How saying “No thanks!” can be expensive, but not the way you think

We can’t always say “Yes!” to every offer of work. I know this only too well. And sometimes, saying “No thanks!” can be costly to you, but an educational process to someone else.

While this situation doesn’t occur that often, it’s certainly happened often enough for me to consider how expensive saying “No thanks!” can be.

Back in September, I talked about the power of saying “No” to clients, and how it’s not always automatically a bad thing. The thing is, saying “No thanks!” is slightly different and not always as straight forward as it appears to be.

I had an offer of work, all of which came in the form of a Microsoft Word file. The problem was, the file was in a terrible state and would require an inordinate amount of effort to fix the layout before it could be turned into something usable.

The ROI (Return on Investment) of giving away business knowledge

For me, at the the quoting stage, I was presented with a clear problem; how do I communicate to the prospective client the amount of work required to knock the Word file into shape?

The prospective client would want to know why it was going to be at least a day of my time just re-working the layout. So their question to me would then require at least some kind of explanation of layout and the design process. For me to say “No thanks!” could easily turn into an expensive educational process with a question return on my investment.

For a prospective client that I’m trying to say “No thanks!” to, I could easily spend an hour of my time, which isn’t going to be paid for. Now, you could argue that having explained this to the prospective client, they could make the decision to go with my advice. However, at the time, they’d made it clear the layout wasn’t a priority. But for me to even use the content of the Word file, the layout most definitely was a priority!

This is just one example, but when you sit down and think of all the times that prospective clients catch you on the phone and the conversation drifts into an exploratory, partially educational process, for them to just say “No thanks!” to you, that’s yet another avenue for lost, non-billable time.

Business education as an investment?

Now, the situation is totally different when it comes to existing clients. I think educating clients is part & parcel of what I do, since my role is more a consultancy and partner than being a mere supplier. I’m happy to invest my knowledge into my clients because I’m confident that the effort will result in additional work over the long-term, as well as increasing their value in me.

An existing client clearly has some trust in you, so they’re going to value your knowledge. And they’ll value your knowledge all the more once you’re able provide demonstrable evidence, with results.

As a legitimate business activity, earning trust should play a major role.

Of course, you need to keep things simple and not give too much away. Revealing too much about what you do can be as harmful as not saying enough. Ideally, you’re trying to minimize the amount of thinking your client needs to do.

The take-away advice here is to be aware of the time you’re spending saying “No thanks!” and how you choose to walk away from project estimates. But also be aware that giving your knowledge to existing clients could be a valuable investment.

New social media ebook pre-announcement

In lieu of the launch of my new ebook, entitled: “The Beginner’s Guide to Social Media — An introduction to social media from a business perspective”, I’d like to just explain a little about why I decided to write such a book in the first place.

I’ve been writing about social media from a business point of view quite some time. Back in June, I posted an article explaining in brief what social media is, which came out of some ideas I was playing around with at the time.

When I look around the business community, I see a lot of people talking about social media, but having little idea what it entails, or how social media can properly benefit their business.

There’s a lot to know about social media — certainly from a business point of view — which is hard to capture and commit to memory, just from catching conversations and the odd blog article here & there.

Writing a book about social media for business

With that as a backdrop, I decided to write, what was at the time, a simple presentation. After giving it some more thought, I realized a presentation just wasn’t enough to do the subject the kind of justice it deserved, or to give business people a real taste for / of social media. So I decided to flesh the presentation out into a full-blown book.

The book is broken down into 4 main parts, which are:

  1. What is social media?
  2. What does social media do?
  3. How can social media impact on your business?
  4. Optimizing for social media

To some extent, I’ve been fortunate enough to have written about many of the key themes and elements of the book on the Blah, Blah! Technology blog, such as Social Media & Social Networking and SMO (Social Media Optimization) & SMM (Social Media Marketing), over the last couple of years.

I’m really, really pleased with the book so far. And the feedback I’ve had from those who’ve been kind enough to proof read my book has been fantastic. Over the next month or so, I’ll be building a social media marketing campaign of my own around my ebook, to promote it as far and as wide as possible.

I’m still not sure whether I want to sell the book, or offer it for free. However, most people seem to think I should charge something, so that seems to be the direction I’m leaning towards for the time being.

Rather than give an exact launch date, I’m just going to keep working on the book until I’m 100% happy with it, and then take it from there. But writing a book is a very different proposition to then launching and publicizing it, which is something I’ve never done before. So it’s going to be a lot learning!

So stay tuned and watch out for my brand new social media book, coming soon…

6 five minute SEO guides for business websites

Optimizing your business website for the search engines might seem like a daunting task. Either you do it yourself, or you pay someone. Sometimes, doing SEO work yourself might end up costing you more than hiring a professional like me. So here’s a collection of 5 minute SEO guides for business websites.

