(BIG NOTE HERE: However, it doesn’t always mean “work more hours”. Implement a repeatable, efficient process that requires less work and think about possible equity arrangements on top of a set monthly fee.)

Finally, as you consider the overall costs associated with providing consulting services, keep in mind that your time is valuable. Do not price yourself too low to get started. If you feel that you need more experience, work on getting that experience through your own blog or website. If you price your services too low, you will not get clients (who wants to work with a person that doubts himself or herself?).

It can be hard to know what you should charge for your consulting – especially at first. However, with some research on the options available to you, a consideration for your time investment and knowledge of the small business’s marketing budget, you can find the right balance to fit the overall needs and financial goals.

You can and should price yourself well since you will be helping these companies to make money and get visible.  Most consultants, marketers and coaches under-price their services. It’s a lack of self-esteem and missed knowledge about their market.

photo credit: Striking Photography by Bo Insogna


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Entrepreneur Magazine says Jon Rognerud is one of the most sought-after Digital Marketing Experts. His clients extend from high-end brands and middle-tier businesses in both B2B and B2C. His SEO website optimization book, "The Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Website" from Entrepreneur Press is in bookstores now.