This is a message for ad agencies, marketing firms, consultants, freelancers, and everyone who buys or sells a service.
Hmmm. That means you and me.
Almost always, a freelancer or consultant is asked what their "hourly rate" is.
Even smaller firms are routinely asked this question by their clients.
You might even be told what you can be paid, based on a presented hourly rate, as an offer to accept or reject.
Now wait. Hang on.
I realize well that certain tasks are rather mechanical and thereby can be justifiably calculated on time, where intuition, imagination, and artistry are not as obviously present. You who do this kind of labor, though valuable, may be graciously exempted from this following argument if you choose.
Now, I'm not the first nor the last to bemoan how bad our industry is at charging for our services and therefore establishing a tangible value for our work.
But it's always the perfect time to join together to try to change this.
The problem with "hourly rates" are numerable but here are the big ones:
1. Rookies can take far longer to do something an expert can do quickly.
2. Geniuses take far too little time to make anything look like a lot of work. Client: "That only took your five minutes!" Artist: "Yes, five minutes and fifteen years of experience."
3. Time is rarely the most important quality to make or break a brand's success.
4. You can run out of time.
Would you rather have sixty great clients who paid you $500 each per month or six great clients that paid you $5,000 each?
How many hours do you really want to work?
So if you like being paid by the hour, good for you. Make sure you plan out your expenses, project budget and personal financial goals, and do the math backwards to fix a carefully calculated, triple-checked hourly rate based on the life you really want.
And good luck getting it.
Time cannot be spent, wasted, given, or taken. Time just is. Time cannot be managed. Only activity can be managed.
So think with me. When we are creating a long-term, thoughtful, meaningful brand voice, an enduring marketing icon, or helping launch a world-changing new product, how can that energy be financially compensated on a mere hourly basis?
How can we even begin put a price on such immensely important work?
I'm not exactly sure.
I say "no" when asked to quote what my or my agency's hourly rate is. I'd rather talk about value. What is it worth to you, Mr./Mrs. or Ms. Client, to be the most talked-about and loved business in your sector or the whole world? What is it worth to you to create a brand that people truly like to hang out with, a brand people are inspired by?
Let's support each other, and find a better way.
Hmmm...how about getting residuals, like other industries get, for creative product? The better the work, the longer it runs and benefits, the more we earn.
I'd love to hear your stories and ideas. This is big.
As a strategist, writer, designer, producer, director, actor, musician, performer, teacher, trainer and speaker, creative marketing was a potentially ideal career for Paul. Yet after years of winning dozens of global creativity awards with various agencies, Paul gave up the awards pursuit and became a professional human being.
Paul launched the1101experiment in 2001, focusing on bringing top-level strategy, creativity and multi-dimensional success to global brands, but with an added emphasis on positive ethical and social opportunities. Paul's thinking has been published worldwide and has predicted many global cultural shifts long before they happened. Paul leads a mastermind network of friends, colleagues and multi-talented professionals from around the world who are strategists, writers, artists, web, social and interactive specialists, who are involved on all client work.