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How Not To Give Away The Farm - Business Ethics


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#1 cre8pc

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Posted 08 October 2006 - 04:34 PM

Things that have come up lately in discussions with people, and I thought the concerns were worth sharing here:

All business ethics oriented.

1. When you give advice to someone, for free, and they turn around and use it for their own purposes, such as to make themselves look good at their job, do you keep giving the information? (Some people don't buy software manuals for example. They come to forums, asking how to use something, so their employers think they had this knowledge.)

2. If you provide a service, as a consultant for example, and you know the company didn't offer your service before, but now that they saw how you do it, they no longer use you and do it themselves, does the consultant have any recourse? Is there a way to prevent this from happening?

I'm sure there are others...but lately, business ethics has been a topic at home. Another one:

3. What if your boss asks you to train your replacement, who is in India? (American companies are outsourcing.) Is this ethical?

#2 rmccarley

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Posted 08 October 2006 - 06:33 PM

1. I don't hire someone for their knowledge but for their ability. For example I am a lousy programmer but I know plenty of programmers so I sell the service. I am just reselling/outsourcing/subcontracting and there is nothing wrong with that. Now if I said something like "inhouse programers" that would be a lie and unethical. The person taking credit for info *found* in a forum...? Well, they should say they looked it up. It is unethical to pretend they knew the answer all along. But this isn't grounds for termination or anything just a way for them to look really dumb when they get caught (which they will).

2. That is the danger of consulting consultants (yes, some companies may branch out into consulting after you work for them but that is less likely). The only way to prevent this is to have them sign NDA''s or noncompete agreements. Yes, it is slimey to do this. Yes there are people that hire consultants to learn their skills and resell them - watch out!

3. It is ethical. You are on the company dime and they can use you for what they want even if that means taking out trash or training your overseas employee. I do question the wisdom of this but that would be best in another thread (Would you sabatage your employer if...). You can quit or refuse the work which will probably lead to an earlier termination - you aren't helpless. But I have to wonder if you were getting a promotion and had to train a replacement first would you care where that person sat geographicaly? The work is the same.

:)

Good questions Kim!

Edited by rmccarley, 08 October 2006 - 06:35 PM.


#3 A.N.Onym

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Posted 08 October 2006 - 07:25 PM

1. It depends on who you give advice for free to. Generally, if your advice is good, people are bound to use it on their own, right? Heck, I gained a lot of knowledge from this discussions on this forum, and I can't say I know it or use it in my job?

When it comes to free consulting, there's nothing you can do, really.

When it comes to myself, I won't advise someone in the same position as mine in the company (such as in-house marketer), unless I am a Director of Marketing, then advising other directories won't hurt - they won't hire me anyway.

Yes, there is some risk with sharing free high-end advice all around :)

2. If the company was smart enough to reverse-engineer your work, you can't and shouldn't do anything about it. It is part of the competition process in any types of work. You do competition analysis, right? So do they.

Now, of course, it comes to knowing where to look - they had to know the site you worked on, for instance, but it is generally easy (if you link to your clients' sites from your own site).

3. As Randall said, there may be two variants: you are fired or promoted. It'd make sense to learn which is it, and act accordingly.

That being said, you can't do much about it, as mentioned. If you refuse to work, you are fired. If you work, well, either of the two above happens.


I have thought a lot about saving intellectual property when consulting. It simply involves risks you don't have when you work in-house.

You consult a company for 10 hours and they don't ever need you.
You consult a an-inhouse professional for 10 hours and the company doesn't need you.
You consult an inhouse pro and he goes consulting as well, thus creating competition (sometimes doubling it in the local town).

But that's the nature of things, I believe.

By the way, I was thinking of consulting companies locally, but the more I think about it, the more I am inclined to stay inhouse for the sake of steady salary, even if it is twice as less than the supposed maximum income as a consultant.

Edited by A.N.Onym, 08 October 2006 - 07:26 PM.


#4 Black_Knight

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Posted 08 October 2006 - 07:32 PM

Great topic, Kim. One that almost anyone can learn something from thinking about on an ongoing basis, I'd say.

