“If I wake up thinking about you and we aren’t sleeping together, it’s time for me to let you go.”

Those are the words of famed marketer and businessman Dan Kennedy. This statement likely speaks volumes to those of us plagued with problem clients. You know the type — overly demanding complainers who undervalue your work and task you with projects that deplete you of energy, all while paying you less than adequate compensation. If this describes your clients, it’s time to clear your business of the negativity and attract a better category of clientele — but where do you start?

Keeping stressful clients on your books can have damning effects on your business and take a serious toll on your personal well-being. More and more entrepreneurs are finding themselves bogged down with the wrong kinds of clients because they don’t have a clear set of quality standards in place when determining who to work with. The reality is, it is entirely possible to only service upper echelon clients who provide projects that energize you while actually paying you what you’re worth.

So how do you transition from sucky clients to awesome ones and build your business exclusively around the kind of clients you love? It comes down to making two simple changes:

  1. Ensure you are catering to the correct audience
  2. Charge what you’re worth, NOT what you think your clients can afford.

Let’s examine both in detail and see why skipping these steps result in problem clients.

Serving the correct audience

One of the biggest reasons people end up with headache clients is that they cater to a generic audience, not their ideal client. This results in overwhelm and frustration in the client relationship, when the reality is that they were never a good fit for your company anyhow.

This is a key indicator that something is amiss in your marketing and you need to refine your message to speak only to your ideal client. To do this, try to imagine your perfect client. Who are they? What is important to them? What kind of speech resonates with them? Put yourself completely in their shoes and reverse-engineer your value proposition from their viewpoint so that your marketing message speaks directly to them.

By doing this, you’ll be able to limit your marketing to that particular avatar and disqualify those who aren’t a good fit before ever establishing a business relationship.

Charge what you are worth!

Have you ever noticed the clients who pay the least complain the most? That’s because when you price yourself below value, clients don’t view you as the cultivated professional that you are. Instead, they feel as if they could have hired any number of people to do your job — and it shows in their behavior!

When you raise your rates, two essential changes instantly occur:

  • Your client relationships drastically improve.

When you charge more, your clients are more apt to recognize your value and treat you accordingly. In this way, you effortlessly attract a better breed of clientele who, even if clamorous, will be on their best behavior with you because they understand your service is high-caliber.

  • Your quality output increases.

When you start getting paid what you’re actually worth, you’ll be inclined to up the quality of your product or service in an effort to meet your new level standard. Moreover, your confidence and peace of mind will improve as you remove the negative clients from your life and replace them with those who understand the value of what you do and are more than happy today to pay a premium for it.

Understanding the Significance of Perceived Value

While it may seem intimidating at first to think about charging higher rates, consider for a moment the concept of “perceived value.” People will always pay what they believe something is worth. This is true in all walks of life and is the reason many will pay significantly more for jewelry in a small turquoise box than they would for the exact same piece without it.

So in deciding to raise your rates, the first person who has to consider your offer worth more is you. Once you yourself are completely confident that the value you provide commands a higher price tag, the clients that are a good fit for you will naturally fall in line. Remember: perceived value dictates market value.

I call this the “Rolex Submariner” effect. When you deconstruct the manufacturing cost of a Rolex Submariner, it comes out to around $1000 to produce, yet the watch retails for over $8000. Rolex themselves dictate the market value and, in turn, people happily pay it because they perceive it as valuable. In understanding this, you’ll realize that you can command higher rates for your offerings, even if your quality is objectively the same as those who charge less – the market is willing to pay more for the sole reason you demand it!


When you cater your marketing message to your ideal clients and charge those clients exactly what you are worth, you’ll find the right kind of clients will naturally gravitate toward you. By making these two seemingly small changes, your client relationships will quickly become a source of joy, excitement and mutual respect rather than overwhelm, frustration and dread.