Jim's Marketing Blog

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How to attract the best clients and the highest fees: Part 3

If you want to attract the best clients and the highest fees, you need to understand the commercial value of originality.

Photo: John Trainor

The original Mona Lisa was insured in 1962 for a hundred million dollars and today that valuation would be closer to a billion dollars.  However, you can buy a copy of the Mona Lisa for the price of a coffee!  This is because the marketplace values originality and attaches no value to copycats.

The easy route

The easy route is what the masses decide to take.  This is what Seth Godin refers to as; “offering an average service to average people.”  They attract average clients and have to charge average fees.  This approach is soul destroying and those who take it look to the future with apprehension.  However, it requires little thought, which is why it’s so common.

The challenging route

The challenging route is what the leaders in every field decide to take.  They look for ways to offer a uniquely valuable service, rather than looking for excuses for why they MUST toe the line and do what their competitors are doing.

Whenever I have written on this subject before, people have left comments saying that it’s just not possible to offer anything new or original in their profession.  That is factually incorrect.  What they are really saying, is that it’s challenging, so they quit.  The people get on and do it, push through that challenge.  They invest the effort and energy to come up with something uniquely valuable and then they have the courage to implement it.  That’s why they get to work with the best clients and earn the highest fees.

In a world full of copycats, you can achieve huge commercial success if you seek out and implement your own, original masterpiece!

You can catch up on part 1 and part 2 of this series, using the links below:

How to attract the best clients and the highest fees Part 1

How to attract the best clients and the highest fees Part 2

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  1. I totally agree with you on the part when you say that it takes a lot to really face up the challenges to be able to achieve the best in the field that you are currently in. Yes, ideas and concepts that have been swirling around the world in various industries may somehow be not original at all; but for as long as you would not stop searching for what would you stand out and let your uniqueness be emphasized, then the bottom point here could not be explained any clearer.

    For you have made it as lucid as snow already. Good job! :)

  2. I love the example of the Mona Lisa and the difference between the value of the original and the copies.

    Great post James.

    • Hi Phil.

      It never ceases to amaze me that there can be 50 accountants, lawyers, web designers etc in any town, and almost all will be offering identical sounding services.

      Then they complain that potential clients are “fee sensitive.”

      No they are not!

      Potential clients will use your fee (or price) as a way to differentiate you from the pack, when you all seem to be offering the same value.

      Give them something else to base their decision on, and they will.

  3. Al Pittampalli

    June 14, 2011 at 00:08

    Great advice. On the edges is where the great businesses/organizations are. Providing a service that isn’t for everyone. But those who the service is for–absolutely love it (Crossfit comes to mind). Not easy to achieve, but worth it.

  4. Great points about copycats and how every company has the ability to offer specific products or services that allow them to differentiate themselves from their competition. I used to work in a corporate office for a franchise company and just through my observations, it occurred to me quite quickly that most small companies, especially franchisees, want someone else to come up with the ideas for them. Not to mention, they would love for someone else to pay for those ideas as well. Keeping a business alive takes more than just throwing a couple of ads out there…the company has to have a strategic marketing plan that not only includes multiple types of marketing and advertising, but also creative ways to sell customers on the product and / or service in a way no one else in the industry is already.

  5. Billy Delaney

    July 14, 2011 at 00:47

    Ah! the work involved. There’s the rub.
    Jim there are people like me looking for material like this.
    We aren’t afraid of the differentiation, but we just might be unsure of the path.
    Thanks for the subtle Mona Lisa comparison, didn’t think of myself like that; but that is what I am saying I a really like.
    Appreciate this lampost in the lane of individualilty.

  6. Alison Griffiths

    July 14, 2011 at 01:47

    Being original also means taking risks. Trying something that no-one else has done means that you don’t know how it is going to be received. Many people (in my experience) are nervous of ‘new’ and ‘different’, they like the comfort of the familiar. My challenge as a designer is to come up with fresh and original stuff that doesn’t scare the pants off my clients!

  7. You are spot on here Jim – again, validation that I’m on the right path. I’m not giving up – instead I’m broadening that big picture vision and am more excited about the future than anything! No copycats here my friend!!

    GREAT series – I’m very grateful to and for you!!

    Much kindness,


  8. Yes, Jim, you’re right about uniqueness at ‘The challenging route’. I like your protest against that. Hope to find more on this in recent days. Thanks a lot for the great sharing.

  9. I only came across this trilogy of posts today Jim. You have given me food for though about how to stand above the crowd, thank you :-)

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