December 9th, 2008
Clients who don’t know what they want can chew up countless hours of your time with exploratory emails, phone calls, meetings, and requests for more details if you let them. Ditto for blood-sucking zombies who milk you for free advice but have no intention of ever hiring you. Here are some suggestions for “training” indecisive clients and weeding out the bloodsuckers:
Cap getting-to-know-me meetings. Bloodsuckers are fans of meetings with agendas like “let’s spend the next four hours talking about how you’d execute our project were we to actually offer it to you.” For this reason, I have a rule about complimentary getting-to-know-me meetings: One hour max is all you get — by bat phone, webcam, or in the flesh — and then I’m billing you for it. Likewise, I don’t dress, drive, and give up my morning for just anyone. Unless there’s big money, repeat business, or real PIE potential, I phone it in.
Use templates. Although I have a bio and work samples on my website, I still need to email interested clients my references, additional samples, and a more detailed bio or resume from time to time. The materials I send vary wildly, depending on whether I’m talking to an arts organization that wants me to teach, a potential copywriting client, or a news website that wants an article written. Rather than reinvent the wheel each time, I have a nice collection of templates I employ: ShamelessInstructorPromo.doc, Fortune500Bait.doc, and MediaWhore.doc.
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