Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Too Cheap For Social Media: A Rant

I enjoy helping others. It's great to see others get ahead. Yet, just like anyone else, I get frazzled when people take up time in my busy day and have no qualms about wasting my hours on them.

Here’s the deal: Interested party (much of the time they find me via a social network) contacts me about creating strategy for them (or as they call it "social media"). Sometimes a budget is discussed, usually a very small amount of money. Let’s say it’s about equal to a few nights at a halfway decent hotel near the California coast. 

We may speak via phone or Skype or we may email back and forth. In total, the conversation accounts for one to one and a half hours. I then take all I've learned directly from the client and “make the rounds”; scoping out the website and any social networking accounts or pages, and if they have a blog, I'll analyze that too. The initial overview can take 45 minutes to an hour. 

I need to quickly scan and get some initial thoughts on what is lacking, what needs improvement, what looks great already and what the potential is. I also need to check for consistency and get a feel for the brand and what it is saying to consumers. During that time a few initial ideas will pop into my head. However, the big question: Is this someone I truly can help with my expertise?

From there, I’ll prepare a formal proposal. Since I do want to land the project I may discount my pricing a bit to make the quote more attractive. What I WON’T put in the proposal are ideas surrounding the strategy; that would be like giving the store away. A proposal that's geared towards strategically  increasing awareness for a small business can take about one hour to pull together. 

The proposal is emailed and I wait. Sometimes it's a day, sometimes three or four days. At some point the small business owner then writes back and says “No; I really can't afford this right now but it sounds really good.” Or "Not able to swing it; maybe in six months or so we can talk."


Sigh. Why bother contacting me in the first place and waste several hours of my time if you have no plans to hire me (or anyone else)? My business suffers by not earning a dime during those hours. Am I cursed with being too kind and patient with these people?  

And the benefit of all this to the small business? They remain the same with their lackluster social media efforts and continue to wonder why social media doesn’t work for them. No one with expertise is there to show them the way. That's their choice.

So here’s my frustration: While I am willing to help small businesses get ahead, they don’t want to help themselves if it involves handing over any currency.

You remember the old expression “You have to spend money to make money”? It’s true. You do.

The majority of my business comes from well-established businesses. And I’m thankful for that. However, my heart is with the start-ups, the mom and pops, the struggling businesses, the ones who really need the support to get where they want to go.

What's more important to you, the small business owner: A short vacation or getting the proper tools you need to grow your business so that you can afford to take longer vacations in the future?

On an ending note: Not trying to be cruel here and not trying to anger anyone. I’d just like small business owners to know how it is on my end. I am strongly leaning towards no longer taking on potential small business clients in the future because of the time spent. What would YOU do?

Freddy Fender sang about time wasted in his 1970’s hit (a song he initially recorded in the late 1950's) which he also happened to write (see video below). If you are serious about making better use of your social media time, please stop by our website, or stop by on TwitterFacebook, or Google+  


    





6 comments:

Coffee Lady said...

Allot 2 hours a month for a 1 small business, for 1 free appraisal, whether they sign or not.

or

just Start charging for your time, PERIOD! A worker is due his pay. These days, nothing is for free. That would bug me as well.



Stacey Mayer said...

1. Charge for your consultation; $200 for small business, but you have only a limited number of those available per month/year..
2. Create a starter package with a non-negotiable fee.
3. Differentiate your normal process and results packages, so small businesses will see it's not a simply repackaging your normal Cadillac service into a shorter period of time.
4. Print your packages out and present in a gorgeous folder.

Many budgets are suddenly expanded when they see what they really want is offered only in the other packages. :)

Good luck!

Gerry Wendel said...

Great ideas! Thanks so much. Have a lot to think about now!

Kevin Knauss said...

Money is money from a small or large company, but I feel your pain. I can no longer take the time to work up individual quotes and meet with person for the commissions that are paid and those who are just window shopping. I'll talk on the phone, send an e-mail link to a quote or politely nudge them to start an application on-line.

It might take some time up front for you, but perhaps you could put together an on-line survey, test, questionnaire for small biz prospects to fill out. If they are able to get through the survey of needs (aka test of intentions) then maybe they are a legit client. This also gives you the background info. for you to make a quick quote in your head.

Davina K. Brewer said...

Found this saved in Pocket, meant to comment sooner. I so could have written this - just toss in design, branding, imaging, PR and essentially all strategic business communication. Like you Gerry, I feel for SMB, want to see the little guy do well and hate seeing them waste $$ on all the things they do that won't get them anywhere. Sigh.

As to what you can do, Stacey had some great suggestions. I have a Coffee Consult policy on my blog, and I make sure it's read before we go anywhere. There has to be something mutually beneficial beyond the 'it could be in your portfolio' or a 'someday referral' carrot. Everything I do from a corporate identity package to the 'simplest' email has great value. If others don't see it as worth their investment, I just can't make them mine. FWIW.

Scousejournalist said...

I agree with the comments on here that you should charge for your hours in principle but you've created an initial paywall that will put off potential SMB customers who usually aren't really sure what they're after.

You've got to give them something for free to begin with to demonstrate your value proposition. (Freemium'ish model)

The problem in my opinion is how do you cost effectively demonstrate the value proposition? A free 30minute phone consultation talking broadly about their pinpoints and goals seems to be enough.


I'd make your "free" time paid for in another way. Have referrals as a form of payment.

"I'll give you a free 30 minute consultation if you follow me on social media and endorse me on Linked In". The psychological laws of reciprocation should usually get this kind of cooperation.

If the currency is time and not money. You should exchange some of yours for theirs. If they won't do that then they're not a client worth helping.