07/05/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Tire-Kicker Education

Dear Liz,

I am a graphic designer and I'm weary. I get calls all the time from people who want a logo or a new branding program and don't want to pay for it. I try to get off the phone quickly but twenty minutes here and twenty minutes there add up. I don't want to put my prices on my site (should I?) but seriously, what businessperson thinks he can get a new brand for five hundred dollars?



Dear Martine,

I am sorry you are tuckered out! Tire-kickers will do that to you. Here is the crazy thing. I'm not sure these callers are tire-kickers.

Tire-kickers are people who call you to gather information. They have no intention of buying anything. Your callers sound like people who want to buy something. They think that what they want will cost them $500. If you want to do it, you can educate them. They aren't necessarily evil or money-grubbing or disrespectful of your abilities. They just don't know. Many of us haven't bought branding and design services before.

Another crazy thing is that they CAN get a logo and all their branding for five hundred bucks -- for way less than that. You may feel that the branding they get for that price will stink. I may agree with you. It doesn't matter what we think. The product/service exists at that price point. That may be the right answer for some of the people who call you. It will be the wrong answer for others. Could you use that twenty minutes on the phone to find out?

Let's try it:

YOU: Martine Smith!
THEM: Hi Martine, Andy Grove here. I've launched a small business and I need a logo for it.
YOU: How exciting! Congratulations, Andy!
ANDY: Yeah, it's pretty cool. I'm self-funded right now so I only have about five hundred bucks to spend.
YOU: Fantastic. You can get a logo for that. You can even get one for free. There are logo solutions at every point on the imaginary price-range spectrum.
ANDY: For free?
YOU: Totally. There are sites that give away free logos.
ANDY: Maybe I should look into those.
YOU: Absolutely. You can Google "free logos." Those are fantastic for people who don't care so much if their logo is distinctive, you know, they just want to get something going, for instance a person with a one-summer landscaping business. It depends what your plans are for your business.
ANDY: Well, I want to get huge, but at this point I can't invest in the branding that I'll eventually need.
YOU: I totally see that. So, you're planning to grow modestly at first, de-emphasizing the branding, and then sort of re-launch with your real branding at a later point before your sales take off?
ANDY: Well, I'd like to grow fast starting right now, to be honest.
YOU: In that case I worry a bit about changing your branding in mid-stream. Will you be working with the media in the short term, and/or going after significant clients?
ANDY: Totally, I've got a meeting with Intel coming up in June.
YOU: Wow! That's magnificent. How do you want the business to appear, when you meet with Intel?
ANDY: I want to look significant, like an Intel vendor.
YOU: I can see why you would. That Intel relationship would put you on the map, wouldn't it?
ANDY: Oh, it's huge. I can't goof it up.
YOU: In that case...

Educating callers is fun, Martine. Give it a try! The phone conversation above wouldn't clock in at more than three minutes, tops. If we see our prospective clients and fans as stupid or unworldly we are creating negative energy. If we see them as curious and skilled in different areas than our own areas of expertise, we open up the possibility that we may become not only a vendor to them but an advisor as well, becoming clearer about our own value in the process.

Let us know what happens!