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I belong to a business networking group and at a recent meeting one of our members mentioned that while business had been good, he was frequently being asked for advice, but there was no way to monetize the time he had given them. This made me think. When I sold television advertising, if we had an extra availability at the last minute for say, a sporting event, it was good practice to place a client’s commercial and run it for them at no charge. The strategy being better to serve a client than to run a promotional spot. The choice had to be made carefully, because we didn’t want clients to come to expect this and we may not always be able to deliver. It was also wise to take care of large sponsors or clients whose business we were trying to grow.

This applies in our strange, new world because most businesspeople, in particular, those who provide services, are always cautioned not to give away their time as it is their only billable asset. But these times may provide the exception that proves the rule. I do not believe it is bad practice to provide advice or a service on the house, especially in a unique time, as long as it is merchandised.

To go back to my original scenario. When we provided a no charge commercial to a client, we didn’t just run it and walk away. I made sure that the next day the client was notified. “We had a last-minute availability in then game last night, thought of you and gave you an extra spot.”

To me, this is making lemonade out of lemons. We used time that was going unsold, we provided value to the client, and we made sure they knew it. In a competitive world you look for whatever edge you can get.

So, no matter what your business is you can always get a little extra mileage with clients with a little merchandising done correctly.

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