Stop giving away your ideas for free

We all love to offer our expertise when asked. But what if you don’t get paid for it?

Very often I get calls and emails asking for help. 99% of the time those cries for help turn into paying customers. However, sometimes they don’t work out that way…

Recently I got an enquiry following a referral and I spent endless amounts of time on the phone and answering emails back and forth, offering advice and how to move forward with their online marketing, and how I would help them moving forward…

During our call the client loved my ideas and my approach and said she would be in touch.

I never really heard back.

Of course, why would I? I gave my ideas for free and that gave them the opportunity to implement my strategies in-house…. Damn I must have been good.

I’m no dummy, I knew I shouldn’t have given away so much, but I didn’t know what else to do, I genuinely thought that the client was going to move forward with my plans with ME implementing them, not steal them and go away and do it for themselves. Of course, I’m delighted that they thought that my ideas were good enough to go ahead and use, but I gave away my time and knowledge for free.

My fault of course.

So how do you stop it?

Showing a prospect how you can help them is essential. They probably won’t work with you unless you prove you can. But the key is how you show them. Most people who run a service business provide two things—ideas and execution. Both are extremely valuable to your prospective clients and they should be paying you for each one. If you give your ideas away during the sales process, the only thing you have left to offer is your execution of those ideas. Sometimes your prospects can do the execution themselves, or use someone else. As I have just proved.

It’s deflating when your prospects go ahead and take your ideas and don’t use you. I’ve come across people who do it deliberately and you can usually tell those ones, but some often don’t really realise what they’re doing. Afteral, it was me that gave away my ideas for free.

So, next time this happens consider what your prospect clients needs to know in order for them to figure out if they want to hire you. They don’t need to know how you’re going to solve their problem, they only need to know that you can.

So, how do you show your prospects you’re capable of helping them? You  have to demonstrate how you’ve helped other clients in similar situations. Provide examples of case studies. Reveal your clients problem and how you managed to solve it. Just don’t give it all away.

And the moment this turns into ‘how’ then you tell them that they need to pay you for your consultancy, whether or not they decide to use you to implement the plans you set out.


The main thing you MUST get across is that you can solve the problem. Not HOW you’re going to solve it, but that you can...

6 years on..it’s still a learning curve for me too 🙂

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