1. When you give advice to someone, for free, and they turn around and use it for their own purposes, such as to make themselves look good at their job, do you keep giving the information? (Some people don't buy software manuals for example. They come to forums, asking how to use something, so their employers think they had this knowledge.)

Whenever you give any advice to people, there are only two possibile outcomes: either they'll ignore it (whether or not it was good advice), or they will accept it because they can use it for their own purposes.

If the advice is valuable, you are actually often more effective in getting that advice to be taken by selling it, than by giving it away. For some reason, people pay more attention to advice they pay for, even when they could have gained that same advice free elsewhere. When it was fee, they just didn't feel as committed to using it, perhaps?

But whether you give advice for free, or as part of a deal, the only use of that advice is to help the situation of the other party. If you don't want to help them look better, or get better results for free, then simply don't give away advice. Find a relationship where you are rewarded at the giving stage, or where a contractual obligation of reward is agreed and signed prior to giving the advice.

That one has nothing to do with ethics. That's simply how transactions work. You make the agreement of what you expect back first, not expect an unagreed reward after. Especially if you did not share the risks they took in trusting your advice.


2. If you provide a service, as a consultant for example, and you know the company didn't offer your service before, but now that they saw how you do it, they no longer use you and do it themselves, does the consultant have any recourse? Is there a way to prevent this from happening?

Again, signed contracts are the key. The conditions of the contract are where you protect yourself. If they do not offer a service that you can provide, then get a contract to be their provider of that service, with terms covering contract lengths and commitments.

Otherwise of course they will seek to bring the service in-house.

Outsourcing is only done where the outsource is cheaper (in some manner) than doing it in-house. Sometimes the 'cheapness' is because the risk factor of developing a new service with an unknown market value in-house doesn't seem to make investing in skilled in-house staff, or in-house training, etc seem cost effective.

A smart business will often seek to outsource to an etablished practitioner or business to test (and prove) the market value of the service, and then of course re-balance and re-evaluate outsource costs against in-house costs again once the 'unknown risk' factor can be calculated.

Again, this isn't actually an ethics question except in the very smallest of companies. Of course the unwise outsource will feel used. They were used. But they didn't lose a deal they had any chance of keeping. They actually got work that otherwise would have been in-house all along to 'prove' the value of the service.

But in all service businesses, never ever negotiate a price and conditions today that are based on projected future business. If the deal isn't serving you well and profitably right now then don't sign it. Around 60% of prospects will tell you they have contacts, or other businesses, or partners, that will all come in if you can prove your value on a slightly inferior deal this time. It is all hogwash. Get the right deal from the start. Tomorrows project only maters in todays deal if they are willing to negotiate it and sign the contract today.

That way, even when a company uses you, you got what you agreed, and made your money as expected. No surprises possible but pleasant ones that way (a new deal or bigger deal comes in that hadn't been previously contractually agreed).

When evaluating projects, do know business, and do know why companies outsource. They do not outsource for your benefit, but for theirs. The trick is to ensure that you both benefit the most from the same deal, and then sign it. And do recognise companies who you should reasonably expect are just wanting to learn how to compete against you - then either sign a deal that accounts for that expectation to your satisfaction, or turn them away.



3. What if your boss asks you to train your replacement, who is in India? (American companies are outsourcing.) Is this ethical?

Ethical? Yes, of course. Nice it may not be, but it is certainly ethical. Part of your job duties in almost any job will be to train your replacement - even in fixed-term contracts where after developing a thing, you need to teach the buyer how to use it and maintain it. However, refusal and resignation are options where you think you are being taken advantage of.


Okay, so I'm saying these are not questions of ethics, but rather questions of expectation and preparation - i.e. standard business stuff. But there is a hidden ethics question in them I think...

Is it ethical for a business to exploit the naivete of a consultant or outsource?
Once again, I have to argue that it is. Business is tough. It is competitive. The strongest law is that old saying "Fool me once, shame on you - Fool me twice, shame on me".

Businesses that employ you have no reason to provide you with free advice that will make a deal cost them more. No more than anyone here has any obligation to say to somone before inking the contract, "You do realise I need this job so badly I'd have agreed to 40% less cash, right?"

