I’m evil with my SEO bait, RSS friendly headline. Really these are the three easiest ways to spot the tire kickers and looky-loos.
1. Tell ‘em it costs money. Easiest way to scare away new business.
- When you get the “how much will it cost?” question, give them an honest answer: Depends on what you want or need, but it could range from C to Z dollars.
- If a possible client does not realize that a 25-page custom website with a secure online store costs more than a 5-page static site with a blog, they are either going to require more hand holding or will fight you for every nickel and either way, not worth it.
- Public relations and social media are not free. Unless the client is willing to pay for the monitoring, research, campaign strategy, the project’s not worth it. When I read LazySusan Monthly or follow the editor of HummelzRHot.com on Twitter, it’s because it’s WORK.
2. Ask questions. I have a simple RFP response sheet of basic questions like this one about marketing goals, which often goes ignored.
- “Do you have a time line? A budget? Are you the final decision maker? May I see current marketing materials?” If the looky loo cannot give you basic information about their business or marketing goals, they are either not serious about this or unprepared to invest in a public relations or social media consultant.
- Heck asking for an email to follow up–after they called you, is a great way to kick a faker to the curb.
- Bonus: Asking questions goes a long way to showing that you are not in “snake oil” sales but a legitimate specialist. No questions of their own = red flag.
3. Refuse the spec work, the handshake, the commission. You run a business, not a charity.
- Show them samples from your portfolio, client references and referrals, white papers and case studies; give them a detailed, copyrighted proposal but not the full campaign complete with the “Just Do It” tagline or a free logo on spec. If they haven’t seen your online portfolio and profiles, another red flag.
- If the formal business proposal and contracts you submit scares them because you mean BUSINESS and they just wanted a handshake and an email, there may be a reason.
- More than just thud books of publicity placements, portfolio of design samples, I give prospective clients referrals from current and past clients, so they can learn about how the marketing and PR initiatives helped the business and added value to the company. But I do not work on a pay-for-play commission.Not only is it unethical, it’s unrealistic.
A successful publicity campaign can generate great clip numbers, but if there’s no strategy to tie the PR back to marketing back to sales and the bottom line it won’t matter. Bad products, concepts, timing, bad clients, can hurt even the most creative campaign, and you know.. NEW COKE.
Small businesses can’t always afford a big firm, or have different people for the myriad of marketing communications functions. My solo PR practice is based on helping these people and if the project requires, creating a larger virtual agency to get the job done.
Everyone wants something for nothing. But you hurt yourself and your business to give it all away, and can waste a lot of time on dead ends.
So if someone makes it through these steps, then “Congratulations,” you have a new client lead. FWIW.