By Ana Gotter on 14-Oct-2019 11:12:28
It’s no secret that there’s an immediate discrepancy when it comes to what we wish we could charge as social media marketers or agencies, and what our clients wished we charged. We’d like that number to inch up, and our clients would sometimes like it to go way down, even if they’re willing to meet our current asking price..
This can put many social media marketers in a tough spot, trying to charge enough to be profitable and pay the bills while stay competitive in pricing and services with everyone else out there. As a result, an increasing number of new social marketers are trying to find better ways to offer affordable social media marketing services to their clients.
Wondering how you can do exactly this in your agency, creating a value offer of great affordability, without sacrificing quality or profitability? We’ve got great news for you-- this is possible if it’s the path you want to take, and in this post, we’ll look at how to find the right price point for your services and how to keep your costs down and your profits up.
Why Affordable Social Media Services Matters
The social media marketing field is pretty competitive. So many agencies and freelancers alike know that businesses have so much on their plates that social is one thing that they don’t have the time or skills to manage well. The average small business owner, for example, would look at you confused if you started talking about how to set up an effective ad funnel. Most small businesses understand that they don’t want to deal with social themselves, especially as they get frustrated with lackluster results at the beginning.
Corporations and larger businesses can choose to hire their own in-house teams to handle social media marketing, but many small and medium businesses don’t have that luxury. And not only can they not hire their own in-house team, they also don’t have the funds to hire those boutique agencies and freelancers charging tens of thousands of dollars a month for basic strategy and management.
Affordable social media marketing services give brands the opportunity to hire an individual marketer or company that knows what they’re doing and can offer decent services at a fair price. It’s often a win-win; the business gets access to services they couldn’t afford otherwise, and social media marketers get to work with passionate clients and set themselves apart by charging budget-friendly prices (as long as it’s profitable to them).
What Exactly Counts as "Affordable?"
The term “affordable” is hardly a specific one, so the term can cover a wide range depending on who you’re talking to and what they’re looking for. Someone looking for several-times-a-week posting and scheduling, for example, for three platforms might be satisfied with a $500 quote, while someone who also wants ad management and engagement monitoring might be willing to go up to $1300 even on a tight budget.
Look at quotes from freelancers and agencies with experience similar to yours, and see what they’re charging. This can give you a starting point of what you think you can charge with your target audience.
We want to stress this again: you’ve worked hard to gain the skills to build this career, so don’t undervalue yourself. Make sure that you’re making enough to grow and scale your own business, and that you aren’t cheating yourself out of funds by going too low. If your hourly rate works out to be under $40 per hour, you may need to start charging more.
How To Maximize Profitability While Charging Low Rates
If you’re choosing to target an “affordable” value offer (which does not mean “cheap”), remember that you don’t want to do this at the expense of your profit and your future. It’s important to find ways to maximize profitability, particularly when you aren’t charging those super-high boutique agency prices, and there are two key pillars to doing exactly this:
- Improving efficiency at the tasks at hand, allowing you to get more done in less time and thus raising your per-hour rate when charging flat fees.
- Keeping your costs down to keep more of your profit to yourself.
Let’s look at a few specific ways to do this and how to implement them within your business.
Charge Flat Rates
The first step to making more when offering “affordable” social media marketing services is to charge flat rates. In our experience, we know that flat rates are often most beneficial to freelancers and agencies for a number of reasons, including the following:
- It’s easier to get clients to agree to sign with you, because they’re given a flat fee number and they know exactly what they’ll be paying for.
- A flat fee instead of a per-hour prioritizes the value the client gets instead of just the time you put into the project; this is key to maximizing profit overall as you do the work more quickly with the right processes. As long as the client is getting the same or better value, it doesn’t matter how much time you spend on the project.
- Flat fees give you more room to work and maximize profit for yourself, all while knowing exactly what you’re going to make each month.
- Flat fees make it possible for clients to pay you up front at the beginning of the month since they’ll know what they’re paying you. Since you’re not charging high rates for your services, this will help with cash flow and make your life much easier.
Offer flat-rate fees, and detail exactly what they cover, including which platforms, how many posts per week, and add-ons like strategy, engagement management, or ad creation.
Offer Tiered Packages
Typically, offering multiple different distinct packages is a good way to upsell new and existing clients to those higher-priced tiered services. These customers have come to you because they're after the best value offer, and including more services under a higher price point can start to look appealing to them. They're investing in your services; might as well get the most out of it possible.
