You turned down a project? What the…
Yes, we did. It’s true. Even in this market. Why? We knew that one of the characters involved would be a stumbling block to a happy process. We are honored to be good friends with Gillian Muessig, founder of SEO Moz. She has engrained in us the importance of corporate culture. A core distinction of Moz’s TAGFEE is that they do not try to be all things to all people. She learned that on the job. It is one of the best lessons a business can learn. Here at 2C, we call it, LITMUS. It is the verbal expression of our corporate culture.
How to Create Your Corporate LITMUS Test
Knowing to turn down projects doesn’t happen on the fly. It requires that the leaders of the organization is having mindful moments and strategy meetings, where what makes your company what and who it is, and who your clientele will be, is hashed out and decided upon. What kind of character and personalities will they have? What kind of budgets will they have? What kind of projects will they request?
Without establishing your organization’s LITMUS test (or corporate culture), you will not be on the lookout for both the right kind of clients, and also those mischief makers. This is where many companies struggle. Constantly putting out fires because they inadvertently partnered with people who were not like-minded. Partnerships not only include who you do business with, but also covers who you hire.
Here are our Core Values: The LITMUS Test.
We not only put ourselves through the LITMUS test each week to see if we are continuing to be authentically what we say we are, but we also re-read our “What our clients will be like” list, to remind ourselves to be a sieve, and to let the unhappy ones fall on through. Corporate culture doesn’t happen just because you wrote something down. You have to keep testing yourselves and your clients against your values. Even the most well meaning person can slip.
“But what if they hate our company,” you ask…
You might think sending those emails that say “it’s not a good fit” will end up making people mad at your company, and your brand will suffer. And sure, there are people with attitude problems everywhere. People with entitlement issues, or negative attitudes universally hang out with folks of the same ilk, so we don’t mind if they tell a few of those that we aren’t ‘nice’. We didn’t want to do business with those friends, either.
The ones whose opinions really count to us, are the ones that partner well with others, who value our expertise, and don’t need their hands held all the time. Our clientele is full of people who value what we do, who are loyal, and who also understand how we use our time, and trust that we will deliver a great end-product on time and on budget. And you know what? They just naturally send us their friends and family. Their word of mouth is so powerful that we don’t need to worry about a few naysayers.
How to Word the Respectful Let Down
Of course, you don’t want to tell people that they suck. On the other hand, it can be good to let them know that is was a personality or character mismatch issue that was the drawback, not your inability to do the project. Letting prospective clients know that one of the major values of your company is that everyone involved must have a good time doing what they do, is a positive method of letting them know why you are not going to bid their project. That way they have something in hand. No guessing. They now have the choice to allow the universe to help them change and become a person that people want to work with, or not.
In the meantime…you profit!
Depending on the people involved, this can result in more respect for your company! Recently, the Director of Marketing approached us about a project. It really sounded like an exciting opportunity, and that it was just the kind of project we had been looking for. All was well until we met the COO. During the whole meeting, she was condescending, disrespectful, interruptive, and entitlement was oozing from every fiber of her being. My Director of Development and I shot each other the, “well this sure isn’t a LITMUS experience” look, and while we shook hands in our good bye’s, we knew that a well worded email was the next step in the process.
I took the weekend to respond, not being sure if I would receive a tirade, or not. Instead, as many times is the case, I received a very nice response from the Director of Marketing:
“I appreciate your quick response when I first reached out to you, and your time in meeting with you last week. It’s often difficult to not bid a project in this market, so I appreciate your aplomb in respectfully declining to move forward with us on a bid. That says a lot about your company. We wish you the best!”
Money isn’t everything. In fact, money is not much in the scheme of things. You certainly cannot buy respect with it. Our company prefers to deal in commodities that you cannot buy with money, and in this case, I feel we made a profit!
Desire an Online Partner with good character? Contact Us.