Motherhood Low #233: “Lego Falls into Toilet”

October 8, 2009

A couple of nights ago as I was busy deciphering the relevance and importance of the materials in my son’s school backpack, his panic-stricken voice pierced through the house: “Mama, I dropped my Lego in the toilet!”

 The physiological response that followed that statement was palpable.  I immediately went into negotiation mode: “We have thousands of Lego pieces – just how important can THIS ONE be?”  “It’s a WHEEL,” he countered. 

 Well, you can all guess what Motherhood Low #234 is.

 As I fished that “special” critical plastic Lego wheel from the bowl I thought to myself, “Is there no limit to what I will do for this person?”

 Today’s business climate is murky.  Everyone is trying to do more with less and in so doing, those who are actually sticking around to do the ‘more’ are being heavily burdened.  Where is that line where it is no longer OK? 

 In our ecosystem, we have contacts and clients who no longer have the healthy budgets we grew to enjoy, but somehow the decrease in budget has had no impact on their need for services.  We struggle with balancing ‘doing right’ by our clients with ‘doing right’ by our P&L. Services, unlike physical goods, are sometimes hard to clearly define.  You may feel it’s OK to ask your tax person a clarifying question without compensation. But you wouldn’t ask him to file a Schedule C. Like CPAs and lawyers, Marketers run into those five minute calls with questions such as: ‘What do you think of this tagline?’

I know that in our particular case, we want to build and maintain lifetime relationships with our clients. To that purpose, we don’t worry too much about the adhoc ‘free’ advice.  We believe it all comes back to us at some point. That being said, it’s important to know how to recognize when and how you’ll react to your customer’s Lego falling in an unspeakable place. 

Have a plan in place. Know how many hours or pearls of wisdom you are comfortable giving away in the interest of building good will. Know when to draw a line, and with integrity, insist that compensation, even if it’s deferred, be agreed to.

You’re in a relationship with your customers, so it’s important that they understand when they pull or push too hard. If you want to be valued, value yourself and value your work.  Find your limits and make them known. Or be satisfied with fishing treasures out of toilets.

Down in the dumps? Circling the bowl? Don’t let your wheels come off. Have a hit of MarketingSmack at www.marketingsmack.wordpress.com or visit us at www.summitstrategypartners.com.

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