Qualifying Prospects With the MAD-FU Formula
In a recent issue of my e-newsletter, "The Direct Response Letter," I wrote about how many of my readers send me their URLs and ask me to critique their websites for free, with no offer to pay me for it ... And how that irks me and I refuse to do it.
In his Oct. 28, 2014 article, Denny Hatch took me to task and said I was making an error refusing my subscribers their free critiques.
His reason: "Every person who writes in for help is a potential customer or client."
As fond as I am of Denny, I must warn you to ignore this advice because, as it happens, every person who asks you for help is not a potential customer or client. In fact, very few of them are.
It follows that to work for free for every person who asks for help is an enormous waste of time and a huge drain on your productivity—a very bad strategy for building a business.
The only people you should give free advice to, if you insist on doing so—and I am not a big fan of giving my services away free to anyone—are qualified prospects. And you can easily determine whether any person is a qualified prospect in minutes using the "MAD-FU" formula.
MAD-FU is a series of five questions that separates the freebie seekers who will never hire or pay you from serious prospects who might buy your services. Let's go through the formula:
- M—Money. Does the prospect have a budget sufficient to pay the prices you charge? I find that virtually 100 percent of my subscribers who ask for a free website critique balk when I name my standard fee—and none ever pull the trigger, pleading poverty.
- A—Authority. Does the person contacting you have the authority to write the purchase order or check? Or must he go back to a committee for approval? I prefer to deal with the decision-maker.
- D—Desire. The person wants a second opinion on their website, no question. Do they desire it strongly enough to pay for it? Usually not.
- F—Fit. Is this person a good fit for the types of clients I work with? Most of my subscribers are newbie solopreneurs on a shoestring budget. I work with experienced direct marketers who understand what professionals charge and are ready to pay those fees.
- U—Urgency. Does the person have an immediate need to solve a website or other marketing problem? Or are they just curious? I like to work with clients whose need is immediate and can make quick decisions.
Denny says he will review anyone's and everyone's marketing and give them some suggestions because he is "trolling for clients."
I do not troll for clients; I cherry pick. I am highly selective in who I work with. I do not do critiques, consultations, or advice for free. I do help clients define exactly what they need in a brief free phone call. I then send them an estimate stating the work they want done, the cost, and the timing.
Denny's approach works for him as he has been doing it for years and is enormously successful. He says it only takes three minutes to scan an effort and come up with a couple of helpful comments.
This doesn't work for me. I have a full client roster and a large list of active projects, all with deadlines. I cannot interrupt my work on the copy I am writing for a paying client to do a free copy review for a nonpaying client in the hopes they will hire me.
I advise you not to give free reviews or advice to everyone who asks you either, until you qualify each one using the MAD FU formula.
Bob Bly is a freelance copywriter who has written copy for more than 100 clients including IBM, AT&T, Praxair, Intuit, Forbes, and Ingersoll-Rand. McGraw-Hill calls Bob “America’s top copywriter” and he is the author of 90 books, including “The Copywriter's Handbook.” Find him online at www.bly.com or call (973) 263-0562.