Jul 16

Note to Companies: Stop Asking Me for Free Marketing Advice

So I’m freelance, and I’m starting to line up clients but it’s going a little slow.

This DOES NOT mean that I am willing to give up free advice on social media, website architecture, SEO, SEM, copywriting, blogging or anything of that nature. I spent two years perfecting a layout to sell cars online for BMW of Austin. I spent one year as an Ecommerce Consultant for Volusion, and one year as their internet marketing blogger. This means I have a total of four years understanding what does and does not sell on the internet.

You don’t ask lawyers for free legal advice, or doctors for free medical advice. You pay them for a consultation. This is how commerce works and what allows us to pay our bills. If I give one company free advice, it is not fair to my paying customers.

Please do not take this personally. I just need to earn a living just like everyone else.

  • http://www.pjbrunet.com/ PJ Brunet

    There was a time you could push nerds around, but times have changed, now we rule the world 😉

  • http://www.scribkin.com J. Phil

    Hear, hear! If I ever hit upon a successful marketing strategy or even something ‘that works’ for me, and perhaps provides an income, I’m right there with you. In the mean time, though, as I am still learning about this business and social media in general, I’m not being too careful about what advice I give out.

    But I totally agree with you wanting to own the fruits of your own labor. I think that goes for most people.

  • http://melle.ca Melanie Baker

    Actually, everyone asks doctors, lawyers, etc. for free advice. It’s just that the ones who want to have any kind of career don’t just hand it out like candy. :)

    I say be flattered that people are finally getting that marketers are in the league of other professions… and continue to say no unless there’s a cheque attached.

    Melanie Bakers last blog post..“Fame! I’m gonna live foreeeeevah!”

  • http://lisacreechbledsoe.com Lisa Creech Bledsoe

    It’s a bit of a balancing act, isn’t it? You want to give people enough to understand what you’re offering, without giving away the store. I have one client who consistently abuses this with frequent phone calls for free advice, etc, but for the most part other business people are starting to get it. It can run the other way, too. I had one vendor recently who said they would bill me for generating a (pretty simple, pretty standard) proposal for some work I wanted them to do. I simply went to another vendor.

  • http://www.strategystew.com Ivana Taylor

    Your post made me think of something else…in what ways do you give your clients a taste of the experience of working with you?

    If food companies give samples, and software has demos…what do marketing consultants have?

  • http://BusinessBloggingPros.Typepad.com Dave

    I find the exact opposite approach is working for me. By sharing my knowledge freely, people quickly learn first-hand that I am an ‘expert’ and freely share my name with others. Sharing freely has resulted in numerous speaking gigs – which always results in new clients.

    The key here is that I could not possibly tell someone **everything* I know – there just isn’t time and they could never absorb it all anyway.

    Daves last blog post..July 21, 2008 Free Blogging Seminar

  • http://www.stalelife.com Joe Doyle

    And then there’s all those pesky NFPs.

  • http://www.research2zero.com Kris Tuttle

    It’s a tricky balance. I certainly feel your pain when I think back to some situations where we provided a great deal of insight over multiple meetings because we were trying to be helpful and were expecting to get something out of it. Then nothing.

    Generally I’m willing to do upfront meetings locally or on the phone at no charge but have learned to be careful not to give away the store.

    When travel is required I’ve tried to come up with some way for there to be skin in the game so that it’s fair. Typically if travel costs are paid for by the prospect I’m happy to include the free day of consulting if it’s a project I want to do and I trust the people.

    The other deal is to do everything free upfront on the condition that there will be an engagement forthcoming. However if there isn’t one the client agrees to pay travel and out of pocket expenses plus an agreed upon fee for the upfront work.

    These have generally worked. When they have not I often think it’s a case where I probably would have wasted precious time on something that wouldn’t help build our company.

  • http://michellesblog.net Michelle

    I do give free advice. I give TOO MUCH free advice. Hugh actually got mad at me because I don’t look out for myself.

    I appreciate the bites of wisdom, but I do have to consider my living. I wrote this post specifically to send to a company that constantly asks my opinion, offers me favors, and then does not deliver.

  • http://www.sitdownsellup.com/pj/ PJ Brunet

    One way to work it, charge a monthly rate and host the website, that way you can see your free advice as a way to keep the monthly payments coming in.

    If you want to offer hosting but don’t know how, let me know, maybe we can work something out.