Can You Charge To Diagnose?

Chris discusses whether you're able to charge to diagnose problems with co-host Melinda Livsey. Where to begin? Try mapping out something in your life where a professional has charged you to diagnose a problem.

In the Win Without Pitching Manifesto, author Blair Enns says doctors and lawyers charge their clients to diagnose a problem, so why don’t creatives do the same? Well, what does a diagnosis in the creative field look like? How do you charge for that and quantify the value?

First and foremost, designers need to change their mindset. We can’t go into the problem assuming we already know the answer. If you come towards your client’s problem and decide that a logo design will solve it, the diagnostic process has no value. The more you try to tell the client “you need a new logo” rather than ask them questions about the problem, the less likely they are to listen.

There are certain problems to look for. They could be a communication, customer experience, or business problem to solve.

We want to act like doctors, lawyers, mechanics, and real estate agents and ask a series of questions that allow us to narrow the problem down. Rather than jump straight the answer, take the time to explore the company and what the best possible solution is for them.

If a client comes to you already self-diagnosed, you’re not supposed to accept it. You let them lead the conversation when you do this. So for example, if a client comes to you and says, “I need a website,” respond with “You might need a website, yes, but let me ask you a few questions to make sure.” Clients might think they need one thing, but when you ask them the right series of questions, more opportunities can open up and you position yourself as the problem-solver.

Start by asking what is driving their decision, or self-diagnosis. Then, explore the problem at hand, and devise some solutions for them.