It’s also worth noting that it’s typically more time efficient-- and thus profitable!-- to do more work for a single client that you’re already familiar with than to take on a single project from fifty different ones. If you’re able to charge more by doing more work for a smaller amount of clients while you scale, the work goes faster and profitability goes up.
Keep Your Costs Down
This is pretty straightforward: the lower your overhead, the more of your profit that you get to keep, and the more you make in the long run. Though running a business means that some expenses are inevitable, you can get smart and keep costs down in a number of different ways.
Some methods include:
- Finding the most cost-effective payment methods available to you. This will depend on your country and your clients, but take a look at which payment options have the highest and lowest fees. Some invoicing softwares even offer discounts for certain credit cards or types of bank transfers. If you’re paying fewer payment processing fees, it will add up quickly.
- Trim down office expenses. If you’re a single-person social media marketer or just starting up your agency and don’t need to rent a $700 a month desk in a shared office space, don’t do it; you can all work remotely from the comfort of your home office until you’re ready to scale.
- Find affordable software to make your job easier and faster, but nothing unnecessary because it “seems like you should.” If you don’t think you’ll want to use Pin It to Win It contest, don’t upgrade to the social contest software package that includes it, and if you’ve got five clients, don’t worry about that Hootsuite enterprise plan or high-cost unlimited invoicing subscription. Ideally, you should find software that will scale well with you as your company grows, but isn’t charging you an arm and a leg for features you don’t need.
There are so many different ways to keep your costs managed, but this is a good start. Another is to prioritize free marketing channels for your business, which brings us to our next tip...
Use Free Marketing Channels
Marketing is a huge cost for all growing businesses, so putting extra effort into fully utilising those free channels can go a long way.
Start your own social media marketing accounts to promote your business, showing that you can deliver what you promise by setting a clear example of what you can do. Collect social proof, write blog posts and guest posts that establish your expertise on the subject on your own site (which can also help with SEO!) and get plenty of referrals to feature everyone from your Facebook to your LinkedIn to your site.
This doesn’t mean that you should completely neglect paid advertising avenues completely; running a few Google Ads campaigns bidding on keywords like “affordable social media services for small business” could be a great success. But the more you’re able to leverage free platforms, the lower your client acquisition costs will be.
Optimize Your Schedule to Streamline Efficiency
Efficiency is really going to be the name of the game here, because it allows you to finish your work quickly, meaning that your hourly rate goes up when you’re charging fixed price fees. That’s a win, especially since it means you’ll have room to take on a few new clients, too.
Ultimately the best way to streamline your work processes will depend on you and how you like to work, but these are a few suggestions we have for where to start:
- Consider limiting time-sucking tasks, like engagement management or ad monitoring unless your clients are paying premium prices. You can drive yourself crazy trying to respond to comments on your clients’ accounts all day every day. If you are going to take on engagement management, charge accordingly.
- Schedule most content for each client towards the beginning of the month, or the beginning of the week. It’s much faster to sit down and do it all at once than it is to try to do it day-by-day, and then adjust the calendar as needed when last minute content comes out. It also lets your client review it once if they want to, which can speed things up.
- Take full advantage of automated publication tools, like those that come with Hootsuite, Agorapulse, or other social management software. These tools can be invaluable for social media marketers trying to keep up with everything. Not only can you see all incoming messages in one place, you can also send off content for team members or clients to review before it goes live. There’s also the auto-scheduling options, which allow you to recycle a single great, evergreen post across multiple platforms. Want to share a great photo of your new product on Facebook and Instagram? Do it at once, and set it to post again on Facebook in another six weeks, all from one screen. It’s fast, easy, and convenient, and it will speed you up.
In many cases, we’ve noticed that people like to set aside certain blocks of time for each client on specific days of the week, or for certain hours. This helps them plan ahead, optimize their time, and decide if they have any more room to take on a new account or two.
Most people don't become a social media marketer and go through all the work of getting certified so that they can struggle to live paycheck to paycheck, and no matter what you charge your clients, you shouldn't either.
Remember that while affordability is. a fantastic value offer, you also have an exceedingly valuable skillset than many "social media experts" don't; after completing our courses at Social Media College, for example, you won't just know the technical requirements needed to create a Facebook Ad, but how to develop a strategy for a video series that will establish brand awareness quickly. Sad though it may be, this is not a commonly-held skill, so don't forget that. Your services still should be an investment for your clients, but while they're focused on not breaking their bank, make sure you do the same for your own business.