A brilliant branding expert told me the other day, he loves supporting small businesses and solo professionals. He keeps his fees reasonable for them. And…they still say they can’t afford his help.

Maybe you’ve run into the same thing; this is a familiar story.

A web designer creates a jump-start package. Basic sites at bargain rates for business owners starting out and sticking to a budget.

A marketing consultant sets up turn-key packages for people who don’t want to spend much money getting their message to their market.

A speaker offers a low-cost group program for entrepreneurs who won’t invest in one-on-one coaching to develop a talk and a way to talk that will pull in clients.

Results? Those business owners who need a jump-start complain. The lower-cost websites are still too expensive.

People who don’t want to spend much money getting their message to their market actually won’t spend any money getting their message to their market.

And the entrepreneurs who won’t invest in one-on-one coaching to help them attract new clients? Turns out they won’t invest in less costly group programs either.

What are we supposed to do to bring in the business?

The fancy-pants online business gurus push the Premium line–you should concentrate on selling high-end products and services to people who will gladly pay for luxury items or concierge service or platinum programs. The free-spenders supposedly can’t wait to pull out their credit cards and hand them over to you.

But what about all those people who won’t gladly pay for the top-shelf goods and services? Who’s supposed to serve them?

Don’t they have value, those people who aren’t making the big bucks (yet)? Shouldn’t there be something at a price point they can manage? Especially when it comes to the kind of training and coaching that will help them get to that next level so they can pop for the platinum experience.

Well yes, but it turns out there’s a catch. And I’m dying to hear how this plays out in your business.

The stories at the top of this article are real. Good-hearted professionals go out of their way to accommodate the budget-conscious among their potential clients. Only to find that the budget-conscious still say: “I can’t afford it.” “I want to, but I’m paying for [fill in the blank].” Or…“Maybe I can do that after I get more clients.” (Never mind that they’re refusing to invest in the very things that will get them more clients!)

It could be a gender thing. One service professional told me she doesn’t get nearly the poor-mouth push-back from businessMEN. It’s the women who tell her (over and over and over) that they’re too broke to get the help their business needs.

Or maybe it’s a question of fishing in the right pond. If you associate mainly with people who are already fairly successful, it should be easier to connect with customers who have money to spend. It’s bound to be tougher if you network with newbies. Or with people who really have a hobby they’re calling a business.

Perhaps it’s all about your money mindset. How much you value yourself and your work. And the resulting message you’re sending out into the Universe.

Or it might be that those fancy-pants online business gurus are right; we should forget about even trying to serve anyone other than platinum-level clients eager to pay for your best and most expensive work.

I’m curious. How does “I can’t afford it” show up in your quest for clients and customers? And how have you handled it?

Do you find a way to serve some at a less-than-premium price? A way that works for them and for you? Or do you blow those people off and focus on folks with more money to spend?

Post a comment below and fill is in … I know a branding expert, a web designer, and a whole slew of coaches who would love to hear your secret.