I was chatting with a friend and client the other day about what one of her biggest struggles and/or pet peeves is when it comes to running a solo-operation retail store. Emphatically she said “The Askers”. I replied – “The Askers?” She shook her head, and proceeded to tell me she gets inundated with donation requests from every Tom, Dick and Hannah out there. It drives her nuts. Ok….I get it, I think? We continued….
I know this woman well, she is a giver, a lover and not a fighter – but I saw flames in those eyes. Wow! After calming her a bit – we continued on. I had my marketing hat on, so I’m thinking to myself “She understands the importance of brand expansion and for consumer goods, it’s all about the touch, the feel the experience – so shouldn’t she want to share her love a bit. Get her name out there? And help someone at the same time. I didn’t say anything – remember, flames in her eyes.
But then I got it…she is being taken advantage of and that is NEVER a good thing. (Sigh)
So many of us sit on non-profit boards or have children/grandchildren who are constantly having an event to raise money. All noble, all worthy – but there are rules of engagement when it comes to being an ASKER.
Don’t be this person (as told by my client)
“I had someone walk into my studio as many do asking for a donation for their silent auction, raffle, blablabla to raise funds for their “thing”. None of these people have ever met me, never asked about my work, never partook in any conversation other than to ask if I can give them something. While I would like to be a generous soul, I am increasingly put off by this and others who simply think I’ll just poop out a piece of art at whim because they don’t think I am worth being paid for it.”
OUCH! I felt her pain immediately. It was an aha moment for me. I get asked to sponsor every event known to man in my area – so on some level I get it, but I’m surely not hit up as much as a retail shop with a store front. Double Ouch.
After much pondering with my now much calmer friend – we developed the rules of engagement. So here goes…
- Never ask a business owner for a donation unless you shop there.
- Never assume a small business owner NEEDS to spread the love of their brand and therefor you are doing THEM a favor by asking them for a donation.
- YOU Spread the love – don’t ask your favorite store each and every time you need something. Your ASKING will get old, quite quickly.
- Make sure you give them LOTS of credit at your event – not just a name in a book. Woop it up, announce it, give them love.
- If you WIN something at an event and like the product – go to the store and tell them, buy something more. That’s what it’s all about.
Quid Pro Quo.
So that’s my friend’s story I promised to tell. Be nice to retailers – they need to make a buck too! And by all means, if you support them and spend your money there, SURE ask them for a donation every once in a while.