What are you worth to your business partners?

No business is an island. We all have partners.

And whether your partnerships fall under some formal arrangement or are something looser there has to be something in it for everyone.

Partnerships don’t always involve money. Networking partners introduce you to potential clients or help you expand your reach in exchange for you doing the same for them.

If you constantly come up short, your networking partners will find someone else to fill your role.

But what about partners where a fiscal return is expected?

One of my more popular articles talks about How Professional Speakers Can Make $10,000 a gig. In essence speakers make $10,000 when they convince clients to pay them $10,000.

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It’s all about value. Tell a good story and connect it to a return on investment that far exceeds the cost to bring you in.

With business partnerships we all bring a certain value to the table that our partners use to judge how hard they are going to push to make us successful.

If I do some subcontracting for an agency and I constantly knock the socks off their clients, I’m going to get a lot more work from them because they can charge a premium to have me on their projects.

If on the other hand I deliver work that is “fine” or “good” they will always be open to a better options that will help them cement their reputation for excellence and allow them to charge more.   

When there is no perceived value in a relationship in either the short or long term, the higher value partner isn’t going to put too much work into keeping it alive because there is no return on their investment.

What got me thinking about this was a discussion I had with a client a while back. Her fees seemed unusually low considering her experience and track record of success.

She also wasn’t bringing in the business like she used to.

It was a bit of a head scratcher.

From my end there was definitely some marketing polish required on her website and social media. That was all technical. It required some writing and a little business (re)modelling.

But how was she going to show her partners that she was valuable to them? In her case the partners were speakers bureaus. And at $3500, she was priced like a million other speakers in her niche.

What came next was a bit of a leap. I told her to triple her speaking fee.

“But I can’t get anyone to hire me at $3500! Who’s going to hire me at $10500?”

We had already done the work and clearly articulated her value proposition in her marketing material. But we needed partners to fight for her in the bureau world. And those partners are in the business of making money.

According to Speakers Gold a Speaker Bureau’s cut can be anywhere from 20%-35% of the speakers fee.

My thinking was simple. I imagined myself as the owner of a speakers bureau. If I was going to get a commission based on what my speakers charge, I’d fight harder to place the ones who were the most professional, delivered exceptional returns for my clients AND were going to make me more money.

By tripling her fee she is actually making her relationship with bureau partners more valuable because she is guaranteed to deliver the goods and she was also going to help them increase their revenue. 

It really is simple math.

Your business is built on the value you bring to all your partners. When you maximize your value to them, they’ll move mountains to make sure you’re successful.

Aidan Crawford

Aidan Crawford is president of Short Circuit Media. His main job is helping consultants, trainers and professional speakers get their marketing in order by creating and implementing strategies to help them reach their target audiences.


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