A lot of people talk about offering group coaching options as a way to create leverage around your expertise.
And that can be a great model for many.
But I also believe you can build highly profitable 1:1 advisory options that don’t always demand a lot of your time and energy before you need to go for more scalable options.
In this email, I’m going to share with you three ways to design highly profitable 1:1 engagements.
If you do it right, your business can reach several hundred thousand dollars without consuming all of your waking hours. I’m proof of this myself, so none of this is theoretical.
Below are three ways to design highly profitable 1:1 advisory retainers.
Option 1: The front-loaded retainer
In this scenario, you can front-load your engagements with higher fees since most of the heavy lifting and value delivered will be done in this phase of the engagement. After the original commitment period—6 months for example—you can then offer less involved and lower-priced down-sell retainer options to continue working with you.
This approach is especially useful when you work on large and complex projects and you anticipate that there’s not going to be as much of a need for your services over longer time horizons.
This method allows you to capture more value upfront and then have options for continuation at lower fees, if you both feel it’s suitable.
Option 2: The smoothed-out retainer
The second option is where you keep your prices fairly consistent indefinitely with the expectation that clients will need you for a long time.
In this scenario, your prices are kept fairly flat and consistent with what you believe your clients can sustain over a long period of time based on their cash flow and size.
Usually, the assumption is that results will take a long time to come to fruition, work will be steady, and you’ll need to iterate slowly as you go. So, your approach is to spread out your workload and plan for a longer-term engagement so you can be around to help the final results come to fruition.
Clients who have smaller budgets, fairly steady workloads, and/or will need to DIY much of the implementation over long periods are particularly ideal for this.
You’re giving them access to your brain for as long as they need to get a result—without breaking the bank—knowing it will take time for things to pay off.
With this method, it’s less about big projects and rapid investment and more about long-term strategic changes that need time for data to come in and for iteration to create a result.
Option 3: The lightweight retainer
The third option is to make your services a no-brainer price that provides the 80/20 of access to you.
Maybe you offer unlimited email consulting over six months. Or personalized answers from you in a membership forum. Or a hybrid of group calls and 1:1 DMs in Slack.
With this option, people get light access to you but they get all the benefits of having access to your brain on their particular challenges. They may even get access to training resources you’ve created to help make your direct involvement less critical to their success.
This approach is ideal for scenarios where you’re working with individuals (i.e. coaching or mentoring) whom you can help 1:1 only if you can make it affordable.
You have to be careful with this one and manage scope closely to avoid it becoming a negative experience for both parties, but it can be a highly profitable way to give 1:1 advice—for you and them.
Advisory retainers are all about the alignment of value, cash flow, and workload between you and your clients.
You want your clients to not feel like your fees are a burden—or if they are, they’re only a burden for a short while as they do hard things for short periods.
The best retainers are sustainable—for you and your clients. They’re not about squeezing the value out of each engagement. They’re about mutual profitability and alignment over extended periods of time.
If you want to sell short-term engagements or projects, it’s usually best you seek to extract (and provide) the highest amount of value possible within a shorter window.
After all, your expertise didn’t come cheaply to you, so you need to capitalize on it one way or another.
But if you want to sell retainers, the above approaches have worked best for me.
Did I miss anything? Got another experience to add? Did you have a lightbulb moment?
Reply and let me know.