The business that exploits you is the business that has provided you with a valuable lesson, and fixed a loophole in your contracts or business dealings henceforth. The guy who negotiates a contract is contractually and ethically obliged to get the very best deal he can for his company. It is your job to get the best deal for yourself too by negotiating to a compromise position where you both get as much as you can.

#5 AbleReach

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Posted 08 October 2006 - 08:03 PM

1. When you give advice to someone, for free, and they turn around and use it for their own purposes, such as to make themselves look good at their job, do you keep giving the information? (Some people don't buy software manuals for example. They come to forums, asking how to use something, so their employers think they had this knowledge.)

The first or second time I like to give the benefit of the doubt, unless it's obvious that they're trying to get me to think for them. In that case, they get a suggestion for how to find the information on their own. As for fooling someone into thinking they know something, if that works it'd only work until they're expected to think on their feet - love it when consequences provide self-policing. :)

2. If you provide a service, as a consultant for example, and you know the company didn't offer your service before, but now that they saw how you do it, they no longer use you and do it themselves, does the consultant have any recourse? Is there a way to prevent this from happening?

Do they understand why you do it the way you do it, or are they just copying? Someone who is copying will be able to do what they have observed, but won't understand what they have not yet experienced. Copying without understanding the foundation of decisions leads to mistakes; as soon as conditions change or are misunderstood, the copying is flawed.

Is there an aftermarket for fixing self-service mix-ups?

If you've noticed a trend towards former clients moving into being poor DIY-ers, are you unconsciously teaching them how to do it themselves? Sometimes describing how to do a thing isn't really as important to the client as describing the results (value) of your services, and the wrong kind of information will only frustrate them.

What if your boss asks you to train your replacement, who is in India? (American companies are outsourcing.) Is this ethical?

Yes, of course it's ethical, but do you want to train them? Would you be better served by putting the time into finding new work? Do you enjoy teaching?


Ethical questions are a great lense for re-examining and re-focusing your life's priorities and goals.

Edited by AbleReach, 08 October 2006 - 08:27 PM.


#6 A.N.Onym

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Posted 08 October 2006 - 08:37 PM

But in all service businesses, never ever negotiate a price and conditions today that are based on projected future business. If the deal isn't serving you well and profitably right now then don't sign it.

I am the living proof of that. Agreed to work to receive potential future benefits. Turned out I received only half of what I invested and it didn't go well anyway.

Man, how true it is.

Thanks for bringing this up, Ammon.

Edited by A.N.Onym, 08 October 2006 - 08:37 PM.


#7 projectphp

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Posted 08 October 2006 - 10:29 PM

2. If you provide a service, as a consultant for example, and you know the company didn't offer your service before, but now that they saw how you do it, they no longer use you and do it themselves, does the consultant have any recourse? I

I think Kim that you and I are both in a similar position here. Both of us provide reports that look rather easy to reproduce. But it isn't the report people are paying for, but the ability to create a meaningful report that provides real value. We are both also in a position in which providing too much training to partners could potentially lead to a loss of that partner altogether.

s there a way to prevent this from happening?

Ammon's example is excellent from the side of why companies do this, and understanding the equation from his post is key:
If outsourcing cost < bringing service inhouse, OR the risk of bringing inhouse > reward then continue outsourcing.

The trick, IMHO, is to make it a no-brainer to continue outsourcing. The first part of the equation (cost) is a tough one, because often costs are hard to keep low, but the second is something that can be very important.

One partner I have loves what I do for several reasons, but mostly because he realised that to do SEO inhouse would be a waste. Because he doesn't have enough work for several workers, training an SEO person, who might up and leave, is not worth the revenue brought in more often than not. I, on the other hand, have a vested interest in keeping myself employed, and staying up to date.

That usually is the key: making it more advantageous to partner with, by reducing the risk.

#8 ukdaz

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Posted 09 October 2006 - 07:07 AM

If the advice is valuable, you are actually , often more effective in getting that advice to be taken by selling it than by giving it away. For some reason, people pay more attention to advice they pay for, even when they could have gained that same advice free elsewhere. When it was fee, they just didn't feel as committed to using it, perhaps?


Ammon, a perfect point.

EVERY free consultation I gave in the past NEVER got me the business I wanted. The potential clients were happy to have me over for free but never valued enough what I was telling them.

