As I run around like a chicken with my head cut off preparing the final details of the long awaited release of “Tricks“, I can’t help but think about the long road I have gone down to get this movie out to the public. The saying that patience is a “virtue” is an under statement. I learned this because like many other indie films, “Tricks” doesn’t have a huge marketing budget. So what we have to use is creativity instead. During the journey of “Tricks”, I have been burned or ignored by publicists, distributors and media buyers. As I was surfing the Internet trying to figure out how to remedy these situations I was shocked to find that many small business go through this same thing. So based on my experience and the experience of other people I have read about and talked to, I put together a list of signs for budding entrepreneurs to know when they are being bullshitted by someone they are trying to do business with:
Sign Number 1. They start off returning your phone calls very promptly, then slowly fall off.
If you find yourself having to “chase down” somebody whom you previously had no problems getting in touch with, chances are they are bullshitting you. There could be many reasons for this, but the main reasons usually are – you have paid them or you have not. When someone is sincere about developing a relationship and doing business with you, they will take time to answer your questions, they don’t rush you off the phone and they don’t pressure you into making a sale. If you encounter people like this, they are usually scam artist or desperate (actually most scam artist are desperate). If they start pressuring you because you need more information and more time to decide so you can make and informed decision, then chances are they won’t do a quality job for you and they aren’t worth your energy to deal with them.
If you have already paid them and now you cannot get in touch with them or it has become extremely hard, I’m just hear to tell you that you have most likely been bullshitted and/or scammed. Before you pay anybody anything, make sure you have a clear contract upfront and make sure you have physical address on them (so besides needing to know where they live so you can go and whip their ass, you can also have papers served to them in case you have to file a suit.)
Sign Number 2. They can’t or refuse to provide you with any real references of their past work with other clients.
Now granted, some folks (especially in entertainment) are just starting out and may not have this type of information, but the majority of people do. And the ones who have just started out prices should reflect the fact that they are beginners. If you are working with someone who claims they are seasoned – do your due diligence and check them out. If you are looking for someone who claims they can help you promote your project, look to see what they were able to do for past projects. Did their past projects see a significant increase in sales? Did they get a lot of press? Radio play? Low advertising rates? If you check them out and most of the information you find is lackluster, then they probably can’t back up what they are saying and you will lose your money.
Sign Number 3. They are fast talkers.
Some people may disagree, but I have never dealt with a “fast-talker” who wasn’t full of shit. Keep in mind, there is a difference in being a fast talker and talking fast. I talk fast, always have. My mind races and I have a lot of things to say, so I have to make it a point to slow down. However, I am upfront with people, let them know what I can and cannot or will not do and always try to make sure it’s a win-win situation.
Fast-talkers are good at quotes or sound-bytes. They’ve rehearsed their speech or slogans many times. They tell you everything you want to hear and they rarely stop to listen to any of your input or questions. If you can get them to stop and ask them a question that throws them off of their pitch, they never quite answer the question. And worse, they rush you off of the phone and encourage you to call them when you are ready to do business. This is a pressure-tactic, an old one. They promise you the world, and you have only a certain amount of time to bite and if you don’t, your destiny will be lost forever! That’s the bullshit they sell you. And if you are desperate, you will go for it. And many weeks and many dollars later when they have produced nothing and suddenly cannot be reached, you will shake your head and curse yourself for not listening to that little voice in your head that said, “This guy is bullshitting me.”
That’s it for today. I am developing a series on why genuine relationships are so crucial to your career. Please check back and pass this along.