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Old May 9th, 2008, 12:30 AM   #1
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Should I call my customer?

I did an instructional DVD of my customer demonstrating operation of equipment to his rental customers. So the DVD is a not a sales video, nothing he would use to sell or demonstrate his personal product.
I would like to shop his competition and offer them one for their customers, if they have a need for one.
My contract says the usual stuff (thank you, internet) about me retaining the rights, he grants me use of it, yadda yadda yadda.
Should I give my customer a courtesy call, esp. since he is in the video, before showing the video as an example? If I do, what if he says no?
What is the proper etiquette and how would you handle it? I really need the work and so far it's the only one I have to show.
Thanks =)
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Old May 9th, 2008, 01:00 AM   #2
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I'm not sure if I understand exactly what you're asking, so I'm giving you two answers for the price of one. :)

If you're saying that you want to use this current DVD as an example in order to pitch similar kinds of DVD's to other companies, which would be completely tailored to those other companies' needs and which would be composed of new material, paid for by these other companies:

Nothing wrong with that. Have at it. No need to bother your client with a request as to whether that would be OK. The only exception here would be in cases where the DVD would give away trade secrets or something like that.

If you're saying that you'd like to sell THIS DVD, as it is, to your current client's competitors:

Your client paid you to create something with the thought that it would be useful to his customers. It may not be a direct sales tool for him, but since it falls under the customer service rubric, it is in fact an indirect sales tool. If you go and sell this video to others for their own use, in effect your client is paying to improve the customer service of his own competitors. You seem to be within your rights since your contract made clear that copyright was yours, but it seems a bit unethical to spring this idea on your client after he's already paid you. I think the only fair way to handle a situation like this is to discuss it before beginning the work.

I'd personally feel a little guilty about bringing something like this up to a client of mine at any time. If you decide that you have to pursue this option, you should definitely at least check with your client. If he vetoes the idea, that should probably be the end of it. It was his money that paid you, after all. And don't forget that one angry, dissatisfied, or disappointed client can spread the word of his bad experience and seriously hurt your reputation, potentially costing you all kinds of work in the future.
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Old May 9th, 2008, 02:08 AM   #3
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Oh, sorry if I was unclear. No, I don't want to sell it to someone else, just to show it as an example to give them ideas for what they could do and show them an example of something I've done. Where I was a little fuzzy on the issue was that he was demonstrating it himself so I thought I should check with him first because he's in it.
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Old May 9th, 2008, 02:18 AM   #4
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A lot might depend on the industry and how well known your client is... and I could see it swinging both ways.

I have a clause in my contracts saying something to the effect that any footage can be used for demo or promotional purposes, i.e. to promote to other clients. Probably be good form for the future, for this case, it's hard to tell what would be best...
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Old May 9th, 2008, 02:21 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kell Smith View Post
Oh, sorry if I was unclear. No, I don't want to sell it to someone else, just to show it as an example to give them ideas for what they could do and show them an example of something I've done. Where I was a little fuzzy on the issue was that he was demonstrating it himself so I thought I should check with him first because he's in it.
Ah, OK. Like I was saying then, if you're just using it as a sample for demonstration purposes, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that and there's no need at all to ask for the client's permission. It probably wouldn't hurt to add a clause to future contracts which says that you reserve the right to do this sort of thing, but I think in general this kind of use is to be expected, and the fact that you've retained copyright means it really isn't an issue from a rights standpoint. Add to that the fact that there's nothing at all unfair or unethical about it, and you end up at "go for it."
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Old May 9th, 2008, 02:33 AM   #6
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Thanks folks =)
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Old May 9th, 2008, 10:38 AM   #7
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Business-wise, it might not be the wisest move to start pitching your client's competitors. Morally, it might be fine, but your existing, and possibly returning customer might bristle at that. Just make sure you don't mind burning that bridge like that.
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Old May 9th, 2008, 10:49 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Eric Darling View Post
Business-wise, it might not be the wisest move to start pitching your client's competitors. Morally, it might be fine, but your existing, and possibly returning customer might bristle at that. Just make sure you don't mind burning that bridge like that.
I'd argue that business-wise, it wouldn't be the wisest move to forgo an entire potential customer base simply to please one customer.

I'm sure both Kell's client and his competitors buy GE light bulbs. :) It is very common for competing companies to buy particular products/services from single, common suppliers. There's no reason at all for Kell to expect that his client might "bristle." Kell is a third party and the client does not own him or even employ him in the traditional sense.

If there's some specific quality of the client's particular business model that would justify any desire that Kell not work with competing enterprises, he should have asked for something to that effect to be in the contract.
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Old May 9th, 2008, 11:17 AM   #9
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Really, it would mostly be a pitch to perform the same service (video) for customer B that I performed for customer A. It's a video they need to explain to customers who rent their equipment, how to safely operate it, to give them information.
I see both sides so I'm torn.
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Old May 9th, 2008, 11:46 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jarrod Whaley
I'd argue that business-wise, it wouldn't be the wisest move to forgo an entire potential customer base simply to please one customer.