Now I charge for my time they feel I am giving them extra value and refer me on to their contacts which generates new enquiries and business for me.

I very rarely give FREE time at a clients premises - the amount of times I have seen a prospective client on their invitation of "Come talk to us about the benefits of SEO" and when you get there, they have 4 to 5 people in the room asking "How do we optimize our site?"... last time this happened I advised "I did not have the time to go into that and we will need to rebook a PAID consultation".

Never did hear back from that company.

Ask the right questions, explain how you work and that you charge for your time, skill, labour and knowledge. Do this early in your conversation, it saves a lot of grief down the line.

Daz

#9 cre8pc

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Posted 09 October 2006 - 01:23 PM

Does the target market matter, then?

For example, I see sites that offer a free report, or a free trial for something. There's a good chance they also sell the same or similar product.

How much of these giveaways "give away the farm"? Do they really attract sales leads? Of these leads, I wonder how many stick (become long term customers)?

In my own case, I started out years back targeting small businesses and I gave away tons and tons of free or underpriced services. Taking the advice of some dear friends, I moved away from that target market and also began charging more practical fees.

However, I can see that its the small and medium businesses who need the services I offer. They just can't afford it (one home biz told me they took a small loan!).

From a business sense, should a company/consultant offer a solution for different budgets, or is it not wise to do so? I know that some SEO's here, for example, only do work for small/medium businesses and are thriving and happy. Others only target corporate work. How do you know or how do you decide what to target?

Michael (Php), yes yes yes and thank you. I've long wondered if I need to change my site review approach. I've always taught and delivered services, even when I was strictly an SEO. I like to empower people and giving them information that enables them to do some things on their own was something that I found satisfying. However! That belief is a bad business decision.

For those that answered question #3, the answers are interesting! That topic has been popular here at home with hubby and my tech friends, esp. in software work. It may not be ethical, but the moral of the men I know who are forced to teach people their jobs, so that their companies can eventually replace them because outsourcing is cheaper, is obviously very low. I find corporations that do this are #@$%$^%$!$!$^ (can't publish. ;-) )

#10 Black_Knight

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Posted 09 October 2006 - 01:49 PM

Does the target market matter, then?

For example, I see sites that offer a free report, or a free trial for something. There's a good chance they also sell the same or similar product.

How much of these giveaways "give away the farm"? Do they really attract sales leads? Of these leads, I wonder how many stick (become long term customers)?

You do know the professional term for those giveaways and 'tasters' don't you?

Loss Leaders.

It isn't your market that decides whether you can afford to use this strategy, it is your ability to fund a loss for long enough for people to aquire the taste. I don't know how many of you are sat on millions of dollars of capital, but I'd certainly advise anyone that isn't in such a position to examine all other strategies first. :)

For an example of what a loss-leader strategy is about, look no further than Amazon. They spent years, and billions of dollars taking a loss on every order to provide free delivery. But the strategy wasn't as mad or foolish as you might think. You see, businesses with huge turnover of products, who buy in enormous bulk, get bigger discounts. Sometimes taking a loss to get the volume to get offered prices no other supplier would get from the manufacturer is worthwhile.

One of our members found out what that really means:

Unfortunately, a competitor has arisen that sells Fritz to the consumer at the same price I pay for it... Amazon. They are $39.99 with free shipping.

Quoted from This post by Caissa


Additionally, a lot of Amazon's losses were in customer acquisition. Since their customer retention was world-beating, they could afford to buy customers at high prices. They knew that when they stopped paying $38 to attract a customer who made a $10 they'd have already reached a critical mass of size, they'd have the volume of business to get very preferential prices on any stock or supplies, and that they knew so much about viral marketing that each customer was worth far more than they'd paid for them, even when the first few orders were not.

#11 Black_Knight

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Posted 09 October 2006 - 04:49 PM

I left the other questions unanswered a while, in case anyone else wanted to jump on in. But on the other hand, I don't want to leave those questions unanswered a moment longer than they need be.

I started out years back targeting small businesses and I gave away tons and tons of free or underpriced services.

Which is always the place where most services start, and where they also die.

