Let me start by saying that I come from a long line of small business owners. My grandfather owned two Stewart's Root Beer stands (yes, that's true!), and both my parents are small business owners. I feel in some ways, this has made me really think about the value of time. Time is money — both yours and mine.

I'd rather a potential client know what it's like to work with me before pulling the trigger in a big way: investing lots of time and money into our relationship.

Note: A great discovery call or pitch does not equate to great work

Sales makes me feel icky, and analyzing data is really what makes me tick. Let's work towards less ick and more tick, leaving the sales to someone else.

Here's what we can accomplish WITHOUT a discovery call

Data First. Let's Get on the Same Page.

A good consultant will not want to advise you and your project without seeing any data. I say this as someone who holds a certificate in Big Data Analytics from MIT. The qualitative and quantitive data are what drive strategy forward, and while it may seem uncomfortable for some who aren't tech savvy, it's my job to walk you through your numbers, answering your questions with deeper knowledge than my personal anecdotes. If a consultant advises without even an ounce of data, he/she is likely a novice.

It's more productive to open up a conversation with all the data transparent on the table, and anyone who uses tons of buzzwords to sell you isn't someone you want in your corner. It's the most effective use of my time and my potential client's time to be transparent about the possibilities with a no BS approach to data...because you can physically see it when we start this way.

Do a Small Project Together.

I usually start by proposing a digital marketing audit or strategy so the client can see how I work and the quality of my work. Most importantly, I'm providing the client with a valuable piece of information that gives some more background knowledge (including measurable metrics) for understanding the successes of a campaign, regardless of who he/she works with in the future. For reference, here's a teeny-tiny piece of what you'd get from an audit with me:

The total bonus here: My potential client can bring this audit to the next person he/she may potentially work with if we end up not gel-ing.

I sometimes think about client relationships like dating (said in my best Carrie Bradshaw voice). You'll have long-term partnerships, but sometimes, one date is good enough. After all, this isn't an episode of "Married at First Sight," so it's ok to dip a toe in by doing a small project to see where things go without committing to a retainer of headache.

To soothe your woes, here are some real world reviews of my strategy report:

There's plenty more where that came from. You can see all my reviews here.

Call Time. Reverse Your Thinking.

After doing a small project like an audit, a 30-45 minute call makes sense. We're starting with transparent numbers and a standard for work quality. Less discovery and more analytic data.

Seeing Is Believing.

I often tell people who email me asking for a discovery call that I get a lot of requests, but I also want to make sure my retainer and project-based clients are getting what I've promised them. To make that 100% happen, I need to be incredibly efficient with my time, and I want my clients to know they are my priority. If we end up swiping right on one another, I want my clients to be confident knowing I'm walking-the-walk instead of talking-the-talk. All of this starts with my philosophy on discovery calls.

And I get it. I've had people say things like, "Do you seriously expect me to type out everything I need to tell you?" My answer is yes, sort of. Realistically, my answer is let's get on the same page, and most of the information I need is inside of your Google Analytics or alternately something I can see just by having your website URL. Additionally, getting an outsider's perspective on the way your consumer facing site looks before you tell me anything is a fantastic way to get some objectivity into your overall message. At that point, with that data, let's talk about how that impacts your goals.

Most importantly, what I've learned from that single interaction—that is a real response someone sent me—without spending 30-45 minutes on a discovery call, is this isn't going to work. I 100% do not want to work with a person who I don't see eye-to-eye with and neither should you.

And just like that, I saved both of us time and money. That was easy.

Now, let's start a small project. Send me an email, and tell me about your brand.


P.S. Click for some other gems of knowledge from understanding the role of social media in eCommerce to analyzing your traffic funnels.

Photos by Ashley Burns Photography