Casey Brown is a pricing consultant and President of Boost, an organization that helps companies improve profitability through better pricing. In her Ted Talk, “Know Your Worth, And Then Ask For It,” which has been viewed more than one and a half million times, Brown offers women advice on how to increase their personal value. Her message is simple— “no one will ever pay you what you’re worth; they will only ever pay you what they think you’re worth, and you control their thinking.”
Brown begins her talk by pointing out that while her method for increasing personal value is universally applicable, her advice is particularly relevant to women business owners. Women business owners today earn only eighty cents for every dollar men business owners earn. Based on her consulting experience, Brown believes this is due in large part to women underpricing more frequently than men. Women often explain that they are uncomfortable communicating their true value, reporting that they feel as if they are “tooting their own horn,” whereas they would rather let their work speak for itself. Men operate from a different narrative and Brown believes this difference is what’s costing women business owners twenty cents on the dollar.
Through her work in helping companies increase profitability, Brown has developed a “pricing for value” formula: Define + Tell = Earn. The first step is to define what your unique value is. This involves asking yourself key value questions such as:
- What are my clients’ needs and how do I meet them?
- What is my unique skillset that makes me better qualified to meet my clients’ needs?
- What do I do that no one else does?
- What problems do I solve for clients?
- What value do I add?
Brown provided her own experience as an example. When she sat down and asked herself these questions about her own consulting business and calculated her clients’ return on their investment, she found she needed to double the price of her services. Brown confessed that even after she did the analysis and knew the value was there, she was still terrified to ask clients to pay the higher prices. Her point was that doubts and fears are often natural in women, but those doubts and fears don’t have to limit our earning potential.
The second step in Brown’s formula is to communicate your value to the client. As an example, Brown tells the story of a past client who ran a web development company. The woman introduced herself to others as having “a little web design company.” By diminishing her company in the eyes of clients and herself, Brown explained, the woman was negatively affecting her own ability to earn what she was worth. The woman’s language and style communicated that she did not believe she had much value to offer. Once the woman changed her message, she was not only able to increase her profitability, but found increased self-confidence and power.
Brown’s formula for increasing personal value provides another approach women can take to work toward closing the gender pay gap. Her advice may prove applicable and beneficial to women attorneys regardless of employment status. By clearly defining and communicating value to a “client,” whether that client is a current boss, prospective employer, or business client, women attorneys may be able to more successfully recapture the value they actually provide.
Chantel Kramme is an associate at Faegre Baker Daniels LLP in Des Moines, Iowa.