Should I Charge for That?
The following post is based on a true story. Some details have been withheld and names have been changed to respect the privacy of the subject.
“Money grubbing corporations,” she uttered with a slightly raised fist as she raged against modern corporate capitalism. Her anger was palpable making her appear larger than her mere 5 feet. Her graying hair softly bounced from side to side as her body communicated her disgust that someone would dare want to profit from her life’s work.
Mrs. Teague had been dedicated to her profession for nearly half a century. She had years of research and information meticulously cataloged in PDF files. She wanted to develop a website and provide the information “to the people” for free. Many organizations in her industry would have gladly taken her research and offered it to their millions of buyers and subscribers but Mrs. Teague refused, knowing they would sell rather than give away the information.
I listened politely, nodding at the appropriate moments. The years faded away as she talked and I pictured her as a young woman with long dark hair with beads around her neck protesting against an evil government. I fought back a smile not wanting to appear disrespectful, returning my attention to her present diatribe.
Like so many I have met, Mrs. Teague had definite ideas about money and profit. Her work, in her mind was valuable but to assign a price tag would be blasphemous. She had accumulated it in the course of her work, and as such it was created for “free” and should be offered for the same price. Yet, she would need a site that not only housed the information but a searchable database. She would also need to market the site so that “the people” could find it and access the free information. None of that would be free. She wanted to spend very little money to offer it, did not want any contact information on the site, and wanted no questions or follow up discussion from those who downloaded the information. She simply wanted people to come, download what they needed and go away.
The “money grubbing” organizations in her niche offered people a variety of services and support in addition to some free information. They charged a fee but they also provided something in return. Mrs. Teague failed to make the connection and simply saw profiting as evil. Her time and expertise in collecting the data would indeed be valuable to users, who would gladly pay to access already bundled information that would have taken them a huge amount of time and effort to gather on their own.
So, was Mrs. Teague wrong in wanting to give the information away? What would you have advised?
In the next post we’ll dig a little deeper into our attitudes about money and discuss the options in this scenario. Please join the discussion by adding your comments below.
In Search of the Big Green Line
Fidelity Investments “Turn Here” campaign shows a green line that investors follow to stay on track. You can watch the video here: Fidelity | Turn Here. The core message of the commercials is that Fidelity gives you the direction to reach your goals. I’m sure that there are days when many of us have longed for a green line that carefully guides us down the path, telling us when to stay straight and when to turn.
In business the path is a never ending hallway with doors on each side that lead to yet another hallway with more doors. A big green line would handily tell us which door to pick on any given day and avoid the occasional stumbles we have when we make the wrong choice.
If only life were that easy. We can however, map out a journey that will keep us on the right track to our personal and professional goals. Before you make your line you need a very clear starting and ending point. It sounds simplistic but far too many businesses have murky goals such as “be profitable,” or “success,” and even cloudier ideas about how they will get there. [Note: Your target market is NOT everyone with a pulse!]
You should have a concrete destination that allows you to focus in on it with laser sharp clarity. Once you know where you’re headed, you can begin to detail how you will get there, the length of time it will take and who can help you reach the destination.
The “who” of your equation should include your target market, your organization (do you have the right people in the right positions to get you where you need to go?) mentors, advisors and experts. With these details in place you can focus on the how, what and when of your journey. How will you move from start point to destination? What tactics align with your strategy? When will you begin and how long will you remain at each stop along the way?
The clearer you are about where you want to go, the easier it will be to draw your own line. And like every good plan, you should periodically check and modify as needed.
So where will your green line take you? Feel free to share your goals in the comments and if you need help with your destination strategy let me know.
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Is it the Economy…or is it YOU?
Economic challenges have dominated news headlines for much of the past three years. While the US has struggled with recession and a tepid, often faltering recovery, other countries have also grappled with high taxes, high unemployment and turbulent markets. So without surprise, I hear from professionals in and outside of the US about how the economy is impacting their job, or business. After listening to story after story about how the bad economy:
- Prevents them from getting a job
- Is keeping them in a job they hate
- Is making it impossible to get new business
- Has caused their business to lose money
- Is causing their customers to spend less?
