Our Guest blogger is Danny Schuman, Founder of Twist Your Thinking, and author of the #1 bestseller: The Worst Business Model in the World: A New Kind of Guide for a New Kind of Entrepreneur.
Danny is a brand storyteller extraordinaire (I said that, Danny is much more humble).
Danny worked as Group Creative Director and helped build iconic brands like Quaker Oatmeal, Coors Light, and Gatorade. As Danny tells it, “Michael Jordan and I started working on the Gatorade brand on the same day and I survived 10 years of making commercials with him. He called me “Peanut Butter Jelly Boy,” but that’s a story for another time.”
In this post Danny asks…
In a Service Business, should you give away anything for free?
In businesses where you’re selling your brainpower and expertise, and the output that results can be subjective, should you ever work for free?
a) Of course not, never!
b) Absolutely, it’s a necessity for my business
c) Depends on the situation
d) All of the above
I’m in the d) camp. I like the flexibility of that answer because it’s never an easy question.
Some may think it’s easy: Don’t do it. Ever ever ever.
But everybody does it.
Entrepreneurs have to do it more than they like, whether they’re newbies on their own or veterans who’ve been in business for decades.
People in the corporate world do it too, buying potential clients lunch or drinks and dispensing free (and valuable!) advice to woo or impress. They “audition” by doing work or projects on a small scale to show a potential client what they can do.
They may deny it, but even the most adamant “a) Of course not, never!” people have worked for free.
So how do you know when to say Yes to giving away your brilliance?
In my previous business, advertising, potential clients have a good familiarity of how the business works, so agencies have been giving away work for decades in order to win clients over. BAD MODEL. They put themselves through long, painful, drawn-out pitches where they give away almost unlimited amounts of free work in the hopes of winning some business. Clients pick a winner based on the work presented to them, and allegedly, the best work wins. Except for the times when the client is friends with the agency President, which is often. Did I mention it’s a bad model?
In my current business, Professional Coaching, where people aren’t clear about how the service actually works, giving away your brilliance can be brilliant. Most people have heard of Professional Coaching but aren’t sure about how it actually works and what you get out of it.
I love offering a free sample coaching session to anyone who’s interested. It’s easy to talk to potential clients about the logistical aspects of a coaching experience–cost, timing, cadence, etc.—until I’m blue in the face. But when I give them the experience, let them live it, coach their socks off and actually show them what it can feel like, light bulbs go off, pulses race, and I can feel their excitement and engagement. For those folks, sampling—giving a taste—is hugely effective, because I’m giving them a great experience.
Costco has this figured out. Just a little yummy sample can do the trick.
The biggest knee-jerk negative reaction to giving away your product or service is that you’re devaluing your expertise. And while that may seem true on the surface, if you give something away to get someone to understand the value and give them the experience of how great it can be, then it’s the greatest sales tool in the world.
What can you offer that will help people feel what it’s like to work with you and benefit from your talents, without giving away the store? What piece, glimpse, sneak preview, yummy little taste would be best? Think about it, offer it up, flash your brilliance, and get hired.