I recently asked a fairly prominent businessperson to coffee to discuss business; mainly, for them to impart wisdom to me. “Sure,” the businessperson replied, if I would compensate them to the tune of $650 an hour. Apparently, the person’s manager frowns upon donated time.
My first thought: $650 AN HOUR?
My second thought: How can I charge someone $650 to talk to me?
My third thought: What ever happened to donating time?
I don’t begrudge this person for charging people to have conversations with them. It is their God-given, capitalistic right to do so.
However, as a small-businessman just starting out, my $650 question would be: “What strategies can I use to build my business to a place where I can spend $650 of my discretionary budget on an hour consultation?”
According to a family member, I’m the crazy one for attempting to talk to someone “out of my league” so to speak.
I am blessed to have met Stephanie Perry-Moore, an author who endorsed my first novel, The Lost Testament, and have made the acquaintance of another famous Christian fiction author, who has offered to mentor me. My editor, Steven Manchester, gives me a rate different than that of his normal clients. And a caterer that I now work with, Made From Scratch Catering and Desserts, provided me treats for no charge to promote her business during my most recent book signing. Cost = $0.
A good portion of my profits go to charity and I help others when and where I can. I believe because of it, eventually, God will elevate me to higher positions. Besides, generosity does not go unnoticed. I talk up the people who help me. Word-of-mouth advertising is invaluable. People will eschew reviews, back cover copy, and the recommendation of someone famous (besides Oprah and a couple of other people) for the word of a friend of someone they trust or respect. For example, critics kill Tyler Perry’s films, yet people still flock to his movies in droves. He knows his audience. His movies sell out. His plays sell out. His book is popular. Perry is so successful that he created his own movie studio and films his own TV shows AND movies on it. How did he get so successful? Word-of-mouth. That word-of-mouth leads to establishing a core, niche audience.
The businessperson I approached has crafted a niche audience as well; I just don’t happen to fit it. Round pegs don’t go into square holes, even if they are forced. Either the round peg becomes square, or it finds a round hole it fits. The holes don’t often change for the pegs.
So how does one get a niche audience? Find the people most interested in your work and exploit them mercilessly. Target your advertising to them. Merchandise to them. Give them free stuff. Everybody loves free stuff, even if it’s a pen, a refrigerator magnet, or a bookmark.
So, I suppose I answered my own question. Can I pay myself $650?