While Bob and John gave that line to their characters Pindar and Ernesto in their little parable about The Five Laws of Stratospheric Success, anyone who follows Bob knows that he’s been using that quote as his “Golden Rule of Business” since before his first bestseller, Endless Referrals, was published. It’s one of the most basic truths of how to attract and keep clients and customers.
The problem is that most people I hear repeat that quote leave off the first phrase. They talk about how important the relationship is, and they’re right. But they neglect the “all things being equal” and get upset when they lose clients they thought were “loyal.”
I thought about Bob’s “Golden Rule” yesterday while working with a client who was facing a dilemma in choosing a vendor.
The client is a fine jewelry designer in New York. She’s preparing a new collection for a show and, as anyone in that industry will tell you, the only thing more important than photography is the design. Maybe not even that, because great photography can make even poor design look pretty good.
She has a photographer she’s depended on for years. This photographer is dependable and very good, but working with her requires my client to travel to her studio carrying thousands of dollars in precious stones and metals (not to mention hundreds of hours and untold moments of inspiration) and spend most of a day at the photo shoot. But she really likes this photographer, they’ve become friends, and that relationship is important to her.
She also has the opportunity to work with a photographer who has more experience in shooting and positioning luxury goods. This photographer is a bit brusque, but efficient, and the results are dependably amazing. Working with this photographer will require significantly more money, but it will also take a lot less time and is pretty much guaranteed to yield the kind of images the client needs to represent the collection she’s been toiling over for months.
She’d like to continue to do business with her friend, but all things are NOT equal and she has a lot riding on her decision.
Here’s the nutshell version of what I told her, “Any professional you work with who is not committed enough to your success to support and encourage your decision to work with the most qualified professional for any specific task isn’t someone you should continue to trust.”