The following are a collection of articles originally published on the Blah, Blah! Technology blog, taken from my instant SEO article:

5 minute SEO primer for beginners — “In SEO, it’s often the simple stuff that works the best. But time and again, people ask: “How do I get to the front page of Google?” — we start with the basics of Search Engine Optimization…”

SEO for URLs and externally linked files on websites & ‘blogs — “Google is a reader of websites who’s best kept happy with sensible structure and strong content. Google will read almost anything — or should I say almost any file…”

Search Engine Optimization: the art of ti… — “Titles maketh the article. Without a concise title, enriched with meaty keyword chunks, an article is just so many bytes of miscellaneous data. So I just thought I’d touch upon my thoughts on quick, easy SEO tips again, with an example. It’s the simplest principles of Search Engine Optimization that do the most good. But it’s the simple things that often get overlooked .. even by the big guys…”

2-4-1 keyword listing on Google SERP — “Ever curious as to the circuitous route some of the visitors to my ‘blog take en route, I’m often left in various states of mind…”

SEO tips for websites — “Here are my top Search Engine Optimization tips for giving your web pages a lift, making your website that little bit more friendly to the search engines and your visitors alike!”

What search engines really, really want from your website! — “The similarities between the web, the way the web functions and real life are much closer than you’d think.”

Feeling empowered? Hopefully, I’ve armed you with enough SEO know-how to at least give your business website a boost…

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Did you think the web was just websites? It’s now also about sharing data & information instantly with colleagues and clients anywhere in the world.

And because I, as Octane, have clients in the manufacturing, engineering and healthcare industries, offering their products & services globally, I’m confident that I can help your business meet your present and future needs — personally.

  1. Cut costs and raise productivity by being more efficient.
  2. I’m a designer, a consultant and a programmer — 3 people for the price of 1.
  3. Fully managed web hosting, email and support.

A sample of your FREE website critique

  • In addition to the list of completed projects, why not add Case Studies and Testimonials?
  • Add in CTAs (Calls to Action), to prompt visitors to call you, or complete your response form.
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To arrange your free consultation call Wayne on: 0870 755 0004, or send me a message right away…

Professionalism in business and ‘blogging

Professionalism is more than just being good at something. Life being broadly analogous to a contest, professionalism is about how you present yourself before, during and after the game. So what does being a Pro mean?

If you’re new to business, look at the following as a rough guide to doing business with people. A people primer, if you like.

As a businessman, I have to play the politics game as well as my own game. Why? Because the other businesses I do business with have their own take on things and how those things need to be done.

So diplomacy plays a big part, in the sense that business people must pay some respect to each other and our own, sometimes idiosyncratic, way of doing things.

Sometimes, there will be a clash of personalities and it’s during those moments that you have be a diplomat first and foremost. But at the same time, you need to distinguish yourself by maintaining some degree of composure.

If it’s a conflict and it transpires that you’re wrong, then bow out gracefully and ensure you can articulate the reasons why you thought your were right.

Be sure sure you’re not closing any doors, or burning any bridges.

Don’t be an advertorialinsultomercialist by insulting your competitors to give yourself an edge.

Sports stars are a great example of how we often get the whole professionalism thing used interchangeably with talent. Or use the word professionalism so often that it’s almost throw-away, disposable.

A huge salary is not a sign of professionalism. Nor is a insulting the competition, getting blind drunk in public, beating up your girlfriend, illicit affairs, gambling addictions, abusive behaviour or questionable TV appearances.

Professionalism is about being dignified and composed in the face of adversity. Being aware of your influence and using that influence in a responsible and measured way.

In ‘blogging, upholding these qualities can be a challenge, which I know only too well myself. As an example, dealing with bad comments can sometimes mean making uncomfortable, difficult choices.

Showing restraint when writing is another challenge. As a rule, if you’re in the mood to write a rant, do so, but leave it until the next day at least, or when you’ve calmed down. Then, re-read and edit accordingly. You’ll be surprised by how differently things look!

Of course, business people and sports stars are driven, motivated individuals. They often share common, key character attributes, such as aggression, towering egos, extreme natural talent, an intuitive awareness, huge self belief and a hunger for success.

However, what separates the professionals from the also-rans is how those qualities are harnessed, focused, channeled and then applied to their life. And I say life because professionalism is a life-long thing, not something you can switch on & off with all the convenience of a light bulb.

So I thought I’d put the question to the people of my Social Network and ask them for their definition of what they think professionalism is:

  • Ash Laws via Pownce — “Conducting any dealings or interactions with other people ethically.”
  • Richard Alan Cowling via Twitter — “It’s simply an attitude. Nothing more … but the attitude … results in behaviour which is.”
  • Alex Hardy on Twitter — “Working to certain standards of quality and how you conduct yourself with other professionals / customers.”

Also, here’s some things that don’t automatically make you a Pro:

  • wearing a smart or an expensive suite;
  • just saying that you’re a Pro, or an expert, guru et cetera;
  • going to the same venues / events / gigs as the Pros;
  • having Pros as “friends” on some social network;

No, professionalism is everything you do done well and noticed by enough of the right people often enough that they consider you to be a professional.

Even if you act like a Pro, to be considered a Pro is for others to say, not you…