You wouldn't put a plant into barren, unfertile, nutrient-starved ground without light or water and expect it to live, so why do people plant their business with such careless concern? Your business has needs. The needs it has will vary with the business. But whatever those needs are, they must be met, or the business will never bloom, and may instead wither and die.

However, I can see that its the small and medium businesses who need the services I offer. They just can't afford it (one home biz told me they took a small loan!).

The people who most need food are not the customers for a new restaurant.

How are you defining that need? On value to them?

Hypothetically, if you can make a 5% difference to the annual turnover of a company, who does that service reward best?
Is it the company that is 10% under acheiving sustainability? The company for whom that 5% might just enable them to make enough to keep pursuing a doomed business model? The company for whom 5% growth is an extra 2 employees to take home wages? The company to whom that 5% difference is a whole new office of 100 workers?

For your business to help anyone, it must survive and thrive.

Can anyone tell me how going broke serving a half-dozen small businesses, perhaps safeguarding a total of 20 incomes, but not your own, is so much more worthy than safeguarding the income of hundreds by having a business that survives and serves again and again?

Want to know the greatest support you can give to people?

Be a great employer. Build the company that safeguards the economic future of your neighborhood. The company that provides jobs, wages, and opportunities for scores of people across generations, and focuses all the creativity and labour of those workers in to providing good services at fair prices for thousands upon thousands of customers.

Helping a mom-n-pop to scrape a living, when they would probably otherwise have ditched that project and found something more sustainable and valuable to do has done nobody a service. Grow your company so you can sponsor small business, invest in them. That is a real answer.


From a business sense, should a company/consultant offer a solution for different budgets, or is it not wise to do so? I know that some SEO's here, for example, only do work for small/medium businesses and are thriving and happy. Others only target corporate work. How do you know or how do you decide what to target?

By demand. What can you supply that there is a demand for? And the price is just one of the 4 Ps remember.

Selling your services for an hourly rate (figuring in all the hours you spend selling and refining the service, not just the small percentage of actual delivery time) lower than for flipping burgers is serving nobody. Not a soul.

You cannot sell what costs you $100 to provide at less than that $100 plus taxes, plus an income. To sell cheaper, you must be able to produce it cheaper. Once you have your costs as low as you can without sacrificing the actual value of the product, you are at the bottom of that scale. Anyone who needs a still-cheaper solution is not your market, and is not demand for your product.

Okay, now the other end - if someone could give you an unlimited budget of your time, and of resources and money to work with, what could you acheive for them? What is the biggest budget that you could possibly actually use? There is the top end of your scale.

Now if that is your best product, why are you offering everyone such inferior products compared with what you could do for the hundreds of thousands of businesses that could afford the best?

From there on, you are marketing based on value to you, knowing that your best work is the most costly, and that the companies you used to feel needed your help the most, were actually the ones you were offering your most inferior service to.

Do the best you can do, for the budget it demands. Build that company that can invest, employ and do so much more than give a few tips to a couple of businesses.

#12 cre8pc

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Posted 09 October 2006 - 06:47 PM

Couldn't let this bit of synchronicity go by....

Seth wrote today.

Cheaper

I just got an angry note from Anna in the Midwest. She read one of my books, got the coupon for unlimited free consulting by email and decided to cash it in. She sent me a note asking me to persuade her bosses that the best way to grow their resort was to lower prices.

When I responded that perhaps she ought to consider raising prices and using the extra money to create a remarkable experience, she got really angry with me. Of course, I refunded her consulting fee. Actually gave her three times back what she paid...

Here's what I think: Cheaper is the last refuge of the person who's not a very good marketer. Cheaper is easy and cheaper is fast and cheaper is linear and cheaper is easy to do properly, at least at first. But cheaper doesn't spread the word (unless you are much cheaper, but to be much cheaper, you need to be organized from the ground up, like Walmart or JetBlue, to be cheaper). They are, you're not.



#13 A.N.Onym

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Posted 09 October 2006 - 07:15 PM

Okay, now the other end - if someone could give you an unlimited budget of your time, and of resources and money to work with, what could you acheive for them? What is the biggest budget that you could possibly actually use? There is the top end of your scale.

Thanks for the piece above, Ammon. Now I can really test how much my services are worth.

