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 Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.