How much is YOUR Hat Worth?

In high school, I took a class on economics where my teacher took off his huge hat, threw it on the desk in front of the room, and continued by asking the class, “How much is this hat worth?”

What's your price?

The entire rest of the class discussed perceived value, opportunity costs, and supply and demand. I’ll save the real business talk to the economists, but I’m going to share with you what I learned that day while looking at that old, stinky straw hat.

I learned that it isn’t what it costs to make something that determines the price, and it isn’t what it costs in materials or labor.

What determines the price is the perceived value.

By increasing the value of our image, the perceived value of our work, and the frequency in which we carry it out, we will, by the very nature, increase our revenues as entertainers. The following is a collection of ways to build perceived value in your work. Note that some of the things listed are not just raising your perceived value but your actual value. Make sure your clients are aware of how you’re increasing your worth so that you can benefit from it.

-Wear a Costume
It doesn’t have to be a clown outfit. I recommend it is not. Just the same, you should have a professional image that you portray at every event by wearing the same (or similar) clothing that is clean, pressed, and presentable.

-Use Contracts
Not only do they protect you, but they make you look like you’re worth ten times more than you would be without them. Contracts do not have to be complex. If you are looking for a great start, look up Todd Neufeld and his book on contracts for balloon entertainers, “Sign Here.”

-Professional Business Cards
Have a professionally made business card. If your business card looks like it was printed at home or a high school drop-out made it on the computer in their spare time, it will reflect on your business accordingly.

-Have a Good Web Site
Chances are, you are not qualified to design, host, and maintain your website all on your own. If you are not comfortable programming in CSS, HTML, JavaScript, PHP, ColdFusion, ASP, or any other web-based programming language, it is highly suggested to find someone who can help you. When designing a website, you can use graphic designers, programmers, and hosting providers to help make your page unique and pleasing to your visitors.
Web Site Tip: Look up other professional companies and mimic their designs and layouts so that you too can look just as experienced and design-savvy.

-Continued Education
Be a part of a continuing education program. Whether it be conventions, books, videos, magazines, or YouTube… Make sure you have a constant source of new, fresh content to keep you up to date and well capable of meeting any technical requirement for your industry.

-Use a Proper Agent
If you cannot negotiate well for your prices, pay someone else to do it for you. By sending clients through agents, you can let someone else talk positively about you so that you don’t have to try and toot your own horn. When using an agent, realize that you are interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you.

-Proper Event Etiquette
Show up on time, do what you said you would do, and then leave on time. This makes you look more professional than the guy that shows up 2 minutes late. It also has you look better than the guy that gives off the impression that he’s never hired for gigs because he stays so late over that you know he couldn’t have another event that day. Most importantly, though, do what you said you were going to do if you have time to over-deliver. Great! Otherwise, fulfill your contract, say “thank you,” and leave.
There are also many other ways to provide an increased perceived value to your customer. You can do it in person, over the phone, through a newspaper ad, on TV, or even through a book that you may sell after your events.

As you may recall, the teacher asked my entire high school class what we thought the hat was worth. Can you guess what the answer was?

“It’s worth whatever people are willing to pay for it.”

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