Above the street corner, the dull neon sign waits impatiently for midnight. I’m outside, pacing, a victim of my punctuality. Later, I’ll walk out with a knock-off new identity. I’ll do a job for you, you’ll do a job for me. That was the deal. Of course, for Reza’s premium services, I was going to have to hand over a little extra.
Inside the locked door, her assistant led me to a glossy room filled with German rap – and model-beautiful women. Enveloped in a suspiciously comfortable, scallop-shaped chair, I picked up the July issue of Vice, a moth to the cover stars’ tangerine-colored hair. ‘I’m really doing this,’ I thought as my mechanical eyes mock-read foreign words seemingly comprising every letter of the alphabet.
“So what can I do for you?,” beckoned another employee with a gentle air. “I want red,” I said. Sizing up what would end up a complex five-hour process, she knew I meant business. “But you must understand,” I smiled, “I’ve made a deal with your boss: a free cut and 25 percent off the color – nothing less.”
You’re damn right I traded copy for a makeover.
The business barter
Long, villainous-sounding story short, money is overrated. Not that I will ever take anything less for my work than what it’s worth, but if I want something, why drain my bank account when I can pay in skill instead?
The business barter is something I only recently cottoned onto. But just like trading a sheep for a goat, it’s a major win-win. In fact, if you’re savvy about it, you can save yourself a lot of money. Because services, or goods and services, are traded at retail value.
Say that the maker of Reza’s beautiful chairs offered them in exchange for a couple of salon visits. The retail price of the chairs is equal to the price of the hair cuts. However, the chairs only cost her 30 percent of the retail price to manufacture. As a result, the chair-maker has saved herself 70 percent on the hair cuts, and all without dropping a single cent in cash.
In my case, all I had to do for a hefty discount was spend a couple of hours revamping a cool website. The salon owner benefitted from a professional service she had never previously thought about.
Copywriting is a commodity
In our web-driven world, copywriting – especially English copywriting – is a commodity. Pretty much anyone who’s trying to market something – be it their business or themselves – could do with crisp and captivating copy. And since so many people need it, some without even knowing it, it’s the perfect currency.
But you needn’t stop at a hair cut. How about a holiday? Imagine there’s a gorgeous tropical hotel with an appallingly written website. Or a local car rental company that’s missing the mark with its advertising. The possibilities are literally endless. Want something? All you’ve gotta do is make a proposition. The bonus: you get to expand your client base while doing it.
You’ll find my work for Reza Hair Berlin here – as soon as she gets round to updating her website!