I have also thought about first checking what I can deliver and the value of my services to the end customers, and only then determining the target audience and the price. Naturally, my best effort might be an overkill (or the best they can get) for a mom&pop business, but just the right choice for businesses, who want to invest in improving their websites.


Seth's right, of course.

By selling something cheaper you simply cut your piece of pie and give it to someone else. You simply deal with people looking for 'affordable cheap services' instead of 'quality services'.

#14 projectphp

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Posted 09 October 2006 - 09:36 PM

I've always taught and delivered services, even when I was strictly an SEO. I like to empower people and giving them information that enables them to do some things on their own was something that I found satisfying. However! That belief is a bad business decision.

I don't think you should change that too much Kim. Just don't educate your partners to the point they can take what you do :D

It is a fine line, and one I constantly get on the wrong side of: how to give away the "right" ammount of information. IMHO, if your partners take your work and do it themselves, what you need to do is spend more time teaching them how to sell Usability, not how to do usability.

There really is no need to teach a firm, unless that is what you are paid to do, to teach a partner what you do. There is, however, a huge benefit to both sides in teaching them how to sell it.

Selling is funny. Often, what sells something isn't of any actual value. I had that experience when I went to a restaurant for Offal. Now,. offal doesn;t sell very well of a menu (I bet most people would tunr their nose up at it), but it was one of the best meals I have ever had. What sells (the perception of flavour) isn't what people really want (actual flavour).

That is the best place to focus, IMHO, on sales support.

#15 manager

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Posted 10 October 2006 - 06:23 PM

Off topic:

Seth's right, of course, but what about businesses that operate in price sensitive markets ?

For example: take “online car insurance”, with all the "price/benefit comparison sites" out there. Please explain how an increase in price is an advisable tactic , when your competitors offer the same benefits, like for like. And employ price/feature matching/beating.

#16 Black_Knight

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Posted 10 October 2006 - 01:41 PM

Trev, I think those 'price sensitive' markets are a self-made trap most of the time.

I'd gladly take out a more expensive insurance policy if I could feel that for once it was actually protecting my interests, and not one that would have so many exemptions and exclusions as to be there only for a feel-good factor. From the research I've read, so would most others.

Which is why bespoke insurance policies are still popular and do not have to compete on price at all.

The companies choose to compete on price, rather than on service most of the time, and almost always compete on price rather than value. At the end of the day, insurance is a sector that maximises its value by not actually selling its product, but by selling the conditional promise of providing its product later. :D

Hmm wonder if we could sell SEO insurance? Pay us $2,000 a month and if you rank worse than you do now at some future time (see teeny tiny print for 8 pages of exceptions and conditions. Your home and sanity may be at risk if you agree to make payments) then we'll provide enough SEO to put you back where you are now... :rofl:

#17 A.N.Onym

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Posted 10 October 2006 - 07:30 PM

Off Topic offtopicI'd think there would be demand for such a service, Ammon :blink:
Then again, how do you provide value without using the fine print?

Most sites will lose their rankings if they don't do anything..even if they do engage in link building schemes :)

Can you afford to take on a client for $2000 a month?

A business plan might be an interesting read here.

Edited by A.N.Onym, 10 October 2006 - 07:31 PM.


#18 manager

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Posted 11 October 2006 - 02:53 AM

Trev, I think those 'price sensitive' markets are a self-made trap most of the time.

Ammon I agree with you to a certain extent, but there is another school of thought that would suggest that; this is one the much-touted benefits of a free market economy. i.e. Competition will drive down prices resulting in a higher standard of living for consumers.

LOL Don't get me started on Fine Print.
Fine Print is one of my pet hates, and IMO it is far from ethical. The use of fine print is still legal in UK TV Advertising. It is especially prevalent in ads for financial services. What is really funny is they have a version of fine print for radio advertising were the “voice over artiste” speaks really fast so you can’t pick up what they are saying – again this is perfectly legal in the UK

On Q3:
I think businesses outsourcing to India is wrong for many reasons.
We are already seeing UK companies advertise that they are not using foreign call centres; they have rightly figured that this is a competitive advantage. I’m prepared to pay extra to avoid companies who use foreign call centres. Not because I have anything against Indians, it just that it is very frustrating dealing with them on the phone, having to spell every other word slowly, using the phonetic alphabet

On a even more serious note: In the UK we are loosing 1000s of unskilled Call Centre jobs in the financial services and IT sectors to India. These unskilled UK workers (from all ethnic backgrounds), are then forced into a situation whereby they have to compete for low paid jobs with eastern EU migrant workers. How can that be sustainable in the longer term ?

