Asking vs. Giving: How to Use Generosity as a Marketing Tool

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I often tell my clients not to pitch their services - ever!

Not that there’s anything wrong with pitching. We all need work, and directly asking for it is one way to get it.

But over the past 35 years helping creative freelancers with their marketing, here’s what I find works better than pitching:

Offering help.

It’s a subtle difference.

Pitching is about you. It’s asking for and expecting something. That can feel uncomfortable.

Offering help is about the person you’re reaching out to and giving them something without expectation. That feels great actually!

It’s one more way to use generosity as a marketing tool.

When it comes to getting the clients and projects that you want, leading with generosity makes outreach easier and more natural for you to do…

And easier for your prospective clients to respond to.

Not sure what “generosity” looks like in outreach?

Instead of thinking about what you want out of the interaction, switch your thinking to how you can help them.

Q4 is an excellent time to do this, as people tend to get busy with projects and push for year-end goals while having less time to accomplish them.

That’s where you can jump in and offer your help.

Here are some Q4 messages infused with generosity that a few of my clients have used to fill their calendars with Q1 projects:

“I wanted to check in before the holiday season takes over to see where you are in the decision-making process and if you expect a decision before the end of the year. We’re planning for first quarter and we’d love to save time for you.”


“Just checking back with you before the holidays get super busy. Do you have any projects planned for next year that you would like to talk about now so they’re ready to go come January? If so, let me know a few days and times you are available and we’ll get it scheduled."


“I thought I would check in with you before the holidays get super busy. Do you foresee the need for extra writing assistance next year? If so, let me know if you would like to talk about anything before the end of the year to be ready to roll come January.”

None of these messages directly ask for work.

Instead, they offer to save time for the client or get things ready for them in the coming year.

And they all take some of the thinking and planning off of the client’s shoulders, which is generous in itself.

You can do this with prospective clients, too, if you do your homework so you can guess what they might need and offer to help them with it.

Want more guidance?

This cartoon from our last Office Hours by SMP member, Antonio Meza, lists the 5 things the first paragraph of your outreach message should do.

And note that “show you did your homework” is first on the list!

Or you can listen in as I explain more about leading with generosity in the “Best Bits” from our recent Office Hours here:

Can you think of one or two people you could offer to help? See if you can send them a note today. Let me know how it goes.

And if you just need a quick win, here are a few shortcuts you can try.

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