Barter? … Good Old Contra? … Or Professional Cooperation?

November 15, 2012

Yesterday, I wrote about value for value as a solution to a perplexing marketing problem. In case you missed it, the perplexing problem was needing help with marketing but unable to get the help because of  the temporary situation of cashlessness. If you read the post, you might have found yourself wondering what was behind it.

The previous day in response to LinkedIn message version of the same post, Denise Michaels, Author, ‘Testosterone-Free Marketing‘ replied with this message:

“Smart move. I’ve used bartering a great deal in the past for web design, graphic design and some social media work.”

Thanks Denise.

In response to my post Nova Oldfield asked:

“So are you advocating the good old contra? Or is it more about professional cooperation to leverage each other’s skills?”

Good questions Nola. The answers are yes and yes.

Barter is the exchange of goods or services rather than the use of money.

Contra is the long established business practice of two businesses exchanging goods or services of comparable value instead of paying each other with money. One of my favorite contra relationships was as a lawyer when I had a client who ran a fine restaurant. I ran a tab at the restaurant and offset it against the client’s fees for legal services. That arrangement worked well for each of us.

Strange as it may have seemed, yesterday’s post was not random act of weirdness. It was very purposeful.

First and foremost, it is part of a series of LinkIn messages and blog posts to test some professional service marketing strategies. So far, I’ve tested two strategies and have three more to test. Interesting results so far. I will write about results when I have finished the tests.

In my response to Nova, I explained:

Contra is a good way of helping others who who could do great things but are stuck and frustrated by cash flow situations.

Professional cooperation usually generates some amazing synergy that helps both parties.

And to be honest, part of my rationale is to invite people to think beyond the model as money being the only value that can be exchanged for services.

In my mind, each of these factors is a sound and valid reason for barter-type arrangements.

I also believe that the timing is right to consider alternatives to exchanging money for services.

The more we focus on financial issues, the bigger the role we assign to complex issues like the financial cliff, factors over which we have no control.

On the other hand, the more we focus on doing whatever we can to help our clients, including accepting alternate forms of payment, the more purposeful and satisfied we and our clients will feel.

Personally, I would rather enjoy the synergy of working with like-minded clients than waste time and energy worrying about things I can’t control.


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