Saturday, April 19, 2008

Marketing Strategy and Conflict of Interest

Being as that I support myself by providing services, I want people to engage my services.

In an effort to get people to engage my services, I engage in marketing practices. I try to put my name out there in a way that will interest people and will convince them that my services would be a good investment.

There are, of course, different ways to do this.
For my part, among other things, I have chosen to write a blog that addresses issues that my clients work with, and that I work with in my life as a writer. My thought is to give people real ideas and real assistance so that they believe that my services will be of worth. If you've found material in this blog useful, then you have reason to believe that I can help.

But this strategy has a potential negative impact: people might find my free assistance to render paying for services unnecessary. Or it may lead one to think that my suggestions are a useful supplement to working with a different person.

I couldn't do it any other way, though. Every road has a risk. I look at websites of other writing coaches sometimes. I found one that had "tips"--it had four different "tips", each of which reduced to "If you have a problem in realm X, you should hire us." I couldn't do that; it doesn't seem convincing to me.

It's an interesting conundrum. I believe in my own abilities. But conflicts of interest are insidious: they may work at levels we can't easily analyze. This is why judges are supposed to recuse themselves in the case of conflicts of interest. It's well and good to say "Sure, I have a conflict of interest, but I'll still judge the case on its merits." But practicing that is hard. And it can be hard for others to trust that decision.

I'm writing this partly because a client of mine asked my opinion on hiring the services of someone who is essentially my competitor, and giving a good answer requires my recognition that I have an interest in the matter as my client's budget is limited. I intend to do my best to give an honest answer, but the conflicting interest is present.

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