7 tips for freelancers navigating pandemic pricing pressures

Sales & Growth

Special thanks to guest author, Kirsten Anderson, Integrate Play Solutions

If budgets have been cut back recently, should we lower our prices? If clients are scarcer now, should we adjust our pricing? If we get push-back on a proposal, should we discount?

These questions are cropping up with greater frequency in my circle of independent consultants, facilitators and business coaches. Instead of over-complicating and over-thinking these common concerns, what if… we thought about our boutique corporations like an ice cream shop?

1. Clarity of value

The typical ice cream shop has a highly visible menu posted with clear prices for what value you get.  People know what to expect for their investment.

Communicate clearly the problem you solve, how you are different, and how your solution will impact the purchaser.

2. Tiny tasters

Some people know exactly what flavour they’re after, while others wish to test try. Tiny taster spoons are provided free with the expectation that almost all testers will purchase at least one flavour they try.

If the products you’re offering are unfamiliar, try offering a “taster”. It may provide more clarity of the value you provide.

3. Choice overwhelm

Most ice cream shop menus are limited—there’s nothing other than cream or gelato flavours, and the classic banana split. A single theme of ice cream is often an indicator of their product knowledge and expertise.

Indecision from an overwhelming number of choices can delay or eliminate buyers that if given less variety would have otherwise purchased.

For example our leadership program, Stack The Deck™ has pricing for 90 minute sessions, half-day, full-day, or a 2-day retreat; equivalent to a child-size cone, 1 scoop, 2 scoops or 3 scoops. The unifying theme in all of our experiential sessions is deep learning through serious purposeful playfulness—our expertise.

gelato flavours

4. Add ons

Some customers just want a basic cone. Others want their cone chocolate dipped or with sprinkles on top.

Customizing your offerings is like the sprinkles on top. What might you offer as an add on to the initial purchase? For example our “sprinkles” include PDF and printed workbooks, follow-up individual or team coaching and extra participants.

ice cream cone toppings

5. Stick with your expertise

When it comes to ice cream you might buy from a local gelato, dairy farm, beach side, a truck, or a multi-national soft-serve chain. Different tastes, needs and situations call for a variety of providers and products.

Like the proliferation of ice cream offered around the world there is also an abundance of companies offering leadership and people development for teams with infinite variations.  The recipe you use, your skills and unique background, provides your distinct value to your clients.

Don’t try to appease those looking for pasta at your ice cream shop. Be kind. Refer them down the road. The desire to please everyone can spread your energy, time and resources too thin distracting from doing your one thing exceedingly well.

6. The value is the value

If you buy an ice cream at the counter you can usually choose to sit at a table inside, outside on a patio or take it on a walk with you. There isn’t a different price depending on where you eat it as the value it provides and the cost to make it remains the same.

Some professional speakers, trainers, and facilitators have been asked to significantly reduce their rates for remote work because they are not travelling to an on site event. Yes, not travelling does save time and it also means the organizer saves on travel expenses.

As far as the presentation value and preparation, it usually remains the same, if not increases in some cases. There are also additional technical and support costs to consider when pricing.

The product you deliver is your life-time of experience and expertise whether it is served at home or on on the road. The value for investment should exceed expectations for repeat business.

7. Discounts

When a new ice cream shop opens its doors for the first time they’ll be well marketed, and ready to offer a discount. A word to the wise: start with competitor research then experiment with discounts!

If 80% of customers are happy with the value and experience they receive then you may have found the elusive just right pricing.

What are the foot traffic numbers telling you? Are potential customers walking out, sampling without buying, or lining up for your services?

The next time you are thinking about adjusting your pricing strategy for changing economic conditions refer back to these seven tips on how to think of your offerings like an ice cream shop owner.

May your offers be so incredibly irresistible your clients keep running back to you as fast as a kid chasing an ice cream truck on a hot summer’s day.

See Kirsten’s first post on how to connect remote teams.


After 25 years as an entrepreneur in the toy industry, and over a decade as the play expert on Global TV, Kirsten sold the award winning “Best Toy Store in Canada” to bridge her expertise in business leadership and the bottom-line benefits of a playful mindset at work.

Though some call her a Playologist, she’s actually an international keynote speaker and master facilitator on the power of playfulness to improve innovation, wellness, culture, and team cohesion.

Kirsten is the founder of Integrate Play Solutions; a boutique training corporation working with organizational teams in diverse industries, to help solve their messiest challenges using playful methods—the favourite being LEGO® Serious Play®.

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