To retain clients’ loyalty and attract new customers, PR and marketing folks started offering free advice.
I think it's a terrible idea.
First of all, entrepreneurs don't expect free consultation to be any good. It's not always true, but it's hard to fight the perception.
Secondly, if you didn't have many clients, you wouldn't improve your numbers by offering free services. Once the offer ends, the wave of new clients will wash off.
Offering your service for free often devalues it in the eyes of the client.
When people pay for things, they tend to value them more because they invest in the choice they willingly make.
When something is free, it becomes expendable and too easy to discard.
Additionally, once people get used to receiving freebies, they won't be so keen on paying for your services again.
What are the alternatives?
So, does it mean that no one needs your help? Quite the contrary.
If you really want to help someone who suffered because of the quarantine or the economic downturn; or simply want to support small business, there are other ways.
Healthcare and charity organisations everywhere need your help, and they need it a lot more than another software developer or content platform.
Professionally, it's an outstanding challenge you can be proud of later.
Be generous. Instead of offering free services, you can give spare cash to those who need it the most, like local food banks and disaster relief funds.
Look out for your local crowdfunding campaigns to support the medical professionals and purchase protective equipment for them.
If you are willing to help colleagues, hire a freelancer.
An excellent place to start would be one of the many freelance exchange sites like The-Dots, a treasure trove of genuinely great professionals from the UK who will be very glad to get a side-project now.
Or if you have an expertise required, you can share it and teach those who absolutely need it about how to switch from offline to online.
Everyone's moving their business online, and such skills are very much in demand now.
And for crying out loud, make sure you tip well when taking online deliveries or hailing a ride – after all, being a courier and driver has become a life-threatening proposition these days, and supplementing their still minuscule wages is a small thing we can do.
Mary Glazkova is vice president of PR and communications at Wheely