Recently I was involved in an online discussion about marketing. A service provider was complaining that she was being forced to call past clients of the business on her own time to try and get them to come in for free introductory services with her. She was unhappy with this since she was only compensated when she saw paying clients.
I don’t think anyone should be forced to do unpaid marketing or work of any kind by his or her employer; it’s possibly unlawful and most definitely unproductive if the one doing the marketing is not a willing participant or feels like s/he is being taken advantage of . However, I believe the service provider was actually failing to see the bigger picture.
So what’s the bigger picture? As a longtime massage therapist and former spa owner, I believe it is everyone’s responsibility to market the business they work in, particularly if they will be on the receiving end of the revenue when clients come in. It helps to provide job security for the individual as well as revenue generation (hopefully) for both the employee and the business, which is good for everyone. As a business and marketing coach, I share this idea often and especially with those who say they want to be busy or successful but then complain about how the business owner doesn’t do enough to bring in new business or how hard it is to grow a clientele.
As an independent contractor and new massage therapist, I did tons of free marketing at the suggestion of my first boss, including cold calling his database of old clients and asking them to come in to see me for discounted services. I was not paid for this (nor was I forced to do it), but I did reap the benefits when the clients booked with me and sometimes became my regulars. I also worked many free events and promoted myself all over the place, all at no cost to the businesses where I worked. However, I gained many new and regular clients and increased my overall income from being a part of these unpaid endeavors. Learning to do this kind of promotion through someone else’s business is probably what helped me to have confidence to do it on my own when I later opened my own practice and day spa.
The bottom line to service providers: Do you really want to get more clients? Are you willing to do what it takes to put yourself out there, to give of your time and gifts in order to be the success you want to be? If so, then find a way to look at requests like this as an opportunity instead of an obligation and find other ways to promote yourself and the business. If not, then consider other employment options or learn to be happy with the amount of clients and income you get from where you presently work. Either way, I also suggest discussing your concerns about requests like this with your employer or manager, who may not be aware of your viewpoint or feel that s/he is imposing on you. By working together, you will both be more likely to succeed.