Lessons from the Trenches for Service Businesses

Link to the other Marketing Video: http://youtu.be/oxm-MI07t9E
I had a client in a competitive industry that inquired about a content marketing strategy. This included creating “stealth” sites, an article marketing campaign, blogging, video marketing, press releases, opt-in reports, and a social marketing component.

First, I talked with them several times over the phone to establish their expectations to see if we were a match. We talked about the effectiveness of their current marketing efforts; what worked and what didn’t.

Next, I reviewed their current site and did keyword and niche research to discover the best way to approach the content marketing strategy and reach their potential clients.

Finally, I prepared a proposal for services.

  • At the presentation they liked everything that was offered:
  • They understood the required term of the contract
  • They appreciated that all activity would be track-able so they could see what we were doing (accountability)
  • They understood that my team would be working for them
  • They were excited about the “evergreen” aspect of online marketing. Once it’s out there, it’s out there and will continue to work for you long past they day you write the check for the services.

They liked all of this.

The part they didn’t “love”…the price.

Although it was competitive for industry standards and in line with their marketing budget, someone had told them that they could have it done for a fraction of the cost.

They asked me if I would consider reducing my fee.

Now, this is always a sticky point in a service business, right? You start to wonder, “Gee, maybe I am charging too much…am I worth it?”

So what do you do? Do you get offended? Do you start to defend your value? Do you quickly adjust your fee to get the work?

Well, I took a deep breath. I knew that I carefully considered all aspects of the proposal when it was initially prepared. Often, the businesses we serve don’t always fully understand what it is we do with online marketing and more importantly how much time it actually takes. And, although the prospect I was talking with seemed to have the understanding there was something missing.

In this case, there was no reason to reduce the fee for the level of services offered. So, I did this:

  1. Asked if I didn’t fully explain something
  2. Offered to work within their budget with a scaled down version to implement in phases
  3. Asked if there was anybody else involved in the decision making process

The result:

  1. They fully understood the marketing strategy and believed it was exactly what they needed, and believed that it would produce the kind of traffic they required.
  2. They didn’t want a scaled-down version. They understood how all components worked together. They believed that my team was capable of delivering on our guarantee of traffic numbers (I guaranteed a certain amount of traffic within that time frame; if not achieved, then we would continue at no additional cost until those numbers were reached).
  3. Yes…there was another person involved in the decision (indirectly) and they were not involved in the business.

What I discovered was that there was a spouse that was not supportive of the business or the prospect (marital issues). Turns out, there was the possibility that the prospects funds were going to change in the near future!

So, had I immediately changed my well thought-out proposal for the services because of a bruised ego or self doubt, I would have been giving away a very good service at a deep discount for a reason that had nothing to do with business or with the quality of the service.

That’s a no-win situation all around.

By taking the time to understand why there was resistance, I discovered the information I needed to make a good business decision and stick with my initial proposal.

And now?

The client still contacts me occasionally as personal and business issues are being resolved. At some point in the future, when it’s right for both of us, we may end up doing business together.

The lesson: Always find out why you are getting a “no” to your proposal. Know which questions to ask to get the best answers. You can only make smart business decisions (for you and your client) when you have the right information.

Learn More:

Rejection Doesn’t Always Mean Failure: What to do with NO

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