I just received another excellent email from Patrick McKenzie, and in it he tells one of my favourite stories. I never tire of hearing him repeat it because it perfectly exemplifies how people underestimate the value they are providing.
Anyhow, after we got our coffee, Thomas invited me into their conference room. We talked shop for three hours: Thomas and his VP wanted to hear what I’d do to market their products and services offering. I had been writing about how I marketed Bingo Card Creator for a while, and started applying some of the lessons learned to their content creation strategy.
At the end of the conversation, Thomas said something which, no exaggeration, changed my life.
Thomas: Some food for thought: If this hadn’t been a coffee date, but rather a consulting engagement, I’d be writing you a check right now.
Me: Three hours at $100 an hour or whatever an intermediate programmer is worth would only be $300. Why worry about that?
Thomas: I got at least $15,000 of value out of this conversation.
You’ll notice that I immediately thought the proposed transaction was time-for-money, but Thomas (the savvy business owner) saw the same conversation as an exchange of business-results-for-money. He correctly anticipated that Matasano would be able to take that advice and turn it into a multiple of $15,000. (They did, within two weeks, but that isn’t my story to tell.)
I highly recommend you go read the rest.