Pricing a consulting retainer is a tricky ordeal.
Charge too much, and you’re quickly seen as an expense line item.
Don’t charge enough, and you leave a lot of money on the table—for you and your clients.
My typical advisory work involves helping my clients build the strategy, plan, and infrastructure needed to get repeatable and sustainable growth for my clients.
And that takes time.
It often involves ground-up overhauls of their entire marketing program, which takes several months or longer.
Since that’s how my engagements usually go, it means I need to be around long enough to see my clients through the execution work required.
With that in mind, it means I need to price my services in a way that allows clients to sustain my fees long enough to build out the necessary pieces until they no longer need me (though many keep me around for my perspective).
Some consultants are like special ops: they drop in, do a project, charge a lot, then they’re out. And that can work for highly strategic engagements or when solving very specific problems.
There’s nothing wrong with that approach. And if that’s the kind of work you do, you should charge a lot for the value you create.
But if your job is to stick around for a while, you will probably find the lifetime value of your client engagements goes up if you focus on making it sustainable for your clients on a month-to-month basis.
The question is: can you build a service that gets results within their budget range and is profitable enough for you to make it worthwhile?
Charge premium rates, but optimize for making it sustainable.