Tell a friend

Occasionally, as I wrap up a date with a client, I say, “If you had a good time, please tell your friends about me.”

They always laugh. The notion strikes them as patently absurd. 

But why? 

Shame and stigma, that’s why.

When we find a great new hairdresser or auto body shop, we tell our friends.  Why is a companion different? Shame and stigma.

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While we’re chatting over the course of an appointment, my clients often tell me about their friends. The recently divorced dad. The guy who beat an illness and has a new lease on life. The guy who’s smart and funny and is having a tough time dating. Hello — these are qualified leads! Men I’d like to know. Or a plum referral to give to one of my colleagues, in case this friend loves tall women or Jewish women or women who play tennis. 

And yet — my clients have the time of their lives with me, and then clam up. It’s “discreet,” sure, but it also hinders my ability to continue in this business. It hinders my ability to help out my colleagues who are struggling, or new to this business, or want to expand their client base, or are simply a great fit for this friend. 

Plenty of companions quit (“retire,” in polite parlance), usually because they can’t sustain a flow of new and existing clients. They are beautiful and smart and motivated, but the inefficiencies of this business frustrate them until they quit, or they simply don’t get enough positive momentum.

It doesn’t have to be that way. But it will be that way, as long as shame and stigma persist.

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To be clear, I’m not asking anyone to spill intimate secrets of our time together. 

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Word-of-mouth and referrals are the way many small businesses break out in the first place, then sustain a flow of customers. And yet, that method is closed off to us. 

Stigma and shame hurt companions and clients alike. A friend often provides the nudge we need to start a new hobby, take a class, start something new. My friends often point out something I would enjoy or benefit from, before I’ve realized it myself. 

And many studies show that a recommendation from a friend or family member is much more effective and trusted than advertising. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. More satisfied clients, happier and more prosperous companions.

***

Shame and stigma keep us from helping ourselves and others. Shame and stigma keep us from loving ourselves and others. Shame and stigma keep us from acknowledging our true natures and desires. Shame and stigma silence us. Shame and stigma put a wedge between us and the people who can sustain us, lift us up, discover or rediscover life’s spark. 

Shame and stigma force companions to spend hundreds and thousands of dollars a month on advertising. We are forced to cast a wide net and pay for the lowest quality leads imaginable (every companion’s inbox is littered with “nice tits” type messages that come through even the most “upscale” ad sites). Every single new client who comes to us has to stumble upon us on his own through our ads or social media. And every single ad or social media post we publish is merely a shot in the dark — a nugget of potential energy that may, or may not, bring a suitable client to us. It’s the single most inefficient way for a small business to run. It keeps our operating costs high, admin time high, and frustration high. And it means there’s likely untapped demand out there. 

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Anyway, if you think I’m swell, you should tell a friend about me. 

Shae Ashbury