What an Old Phone Repairman Taught Me About Flawless Marketing

  • Post category:Articles
  • Post last modified:November 1, 2022

It was summer 2018 and my phone, an old Motorola G-something, had broken down. After taking it to 5 different repair shops, one old guy in his small cornered-street shop accepted to have a look at it. 

“Mmh, I see, he mumbled. It will be complicated, so I’ll cut you a deal. If I manage to repair it, I will charge you 25 euros. If I don’t, I won’t charge you anything.”

I accepted. After one hour, some swear words, and the use of a welding machine, my phone was repaired. 

I said thank you, paid 25 euros, and left with one of the greatest marketing lessons I ever learned. The art of making an offer your customer can’t refuse. 

BuT hOw CaN I gEt MoRe ClIeNtS?

Becoming a freelancer is easy. All you need is to quit your job and change your Twitter bio. Congrats! You are now a freelancer. The question that remains is will you be able to stay a freelancer and find customers? That’s the tough part. 

Thousands of articles on Medium and other places have dealt with this topic. “Build an email list”, “write on Linkedin”, “answer questions on Quora”, “give value for free”, “establish yourself as an expert”, they tell you. 

These tactics were great in 2013. Today, everyone is doing it, which has significantly decreased their efficiency. 

The next trick in the freelancer’s toolbox is “offer value”, “get in the head of your customer”, “sell them what they’ll buy”. But the truth is that there are thousands of other freelancers offering services as valuable as yours, sometimes for cheaper.

When I was looking to get my phone repaired, I visited 5 shops before getting it done in the 6th one. And the reason why I did it in this shop is that the repairman made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. 

Make Them an Offer They Can’t Refuse

When the repairman told me that I’d pay only if he succeeded, he knew I would have to accept his offer. Why? Because there was no alternative. Refusing his offer would have forced me to buy a new phone or find a new shop, which I obviously didn’t want to. 

He knew the problem was complicated to fix and he knew I wanted it fixed. But he also knew that I would not risk paying without getting any results because customers don’t like risk. We want to get value in exchange for the money we give. We don’t like paying for nothing. 

By guaranteeing that I would only pay if he could deliver what I wanted, he shifted the transaction risk from the customer’s side (mine) onto the provider’s side (his). The French call this “satisfait, ou remboursé” (“happy with your purchase, or we refund you”). 

When you make customers an offer they can’t refuse, you automatically dismiss all the competition out there.

Most service providers ask to be paid before the delivery of the service, and most don’t offer any guarantee if what they provide doesn’t work.

This is a significant risk for the client, a risk they seldom wish to take, which outlines why reviews, testimonials, and word of mouth are so important. 

When you commit to delivering results and offer your customer a full refund in case your work does not yield any results, you make them an offer they can’t refuse. They win either way, and no one ever said no to winning. 

The Bottom Line

If you are certain about what you offer, you should be comfortable getting paid only if what you deliver delivers the value you promise.

This way of marketing yourself and your services will enable you to build a reputation of someone that guarantees the value they deliver, which is the type of safety customers are looking for in service providers. 

If you make your customers an offer they can’t refuse, you’ll have so much customers you’ll be able to choose who you decide to work with. Finding work won’t be a problem anymore. The work will be looking for you. 

Photo by Jan Canty on Unsplash

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