5500% return on investment? No thanks.

I like small clients.

(Don’t get me wrong, all you petite marketers out there.)

I like large clients of course. In fact in some ways I like them more, with their understanding timelines and their appetising Purchase Order pads.

But small clients are the grass routes of the economy, the work we do for them matters more, and the lines of communication are short. Decisions get made fast, the work gets used, thanks are generally offered with genuine gratitude, and invoices get paid.

Now a really nice lady called me yesterday evening. She is a small client, but a savvy one. She knew her own business, she had some basic feel for marketing, and I happily gave her 45 minutes of my thinking about her business problem on the phone.

This morning she was on the phone again. We spent another 30 minutes discussing her options. And we agreed that as a temporary measure until I return from vacation (she wanted to act immediately), a single page, well targetted sales letter which she could get out to the hundred or so appropriate business owners local to her base, and so core to her servicing target, would be her best bet.

“What does that cost?”

I love this bit. Always love it.

“I do work like that through my Great Sales Letters site I explained. “I charge £725 + VAT for a 1-2 page letter.”

There’s a pause. (You knew there was going to be, didn’t you?)


“No. Seven hundred and twenty five pounds”, I explained politely. “Plus VAT.”

“It costs £725 to write a letter?”

“Well. No.” I replied and took a deep breath.

“It costs £25 to write a letter. And it costs £700 for me to sort your muddled and unfocused business model into something approaching presentability, help you develop an offer around which to build a call to action, and then organise your case into a compelling form in which I can present it before a court of 100 local business owners, any one of whom, when they find your story set out in this cogent and persuasive manner, may very well hand you £5,000, or £10,000 or £20,000 worth of business. So let’s say we get a 4% response, and let’s say they take the middle road and each spend £10,000 with you. You will earn £40,000. Which will be a 5,500% return on your £725 investment in the letter.”

There’s a long silence at the other end of the line.

“Let me think about it”.

Which is why I love small clients.