Our thinking is our highest value product; we will not part with it without appropriate compensation. If we demonstrate that we do not value our thinking, our clients and prospects will not. Our paying clients can rest assured that our best minds remain focused on solving their problems and not the problems of those who have yet to hire us.
~ wwp ~
A pitch-based business development strategy devalues our thinking and emphasizes the more commoditized parts of our offering. If we do not value our thinking, the client will not. He uses many cues to try to ascertain our value. He looks for signs from us of how we value ourselves. How can we diagnose and prescribe for free one minute, and later ask for hundreds or thousands of dollars for similar thinking?
We must strive for a consistency in our behavior that says we know our own worth and we will not be led into selling ourselves short. We must address our own negligence in standards around this behavior, and simply agree that there is a line that separates proving our ability to solve the client’s problem from actually solving his problem. We shall not be lured into crossing over this line before we are paid.
This pervasive challenge of giving our thinking away for free is easily remedied. It is as simple as deciding we will no longer do it, writing this commitment into a policy statement, and then stating to the client with polite conviction, “It is our policy to not begin to solve our clients’ problems before we are engaged.”
It is irresponsible of us to use our identity as artists as an excuse for not forming business standards and policies. Clients lay policies on us as though they were law and we respond with preferences and inclinations. No—we must respond with policies of our own. We encounter far less client resistance when we preface our requirement with the words, “It is our policy that…”