The Price is Right, Or Is It?

Posted on April 21, 2011


When I was programming one of the toughest questions I was ever asked was to make suggestions about what a host should charge for outside activities like endorsements, appearances or voiceover work. All I could do was try to give them some idea what the going rate in the market was.

That’s because like most people on the creative side of the business, I’m lousy at selling even when it’s a product I truly believe in like a member of my air staff or, more recently, my services at Talent Mechanic.  

So when I encountered a New York Times article titled “Real-Life Lessons in the Delicate Art of Setting Prices,” I dove in.

Eilene Zimmerman, who wrote the article, talked to a number of entrepreneurs about their struggles with pricing issues and, even though their businesses are very different from endorsements or talent coaching, the article included a couple of really good suggestions.

The first lesson is that raising prices will not kill your business. According to the founder of a tutoring and test preparation company, while he has probably lost some clients because his prices are higher than most, he’s also attracted high-end clients who are more loyal and tend to stay longer.

To put that in context,doing endorsements for a loyal roster of good clients will make you more attractive to potential sponsors than being the person who charges low rates and will shill for anything and everything.

Same goes for voiceover work; a few loyal clients who pay a higher price will net you more in the long run that a big roster of low-rate customers that constantly turns over.

The key to charging a higher price is having something that sets your service apart. When a computer glitch caused all the prices at an online retailer to display at cost instead of retail for an entire weekend sales only went up marginally. That’s because this particular business provides great customer service not just low prices.

Bringing that back to radio, if you really work at on-site events creating an entertaining experience for your  client’s patrons you should be paid more than a talent who sits in the corner with the interns. If you can develop a reputation for doing great remotes it will really pay off in higher rates and steady customers.