Common marketing missteps waste time and money. These 5 fixes are GAME CHANGERS.

This Is What Overreaching Looks Like

what overreaching looks like - Carolyn Daughters

A former client accused me of overreaching and flagged my Facebook account (“pretending to be something”). This is a story about what overreaching looks like.

Wondering what overreaching looks like? Let’s start at the beginning.

In 2020, I provided ghostwriting services for three clients, one who wanted a book on HR support for small businesses and two who each wanted to put a marketing book into print. Two of the projects went smoothly. The third project went well until it collapsed into a fiery heap.

Here’s the scoop about project #3. In December 2020, a former colleague hired me to ghostwrite his business book. The topic: the keys to marketing success. During the six months we worked together, I wrote chapter after chapter with little input from him. He gave me a roughly sketched table of contents, and I just wrote the thing. Any input I received was generic. Example: “Outbound marketing is important, but inbound marketing is more important.”

During the six months we worked together, he took every opportunity to school me on his education, entrepreneurial success, nonstop business growth, and outrageous profit margin. He suggested I watch his webinars and hours-long recorded client workshops to learn as much as possible from him — all off the clock. After listening to his bona fides each week, I went off and drafted that week’s chapter with little to no actual input from him.

Brass Tacks: Why Did I Work on This Book?

For one thing, 2020 was a rough pandemic year. Three of my clients went out of business. Seven of my clients still owe me substantial sums. All of my in-person U.S. Air Force and corporate persuasive writing classes were cancelled from March 2020 onward.

For another, the book was a joy to write. I knew my subject matter inside and out. And my client wanted the book to have a lighthearted, almost flip tone, and I was happy to comply. I got to tell fun stories and share valuable insights. It was a pretty easy gig, all things told. The book practically wrote itself.

My client loved everything I wrote and approved almost all of it with zero edits. However, every week he complained about my hourly rate and tried to negotiate the rate down substantially. “Did you know that many of your peers charge way less?” (Yep.) “Did you know I can get a ghostwriter for a fraction of what you charge?” (Sure do.) And so on. A couple months ago, he put me on pause and hired a $30/hour “expert” copywriter off Upwork to finish ghostwriting his book.

If this Upwork ghostwriter were working full time, she would earn $60K/year with no vacation or other benefits. To be clear, this is the expert ghostwriter my client chose to complete his book on marketing success.

A few weeks ago, my client reached out to ask me to review the new ghostwriter’s drafts. The problem: he was spending 10 or more hours a week combing through her content and trying to clean it up. She doesn’t really have much of a background in marketing, he told me. (Or grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, or style for that matter — that much was clear when he showed me some of the content she drafted.)

What would this review effort pay? Nothing. It would be an “opportunity” to “finish out” the project I supported for six months. I politely declined this time-consuming, unpaid opportunity.

My client said he was surprised since many people are wired to want to see a project through.

What Overreaching Looks Like

Still wondering what overreaching looks like? Right on. I’m about to tell you.

Two weeks later, he reported my Facebook page as “Pretending to be someone.” That same day, he wrote me to say I should replace my “Marketing” designation on my Facebook page with “Writer.”

“As a marketing expert,” he wrote, “I do not like when people pose as something they are not. Sorry to flag you, but it seems you’re overreaching.”

I’ve served as the chief marketing officer of 10 small businesses. I’ve led brand strategy workshops across the country for 60 companies. I offer dozens of free, tried and tested resources on my site to show businesses how to ditch random acts of marketing and pull the trigger on fast marketing wins.

One of us was definitely overreaching.

If his goal was to make me feel small, then he missed the bullseye, the board, and entire the wall upon which the board was hanging. If his goal was to fire me up, he hit the mark. And then some.

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My aim is to help small businesses and teams keep from making common (and costly) marketing mistakes and get out of their “random acts of marketing” rut. All fast wins and zero spam, smoke, mirrors, or fluff. Best of all: no marketing PhD required. (Heads up: This is an organic email list builder in action. 😉

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