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“If it were my own money, would I spend it on this project?”

For years I have asked myself this question before making a recommendation to a client. In fact, I included it in a brochure to promote my newly founded business in 1992.

Why ask it? Because if you don’t, you risk recommending projects that will make money for you, but won’t get results for your client.

Here are some examples from my experience:
Feature Articles – Sometimes a client or prospect desperately wants positive feature coverage, but doesn’t have a story angle the media would be interested in. It’s my job to let them know – and then think creatively to find an angle I can successfully “pitch” to an editor.
Brochures – My graphic designer associate and I once talked a client out of doing a brochure, and recommended direct mail pieces instead. We probably would have profited more from a brochure, but it wouldn’t have worked as well in selling the company’s services.
Special events – A major oil company wanted to do a bike race across the country. I pointed out that it made no sense from a PR standpoint to promote a mode of transportation that didn’t use their product…gasoline. We developed a different proposal that was more effective as well as less expensive.

By now I have enough experience to have confidence in whether an idea will work. If I don’t think it will, I tell the client that “If it were my money, I wouldn’t spend it this way.” That gets their attention. I used this criterion just last week with a client as we discussed his advertising budget. He appreciated the alternative recommendations we came up with.

In the long run, this is also the best approach for my business’s success. When clients get results from my PR efforts, they come back for more!

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