I have concluded that they are all wrong. If at this point you’re ready to throw something at me, hang on and let me explain.
In each case, as I dig deeper, and ask questions there is always a solution that has nothing to do with the economy. The economy serves as an easy scape goat, temporarily relieving us of the hard work of looking at our mindset and actions.
If you show up day after day to a job you hate/have outgrown/abuses you but you have taken no steps to change your situation, is it the economy or is it you?
If your business plan depended on one big client with no consistent marketing, is it the economy or is it you?
I am not in any way diminishing the tough times many are facing. Hey, I’ve been there too, disillusioned, discouraged and flat out busted. So I know from personal and professional experience that it is far more productive to focus on what you can do to change your circumstances, rather than being a victim of the economy. You may be serving a market that is drying up, or work in an industry that is rampant with downsizing but how you react to those changes is in your control.
Today, if the media began reporting every day that there is world peace and the economy is booming everywhere, how would it change your outlook? Would you take action to leave a job you hate? Would you confidently market your business because you know your customers are once again buying? Why not take those proactive steps today?
If your market is dead, find a new market or a gap that allows you to solve their current problems. If your business model requires you to give all of your time to one client, change your model or change your offering. Hate your job? Research and act upon your options. Do what you need to develop yourself so that you can effectively seek a better job.
The economy is always going to experience highs and lows. However, having a good solid plan and making good choices will help you to weather the ups and downs. It is painful to admit that we are where we are because of our choices, but once faced, we can change it. Isn’t that a brighter proposition than blaming forces beyond your control?
So tell me now that you are firmly back in the driver’s seat, where are you headed?
Can’t Buy My Love in 140 Characters – Like, Friend and Trust in the Online World
Relationships were a topic of discussion on this weeks #solopr chat. From how we define friends and vet subcontractors to determining the right circles on Google Plus, there is clearly a need for constant evaluation and clarity about our online interactions. At the core of any discussion about relationships is trust. How much I trust you will not only determine the breadth of our relationship but what and how much I share with you. I may “like” you but not “friend” you, and I may +1 you but not add you to a trusted list of people I refer to clients.
Trust is not freely given but earned. In our fast moving world of tweets and shares, many have fallen into the trap of believing that this path has a shortcut in a digitally connected world. Let me assure you that there is no shortcut to earning trust and building real relationships. To earn trust you have to show yourself trustworthy and that is not accomplished in a single 140 character missive or Facebook update.
As professionals, we should work to earn trust and guard it passionately once earned. After all, trust directly impacts our credibility, reputation and influence, and that ultimately impacts the trajectory of our businesses and careers. Trust can earn you a seat at the table and treating it lightly can lose it just as quickly. So, it’s puzzling to me why many are squandering the opportunity to earn trust and build sustainable relationships.
The seeds of a relationship are planted from the very first impression. Online we don’t have the benefit of a full presentation of body language to aid a first impression so we are left with our words and actions. Consider then how critical it is that we are mindful and purposeful with both, especially in the course of doing business.
There are those who dismiss the “small talk” that perpetuates social media preferring to get to the point and short circuit the unessential. Yet it is often the small talk that holds clues that allow you to thoughtfully develop relationships. Admittedly, it may not be sexy or fast paced but human relationships cannot be automated.
You want to get your news covered or your expert client quoted? Pay attention to the details and don’t treat the people who can get you to your goal like interchangeable tokens on a monopoly board. Put the work in to discover who they are, what they cover and how YOU can help them. Spend the time to craft a personalized, targeted pitch rather than resorting to a “quantity” mentality that has you blasting out your news to a random list.
Earning trust is well worth the effort and will reward you with richer personal and professional relationships that will yield bountiful results. Isn’t it worth it to take time to show and prove that you are a professional?
Related articles and Resources
- Either they trust you or they don’t (drewsmarketingminute.com)
- Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust
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