I'm sure both Kell's client and his competitors buy GE light bulbs.
First of all, we don't sell commodities (i.e. light bulbs) to our clients. We're selling a creative service. That demands a certain relationship of trust in order to be successful and to expect repeat business.

My advice was that it "might" not be a good idea - not that it necessarily wasn't. I think it can be potentially dangerous to rashly burn bridges that you've spent a fair amount of time building in the first place. Just because Kell has been paid for a finished job doesn't mean this same client won't be eager to pay him again for another new job. Drumming up new customers is generally much harder than convincing previously satisfied customers to buy again.

My advice was about being careful - about looking before leaping and what not. I've been successful in business for over 8 years largely because I take care of my clients (especially those who have bought my services repeatedly). I've also found some success in re-marketing ideas that have worked for one client to another. It's just that I take care not to burn those proverbial bridges to money.
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Old May 9th, 2008, 12:03 PM   #11
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One (possibly) repeat customer is not as valuable as an entire group of potential other customers. It doesn't make sense to please one customer fully if doing so costs you thousands of dollars worth of work from other, more reasonable clients.

I say "more reasonable" because a client who expects you to give up lots of future clients for his own benefit is being unreasonable, and furthermore, has no right to make that kind of demand to begin with. There are limits to customer satisfaction, and throwing away numerous future opportunities goes beyond that limit.

I'm speaking generally here and specific situations might call for a different approach, of course.
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Old May 9th, 2008, 12:18 PM   #12
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I guess we run our businesses differently. My advice was general, too. And yes, specific situations call for specific measures. That's sort of what I was trying to say. I'm not suggesting Kell forsake potential new business for potential repeat business. That would definitely be foolhardy. I have no idea what the state of mind of his client is, nor does it matter in the end. My advice is still word to the wise. If you always throw caution to the wind you'll reap what you have sown, which isn't much. Go forth and create - recklessly or otherwise!
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Old May 9th, 2008, 12:22 PM   #13
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Demo dvd

Can you make a demo version of this video, editing it in a way that it highlights the equipment and not your client? For example, can you just put in close-ups, say, his hands gripping a part of the machinery and turning a lever and other similar shots? So the focus would be on why your potential customer would benefit from your services, instead of focusing on the competitor himself.

This would be a scaled-down version of your original DVD but still done effectively enough so that it sells itself. Maybe this way you can find a middle ground in these circumstances.
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Old May 9th, 2008, 04:20 PM   #14
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Your question arises because you haven't yet asked yourself an essential question.

Are you primarily interested in growing your business by increasing your service sales?

Or are you more interested in building revenue by growing relationships with your clients and increasing billings WITHIN your client base?

Most sales data says it's more cost efficient to upsell current clients, over "churning" current ones and replacing them with new accounts.

I also find it interesting that the pure SALES approach tends to concentrate on what YOU need - while the latter is usually focused on increasing your understanding of what your CLIENT needs.

Call it the "sales" approach - contrasted with the "relationship" approach.

Both can work. One might be more useful given the nature of your abilities, your market, or just your preferences.

In my experience, the simple SALES approach directs you to spend a lot of time selling and re-selling the same kinds of services over and over to new customers.

While the RELATIONSHIP approach is a slower building of trust and a deeper understanding and "partnership" with each of fewer clients.

If your market has a LOT of smaller potential customers, the sales approach might naturally trump the relationship approach. If the field you want to work in has fewer, larger potential clients - the relationship approach might be a lot better. And if so, be VERY careful about telling Client A that you're also gonna try to develop a similar deep and trusting relationship with their competitors!

Only your patient self-assessment can determine which approach your market and personality will do best with.

Good luck.
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Old May 12th, 2008, 11:06 PM   #15
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Update

Thanks everyone for your valuable perspectives.
I guess what I'm doing requires more the sales approach - but the relationship approach is also very important as customer service has got to be first on the list. That's what's going to build a reputation.
I would forego new clients to honor the wishes of a current one as long as the requests for privacy were reasonable.

In this situation, I finally handled it this way:
I had something else to call him about, so while we were on the phone I simply asked him, "do you know anyone else in your industry who could use a video like this?" He began naming the names of some companies. Then I confirmed with him that it was okay to use his thing as a demo, since he was the one demonstrating it. He said sure, and that they could call him if they had any questions. Also, as I research, I realize that these companies are similar, but not exactly direct competition. They rent a wider selection of equipment, while he is very specialized. So it's not a direct threat.

Had he not been comfortable with that, I would probably have talked to him about putting together an abbreviated version, as mentioned above. If he was still not comfortable, even though the contract says I can, I would have honored his request and found another way to put together a demo.

Thanks again everyone!
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