Don't be an a$$hole

Nuf said, right? Apparently not.

We all like to work with industry colleagues and create mutually beneficial collaborations, right? Of course we do. We like team work and referrals. But what do you do if that collaboration starts off on a bad foot?

I have a client that asked my advice on this very topic and I wanted to share my advice and response here because I think we could all learn something from it.

The names have been changed to protect the innocent until proven guilty here. Not really. But whatever.

You meet at a networking event. The beer and wine is flowing and everyone is having a great time and talking up a storm.

Joe: Hi, I'm Joe. (Looking at your name tag) Joe: And what do you do Sarah? (Exchanging business cards that they look at briefly but don't really pay attention too) Sarah: I own a branding and marketing firm that specializes in consumer understandings. What do you do Joe? Joe: I, too, am in marketing. We should work together sometime. As a matter of fact, I need help in identifying my target consumers. Send me some information. Sarah: Cool. I'll do that as soon as I get in in the morning.

Sarah gets in the office the next day super stoked to send Joe an email about her services because it could be big and she wants to make good connections that lead to new clients.

You know this scene. You've been there. You're so excited.

Sarah sends Joe an email with the stuff they talked about for the project and her pricing and even throws in a discount of 30% because she really wants to make the connection. The response she gets back is this:


Frankly, I'm insulted by the price you gave me. I thought we were friends? While, I appreciate the discount, I don't think you understand what this could mean. I would probably be a re-accuring client and would rave about your services meaning a lot more clients for you.

I work with other marketers and have created relationships with them that get them more clients and I don't ask for any affiliate kickbacks or anything. All I ask in return is mutual respect and that you refer me to your clients and rave about my services. We all make money then. Win, Win.

I'm not looking to get something for free here but I do think that this price is too high to start building this kind of relationship. I like to give referrals and my clients take my advise and buy products and services from those businesses. That means more business for you. Think of working with me as good PR - you will get exposure and good word of mouth marketing and that is worth so much more than the discount you are giving me.



What does Sarah do with this? What an ass, right? I can totally get into the psychology of this email and tear it apart to what all means but we need to figure out your respond to this.

This is my first response:


Fuck off you prick. We don't need crazy ass clients like you making us miserable.

Have a great day,


P.S. Your your website sucks. Thank you.

But don't say that. Its kinda bad business. Don't burn any bridges because you don't want him bad mouthing you to people but at this point I would stay firm with price. Reverse this situation on him and give him the opportunity to see what he can get for his budget. If this is how he responds to a price email then he is going to be a nightmare to work with and you don't want to work for nothing if he is going to be a nightmare. I think the goal is to come out of this where he might not refer you because of price but he can at least say that you handled it with dignity. You actually might want to say something like this:


I'm sorry that you feel this way. While we do greatly appreciate collaboration and referrals from industry professionals, we produce a high quality product that we put a lot of time and energy into producing and are very proud to put our brand on it. We strive very hard to maintain a high quality brand with consistency throughout all of our products and services and a high standard of customer service with all of our clients. I don't want to offend you but we do need to charge for our services and maybe the best plan of action is for you to tell us what you are looking to accomplish and what your budget is. That will be the best way to get the best bang for your buck so to speak. We look forward to working with you.



Tactful, yet you stood your ground. Hopefully, he will respect that you stood up to him and demand what you are worth.

Remember, you have talent and are good at what you do. You are worth what you charge! I'm telling you - YOU are worth what you charge. Don't let anyone tell you any different.

Let me know. What are some of your tips for handling situations like this? Leave them in the comments below so that we can all share in the knowledge.

Until next time, keep aligning your business with your inner rockstar.