Today we are continuing this weeks series of posts on the issue of how complementary therapists (and others in the helping professions) can get comfortable with the process of earning a fair wage for what they do and what they offer the world.
We’re now going to draw upon our second insight using the life of Pablo Picasso.
The story goes that Picasso was sitting in a restaurant one day, when a female American tourist came across to his table and told him how much she admired his work, only she unfortunately would never be able to afford one of his pictures, no matter how much she would love to.
Having listened to this lady’s great admiration for his paintings, Picasso took out his pen, and drew a quick sketch on his white napkin, signed it below, and then handed it to the American tourist saying “A moment ago that napkin was worthless… now it is worth $10,000… a genuine Picasso.”
You see, Picasso was a genius at manifesting the intangible, and then getting people to pay money for it.
He could take a relatively simple, worthless white napkin, and then turn it into a unique masterpiece that was instantly considered a piece of art with a real market value.
And that is something which complementary therapists who are struggling with their finances must often learn to do… realize that they are not selling tangibles, but intangibles.
A complementary therapist must realize that they are taking lives which feel incomplete and unfulfilled in some way, and transforming them into lives which “work”.
And although that may not be a tangible thing, like a Rolls Royce or a diamond necklace… in this world of ours intangibles, like Picasso’s white napkin drawing, also can command a high price… especially for people in need of them.
And complementary therapists often forget this.
As an American advertising man once said, “We’re not selling the steak… we’re selling the sizzle.”
For example, if you were to ask an aromatherapist what they are selling, they might reply:
“I am selling a 1 hour session of massage with a range of essential oils, specifically tailored to your needs.”
Well, that is one answer, that is the steak answer, it tells us what happens.
But it doesn’t explain the transformation of feeling and experience which the client undergoes through that hour long session.
Another famous advertising man once said, “If I sell a man an idea, he will remember me for a week… but if I sell that same man a feeling, then he will remember me for life.”
Often in advertising and marketing it is not the idea which motivates a customer into taking action… it is the feeling which is connected with that idea… and that is why advertisers go to great lengths to evoke a specific feeling in their ad. campaigns.
And it is that intangible feeling which you, as a complementary therapist, are selling… that amazing feeling of relaxation they receive as they lie on the massage couch… that wonderful feeling of being uplifted as they walk out of your therapy room… that incredible feeling of clarity which they get after a session with you.
That’s what you are really selling… that’s what your Client’s are really looking for… and that’s where the true value of your product and services lies. Because that is really what people are paying for… the positive feelings which you create for them.
I have a theory that, one of the reasons why many complementary therapists have a hard time justifying their prices is because they forget what they are actually selling, they forget that they are in the transformation business… and people are just as prepared for pay for positive feelings as they are for any tangible products off the shelf of their local supermarket. Complementary therapists focus on selling the stake (and the explanation about the stake / your therapy and how it works is important admittedly)… but what people are really interested in is the sizzle… will it help them to feel better.
So if you are having a hard time justifying the value / worth of your products / services, just take a moment, stand back, and remember what your customers say to you about how they feel after a session with you… and those feelings are then all you really need to justify charging what you do.
(c) Brian Parsons, August 2016.