No Longer the Go-To-Girl for Free Ideas
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree of Contrast.
Iâ€™ve been taking my intention very seriouslyâ€”not Â to give unpaid advice. Itâ€™s saving me some valuable time, especially in the area of screwed up accounts and business transactions where Iâ€™m the customer Â and normally Â give feedback. Places where you donâ€™t normally think of feedback as an unpaid professional advice.
Hereâ€™s a perfect example. A month ago, I heard an impressive tele-conference Â that ended with a pitch for an online product Â with some Â similarities Â to something Â Iâ€™m launching. I was curious about how other Â people structure their online products and how mine would hold up against the industry standard, so I ordered the speakerâ€™s product. Regularly $250 but on sale for $89 but if youâ€™re on the special invitation list and listening to this conference call, then you can get it for only $59.99, tonight only! (Yeah, whatever.) Â But I needed a comparison Â point Â for my product, so I considered it educational and hoped I learned something useful.
It was a basic re-hash of her tele-conference Â with A LOT of blanks to fill in. I was already doing everything she Â recommended, and doing it successfully. Â There was only one item in it that was new and meaningful, but the biggest advantage was to see that my product was exponentially more Â informative. So buying it served the purpose Iâ€™d intended, and then some.
Yesterday, the day after I received the last of her updated Â material Â to me, she sent me an email saying Â her product hadnâ€™t worked for me and I probably wanted to know why and that she had known it wouldnâ€™t work for me. However, she had another product for $79 that would fix that!
Okay, Iâ€™m paraphrasing, but only slightly. The way her email read, she knew her product was defective and that I was Â wasting Â my Â money. Â She Â did Â specifically Â say Â sheâ€™d known it wouldnâ€™t work.
I donâ€™t think thatâ€™s what she meant Â to say. I could have responded in two ways.
I could have emailed back and told her that her email could be taken the wrong way and that it was a huge turnoff to customers who might be Â interested in buying her other products Â except Â that Â now weÂ know Â she Â believes them to be defective or useless. I could even have made suggestions for which sentences to fix that had the ambiguous wording so she would be held up as an example of Â incredibly Â bad Â marketing Â copy. Â Yeah, Â I Â could Â have been â€œhelpful.â€
I could have emailed back as an irate customer Â and questioned Â her Â ethics Â of Â selling Â products Â she Â â€œknewâ€ wouldnâ€™t Â work. Â Bitchy, Â but Â still Â helpful Â in Â making Â her aware of the problem.
My fingers Â were already on the keyboard Â to do the former, since I do like some of her other work. Then it hit me.
â€œSheâ€™s not paying Â you Â for your Â advice.â€ Â Oh. Â Yeah.
â€œItâ€™s not your job to give her the solution to her problem.â€
The email I was about to send her was the same as might be written for someone paying $300 for me to look over Â a marketing Â campaign Â and make Â suggestions. Â She wasnâ€™t paying me to do that. The Â kind of info I could have given her would have saved her from some Â upset customers Â and Â brought Â in Â additional Â income Â over Â and above any consulting fees.
But she doesnâ€™t give away her products and services for free, and I was about to give her a big freebie instead of spending that time on my own products and services.
The same Â applies Â to any Â customer Â service Â problem where Iâ€™m the customer. I can give them lots of feedback, but are they paying me for it? Why would I want to take their survey to tell them how to improve their Â products when theyâ€™re not doing anything to fix their problem with the product Iâ€™ve already bought? And honestly, the same applies toÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â theÂ Â Â Â Â Â distinct-non-customer Â Â Â Â Â yesterday Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â who emailed me a list of questions to answer in paragraph format, for free, for his sonâ€™s history paper and assumed Iâ€™d do all the research for him and send it to him.
Not Â that Â I Â wonâ€™t Â give Â feedback Â ever Â or Â help Â my friends, but this is a drastic pruning effect for me when I no longer provide solutions and ideas for free. I think this little experiment will continue to be very interesting.