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Success in Hard Times: Play to Your Minimalist Strength.
Your competitors have big offices and corporate jets. You toil in a tiny room at home next to the cat's liter box. You work for a pittance and, guess what, your client's love you for it.
As a publicist it is my job to get my clients positive coverage in the media. I do this through email contacts, phone calls and in-person meetings. I do it all from a room in my home in rural New York.
Very simply, I subscribe to the same databases composed of journalists and editors that the big Madison Avenue P.R. agencies use, but I suffer none of their overhead--and that is my greatest sales argument.
Because I am lean, but not mean, I can charge my clients less than 1/3 what the agencies do and deliver the same, if not a better product.
Ten years ago this could not have been the case. Clients wanted a big prestigious agency and they were willing to pay a great sum for it. As everyone knows, times have changed.
Today your apparent weakness may be your biggest strength. You deliver better service at much less cost. Not only that, but when a client calls, they reach you--not a kid out of school whose services are being marked up at least eight times.
It is apparent, as a sole proprietor, that you take pride in your work. Yes, this may mean weekends or nights glued to the office--but at least the office is near the kitchen and you can always take a coffee break.
As far as those in-person meetings go, I have never had a turn down for suggesting the local Starbucks.
The key is that your results are the product, not your lobby, your conference tables or your designer suits. Yes, there are clients who will disagree but perhaps they are not the clients you wanted in the first place.
A smart client knows that the sole proprietor lives to deliver results not endless meetings. This not only applies to what you deliver, it applies to how you win your clients in the first place. The fact that you don't have to commute to an office not only saves you money but it frees up time for you to offer your services on your own schedule by phone or Internet.
The bottom line is that you won't have to spend endless hours and dollars trying to look bigger than you are. That is the kind of candor that many clients appreciate. All the glitz and luster associated with many professions has given way to the fact that we all have to interact with today's economy. Your client knows this and he or she will likely respect the fact that you are a down to earth practitioner, not looking down from the lofty air.
There is one way to find out if my assertions work for you.
Either continue to use your same marketing message or try a new one emphasizing that you work from home and pass the savings on to your clients.
For me, taking on the big guys gives me great pleasure. I have worked in large bureaucracies and I know how they rarely spawn a creative idea. Thank goodness my clients know that too.
If you think of your office at home as a box, it's time to go home, get inside the box and think small again.
Learn more about the author, Richard Berman.
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