I spend almost as much time seeking new clients as I do working with them. Any small business owner or consultant will tell you that finding the next client, customer, or project involves effort and time.
I frequently search Craigslist for business owners seeking writing and/or marketing services, and I respond to them in a professional manner, explaining who I am and offering a free customized proposal.
(Pictured at left: Two of the most influential business owners meet in a professional manner, by Joi)
The problem with Craigslist is that some posters try to take advantage of people that respond to their ads.
Yesterday, I contacted Sue, who runs Powerplaygaming.net, the website for a family-owned gaming center in New Jersey. In her ad, which you can read on Craigslist, Sue seeks “unique sales ideas – lower the cost the better!”. She is “willing to pay for your time and the idea”, is an “honest salesperson and business owner”, and “will pay an appropriate amount based on the idea”.
I actually live really close to Sue’s business, and I offered to meet with her so that we could discuss her business in person. I told her that I would create a free proposal that addresses her specific needs.
“If I could afford to hire a consultant I wouldn’t be posting an ad on craigslist,” wrote Sue, in response to my initial e-mail. “If you want to present an idea to me here is my website: www.powerplaygaming.net.”
Of course, I would love to offer her my ideas, which would including registering for a Twitter account, creating a Facebook fan page, blogging about all the fun events that take place at Power Play Gaming, drafting a press release and sending it to local newspaper editors and bloggers, connecting with online gaming forums, and building a fan base by offering free teaser events at her location. None of these ideas would cost her any money.
I did not want to offer Sue my ideas because I knew that she was trying to take advantage of creative hopefuls. “How is any professional supposed to know that you will compensate them for their ideas?” I asked. “Creativity doesn’t come cheap!”
How did Sue respond?
“Just so you know, creativity actually CAN come cheap – I have used ideas from 10 and 12 yr olds and they have increased my business and I have used ideas in the past from College students and HS students and paid them in time to play, WOW!
(Pictured at right: Children have great ideas, by Pink Sherbet Photography)
That’s the reason I am posting again because I am ready to get more ideas. Last night I received about 15 ideas and will put 3 into place and will actually pay them. OMG, I actually am keeping my word!
If you had responded with something more positive than ‘creativity doesn’t come cheap’ you might have piqued my interest. Have a great day and if you want to increase your business I have a suggestion…stop emailing me and spend time on someone that is actually interested in what you have to offer.”
If you want to succeed in the business world, you can use Sue’s strategy and take advantage of 10-year-old children. Or, you can value services provided by creative professionals, keeping an open mind when they offer to meet with you and draft a personalized proposal for you free of charge, without any obligation.