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Teaching pigs to sing… NOT!

Posted by Ilise Benun on

Robert Heinlein said: "Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig." I just love that.

What this means to me is that there are times when you just can't reach certain people. You can shout 'til you're blue in the face, but that pig is never going to sing!

Recently, I had a prospect who didn't start out as a pig, but in the end definitely leaned towards "oink." The conversation went something like this:

PROSPECT: I just have a few questions about your proposal. Why should you get so much money when Budget Web Design charges a lot less?

ME: That's a fair question. Let's start by making sure we're comparing apples to apples. At Saxon Design, we produce original design, created especially for you. No off-the-shelf template design here! And, our professional copywriters  produce stellar marketing copy. They will optimize your site for the search engines AND write for human  beings! We bring a one-on-one human touch to you from start to finish.

PROSPECT: Hmph. People don't care about design, they just want to get the information they are looking for. Plus, I have some copy from my old website that you can just cut and paste, so I think you're just trying to screw me out of my money.

GRRRR. Not only does this guy have no understanding of what goes into professional design but also has a blatant and total disregard everything we stand for. What kind of an idiot is he anyway, to think that none of this matters?

PROSPECT: BLAHBLAHBLAHBLAH… so it's just not worth that much money.

ME (exercising obvious self-control): I see that you and I may not value marketing, design and customer service in the same way, so here is what I WILL do for you, now that I know what your budget is…

I prepared a VERY QUICK revised proposal and washed my hands of it. I could have argued for design and tried to bring him over to my side, but I didn't. In retrospect, the most important thing I did was not only control my tongue, but I also let it go. I JUST COMPLETELY LET IT GO. As a matter of fact, I let it go so much that I didn't even complain to my husband about it at dinner that night! Did I end up getting the gig? No, I didn't. And I was deeply relieved.

It's easy to be pulled into negative situations where we start questioning the validity of our services or our pricing structure, and start to wonder whether our time and talents are really worth all that. But being pulled in to that argument is just a waste of our own, VERY VALUABLE time and energy, when there are prospects waiting out there who DO share in our values.

Life is expensive and time is your greatest resource. Are the pigs really worth it?

What are your experiences with pig-singing? Do you have any stories you'd like to share?

PAMELA SAXON helps those in arts and entertainment visually express themselves through integrated marketing, as well as helping them to get organized in their social media efforts. You can find her on Twitter, and on Facebook, or sign up for her newsletter here:

Read about Pam's journey to become a conference speaker and listen to her interview about how direct outreach has increased her business by 240%.

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