I think companies using foreign call centre staff may be guilty of a form of racism, why ? because they are happy to use low paid labour in their call centres, but they never feature these workers in their TV advertising campaigns. They tend discrimate against people with strong regional Indain accents, in favour of white Europeans with "Oxford English" accents.

TreV

Edited by manager, 11 October 2006 - 03:25 AM.


#19 Black_Knight

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Posted 11 October 2006 - 03:40 AM

Ammon I agree with you to a certain extent, but there is another school of thought that would suggest that; this is one the much-touted benefits of a free market economy. i.e. Competition will drive down prices resulting in a higher standard of living for consumers.

Oh certainly. It is supposed to prevent monopoly positions where a company will charge far more than they need to for products. But the other side of benefit of the free market economy is that it is supposed to encourage innovation and higher service levels. The free market economy assumes that companies will be forced to constantly offer the greatest value at lowest prices they can, or fall to a company that does these things better.

I'm with Seth in saying that most marketers lack innovation, and fall back on price cuts, or price wars. I can think of many cases where companies will take a loss for a sustained period in order to starve-out the small companies who don't have reserves of millions and can't afford to take similar losses. It may be effective in many cases, but in many cases it actually just means the company will intend to make all its money back later by putting prices up when the competitor is destroyed, or by lowering the product quality to recoup the losses. It is rarely in the long term interests of the consumer.

#20 ukdaz

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Posted 11 October 2006 - 09:45 AM

Ah a classic recently.

Phoned a client referred to me and I made it clear from the start if I came to their premises to review and discuss SEO for their website it would be charged for as a consultation.

Next question from client:

"So where do I find the tools you mention online?"

"That would be discussed during my time with you."

" I want to know now for free."

"You'd need to pay me for my time to go through how to use online tools and thats not something I give away for free."

"Ok. So can you tell me now how to get my website to number 1 on Google for (insert keyword phrase here). I don't want to pay you, I just want to know."

My reply:

"Do you provide (keyword here) for free or do people pay you for their time in them?"

"They pay."

"Same as me then."

Conversation ended round about then. :D

I give up sometimes.... ;)

Daz

PS I suppose I could have pointed him the right way but I'd doubt he'd be that grateful or given me work in the future based on my free assistance at that point...

#21 manager

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Posted 11 October 2006 - 10:54 AM

PS I suppose I could have pointed him the right way but I'd doubt he'd be that grateful or given me work in the future based on my free assistance at that point...

One tactic I use on cheapskates and chiselling riff raff is to apologise, and say that I have another call waiting. Should they ask me why I am taking another call instead of dealing with them, I diplomatically point out that the "waiting caller" is a “paying customer” therefore must be given preference.

This tactic can give you some breathing space to decide how/whether to proceed. Especially when your gut instinct may be to hang up on them, or tell them to go to hell, or somewhere equally unpleasant. :D
TreV

#22 ukdaz

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Posted 11 October 2006 - 11:57 AM

chiselling riff raff


:rofl:

love it!


Thanks Trev.

Daz

PS I used to refer some to this forum but you'd be surprised with the "I can't be bothered reading a forum" answer I'd get back. Still it showed they couldn't be that committed to their sites then.

#23 Black_Knight

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Posted 11 October 2006 - 12:49 PM

I often tell prospects that they can find pretty much all the information they need online, and that if spending their time digging it up, separating the truth from the mistaken (or even outright misleading), learning how to apply it, and gaining the experience in which of three possible solutions is optimal for each specific circumstance is within their resource and time-frame allowances, then within a few years they'll have the same knowledge and practical advice that I bring with me to the first 20 minutes of our first consultation.

It is a simple build-or-buy decision. If they think it may be more economical to build that expertise than buy it, then that is the decision that they should make.



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