Last week I was working with a new client that I am mentoring; we were initially discussing how to price her offering but her business’s website quickly emerged as a key focus of the conversation. After successfully growing the site into a directory of businesses that benefit customers and business owners alike, her next step is to consider monetizing this. How should, would, could she do this? At this point enter Jerry Maguire and Lesson one. I could almost hear Jerry, the ‘has it all’ successful sports agent from the iconic film yelling “Show me the money!” to his American football-playing client Rod, to stay hired. At this point of the film, Rod isn’t interested in people, relationships, or ‘free’- he’s all about the money and profit. Thankfully my mentee and I are taking a more discussion-based approach and so we were both spared from my yelling! Our conversation continued as we joined a Clubhouse get-together based around the disruptive ideals of the book “Be More Pirate”. A group of thinkers from a wide range of sectors, roles, and backgrounds debating giving away your products & services for free. Does giving away a service for free show that it has no value? Or is it a way of connecting with potential customers and showcasing your skills? Do we always need to “show the money” to have a successful business relationship? In the film, Jerry does show his client the money – but unexpectedly – by building a relationship and improving his Rod as a player – the (huge) profits follow. More on that in lesson two below. But in terms of “free”, there’s no right or wrong answer here, though it is possible to get it right and wrong! Giving product & services away should be done with a clear understanding of the goal of doing so, the costs and risks – and a measure of success to decide whether the approach is working. It may be right to give away your product – but it should never devalue your overall business in the process. However “Show me a people-based sustainable, mutually rewarding, and profitable long term business model” isn’t too snappy – so Jerry you definitely win on that front.

Lesson two from Jerry Maguire is how important building a personal relationship with your clients is – I love the personal relationship he builds with Rod Tidwell, they become close and produce results together that are mutually beneficial.

In my own working life, I feel strongly that getting to know your clients, understanding them, and becoming a team allows you to get the best out of each other.  I am so lucky that I work with great clients both locally and nationally and celebrate their wins; in the film, the look of satisfaction on Jerry’s face as he secures the multimillion-dollar contract for Rod sums it all up for me.

Taking the time to build rapport allows me to bring in personal examples to highlight business pinch points. One of my clients and I were talking about the concept of procrastination – something that was causing him an issue with a project. We talked through different causes of procrastination, from motivation to lack of knowledge or fear of failure. I gave the example of a broken blind in my house, repairing it just didn’t happen – despite having the motivation! This was relatively simple – I didn’t have the knowledge or time to spend on fixing the blind – and until I recognised that, it remained broken. For my client seeing his issue as a potential knowledge challenge rather than definitely a motivation issue, gave him a new way to view both the problem – and potential solutions. Working together we built a plan to deliver his project. And if you’re wondering about that blind? Shutters on order. I think Jerry would approve.

The final lesson from Jerry Maguire is one I often quote “Help me, Help you, Help Me, Help you.”  I use this to illustrate the point of thinking about our customer’s perspective, sharing information back and forth and the virtuous circle this creates. It also reminded me of this recent post on Linkedin from Michelle Eshkeri asking people to share support for other businesses – what a brilliant idea! This led to support for two of my clients Primas Custom Drums (see the previous blog) and the Maidstone Gin Distillery. Receiving testimonials and support is powerful – I have received feedback in the past few weeks that have been very uplifting – providing insight that I am doing the right things now, as I build my new business, and also that they may encourage future customers to work with me in the future. When I have a good experience with a business I pay attention to providing support to them, from liking their SM posts to an online review to a personal recommendation – I know they are important to the businesses they go to. Most recently it was great to give positive feedback directly to our brilliant plumber Plumbed Right).  These always come from a place of truth and are my way of “Help me, Help you, Help me, Help you.”

Have you given a testimonial recently? Whether it be for your local handyman, someone in your team, a small business you work with, a multinational business – it matters;  the world is a tough place at the moment and the power of a testimonial is great. Just ask Jerry.