Nigel's Blog

Why No-one Will Pay For Your Expert Advice (And What To Do About It)

January 06, 2019

Good advice is incredibly valuable. But few people are willing to pay for it.

It is THE challenge for the professional services firm - whether accountants, lawyer, investment banker or executive coach. Clients don’t want to pay for your most valuable product - good advice.

Put simply advice is an idea - and good advice is a good idea. And good ideas are very hard to monetise. Partly because once you share them the client can’t forget them. And partly because once it’s shared, 99% of the value of the idea has been transferred (even if the bulk of the value is found in executing the idea - that’s a whole different discussion).

The other problem with ideas is no-one wants to pay ahead of time (“how do I know if your idea is any good?”). But once its transferred people don’t feel obliged to pay. This gets worse with really good ideas because they seem so obvious after the fact. Who wants to pay for common sense?

This is why most lawyers and accountants and most professional service providers feel like they are under-appreciated by their clients and under-valued. Because they are - clients don’t value your advice (if by value we mean are willing to pay for it).

There are two basic ways around this: 1. Protect your ideas and don’t win any clients by sharing your ideas; 2. Give away your ideas for free and make money in the execution of the ideas.

There is a third option noted by Tim Adeney where some providers (eg VCs) use ideas as a differentiator ie they provide capital, but give advice for ‘free’.

So what to do? The easiest answer is to give away your ideas for free and charge for execution of ideas (the tactics, or how-to).

And in case you think this is just an old world problem, you see the same pattern with the online masters. Whether you have been around as long as Seth Godin, or be as attractive a character as Russell Brunson, or up an comer like Sebastian Gomez they all do it: give away ideas/strategy and sell (and upsell!) tactics and how-to.

And the good news is that tactics and how-to change all the time - so you will be able to sell your services again and again. Now that’s a good idea!

Nigel Gordon

Hi. I'm Nigel Gordon and here are my musings on business, investing, startups and growth. Follow me on Twitter