… began work with a new client.

She’s launching a new business and is very excited about the problem it solves, who it’s for, how it plays to her strengths, and her new web site.

At one point I asked: “What can I buy from you?”

I didn’t expect this to be a trick question, but after a long silence she said, “I don’t know.”

Nobody opens a retail store without explicitly offering things for sale.

But service professionals, particularly those who are inventing something new, sometimes forget that until somebody writes you a check, you’re not really in business.

Think about how the money will come in and offer that, even if it’s a bit rough, as soon as possible. You can (and should) fine-tune the rest as you go.


… had breakfast with a friend, a financial planner.

He showed up, as he always does, driving a very high end Audi.

That makes sense – you want to believe that your financial planner is himself financially successful.

Of course, if your plumber showed up driving a very high end Audi, rather than assuming he was fantastically capable, you’d assume he was ripping you off.

Marketing is everything you are, much more than just the standard list of promotional tactics we all rely on.

Ideally, all the pieces fit together into one clear, consistent and compelling picture.


… didn’t charge somebody for my advice.


I probably could have.

It was somebody I know a little bit; he had a bunch of questions about something he was writing.

But there didn’t seem to be enough meat there to move forward on a paid basis, so I just helped him and wished him well.

As you might imagine, he was quite surprised and happy.

On the one hand, I lost a little bit of income. On the other hand, I just sent somebody out into the world who is sure to sing my praises.

Sometimes, walking away from a little bit of money today leads to a lot of money in the future. (I believe that’s called “marketing.”)


… received a friendly email from an online vendor.


It included several exclamation points.

It thanked me for making their success possible.

It was written in a light, conversational tone.

One problem: the purpose of the email was to tell me that their support team was really busy and they had no idea when they’d get back to me, much less fix the problem I had contacted them about.

Friendly conversational enthusiasm is nice; I’m a big fan. But that’s extra – your clients aren’t paying for that.

If you can’t provide the fundamental service I hired you to provide, cheerfulness won’t move the needle.


… got an email from a new client.


It came from gmail:

Even though she owns the URL of her business name (, she’s using gmail.

I suggested she stop doing that and instead use

Using a gmail address – or Hotmail or Yahoo or Outlook – screams “I’m an amateur. I’m not in this for real.”

If you have a web site domain, you have email addresses along with it. Use those in all your business-related communications!