Sunday, April 19, 2009

Marketing from the Trenches #8 - Internet or You Will Never Net (Profit)

If you expect to have a great practice and make a sustainable profit you'd better have a firm grasp of how you appear on the Internet -- and that is not accomplished by just having a firm website. You have to OWN your presence in ALL of the forms it takes wherever your name appears.

When I started as a Marketer too many years ago the Internet was a fringe activity used by academia and ten or twelve other people with a computer and an account on Compuserve. In those days printed collateral material was King. It was unimaginable to go to market without slick folders and over-produced printed pieces. The only thing a potential client could know about us was what we handed to them.

Today is quite different, and maybe you might not grasp how different it is.

First, before you walk through any door you have already been searched, read and opinions have been made. Decision-makers don't wait to meet you -- they just reach for their keyboard and start searching.

Second, most people do not know your website URL off the top of their head or how to find you directly, so they type your name or firm name into the search box at their search engine of choice and poke around on whatever appears.

Hopefully they are directed to your firm site or your official bio, but other search results will appear including everything good or bad hosted wherever it may be. There may be links to people on LinkedIn, or personal pages on FaceBook or MySpace, or links to membership lists for community group participation, or comments on a DIGG feature or pictures hosted on Flickr for a Las Vegas party.

The point here is that anyone in your firm or claiming an association may appear in the search engine scroll of results.

My adamant advise is to do whatever you can to make the Internet your highest marketing priority! Find the stuff you like about yourself and work to bring it higher in search results and work towards pushing irrelevant or bad stuff deeper. The Internet is THE front-line in your marketing combat zone -- respect it and your opportunity for net profit will grow.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Marketing from the Trenches #7 - Stop Talking About What You Do

When you meet with potential clients try and have an open, fun conversation.

Think back to when you where dating (or maybe you are now). On a first date did/do you talk about how well you date, your qualifications to be a great date, past dating successes or even offer references to prior dating accomplishments? I don't THINK so! Instead you talked and listened, exchanged ideas, dreams, hopes, experiences and got a feel for each other and looked for chemistry and connection.

When meeting with a potential client for the first time I can almost guarantee that person did their homework... has already read your bio on the internet and has an impression about you and your firm. Now, face-to-face, they want to get to know YOU.

So don't be a dork and hide behind prefabricated marketing pitches. If you want a second date go have a fun conversation. Ask about whom they are, talk about interests, family, work, goals, etc. Treat it like a date.

Finally, let your date (future client) decide what they need to know about you or your firm. Ask them, "What can I tell you about me?" Remember that how they arrive at trusting you is totally in their court, so give them the space to ask for what they need.

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Marketing from the Trenches #6 - Monetize Your Non-Billable Time

This one is simple to understand, measure and change.

If you have the courage, keep track of any non-billable activity you do while you're at work. Then, at the end of a day look at your list and put a "$" sign next to any activity that can result in new work. Your list will demonstrate one of three things:
  1. If you have no $'s you either don't make time for your future at all or you are a complete slacker. Not every day can be a banner day in marketing your future but any extreme points at real dysfunction. Seek help immediately!!
  2. If every non-billable activity has a $ next to it you either need to get a life or you're lying to yourself about the value of what you're doing. I have known professionals who make EVERY minute count and they are usually struggling at work and at home, and are not very popular. Then of course there are those professionals that will claim on a stack of Bibles that everything they do has purpose while not really doing anything at all. Again, if you are at an extreme; seek help immediately!!
  3. If your list has a fairly even balance of $'s and non-$'s you are doing O.K. You could tweak it I'm sure but a good professional life includes being balanced about what we pursue. Ten minutes doing the water-cooler thing is great if you balance it with a phone call to set up a lunch with a referral resource.
In regard to seeking professional help -- if your firm has a marketing department or business development professionals, call them! You could also invest in a professional coach, or seek out a mentor to guide you. There is something completely right about asking for help. In fact just about any hyper-successful person I have ever known had a guide to lead them and where never afraid to ask for help.

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Thursday, April 02, 2009

Marketing from the Trenches #5 - Stop Saying "Yes" to No-Money Activities

Have you ever bent to a request that started with, "Hey, I really need you to do this favor." Or, how much of your time is committed to no-money, community or professional activities you keep alive out of principle or guilt?

If you are going to be successful in building your own practice you have to make hard choices and shed activities that do not produce new opportunities. Period.

You have to honor yourself and say "No" if there is nothing in an activity that supports your practice development goals. The time for humbly offered pro-bono and giving for no reason at all comes later -- after your practice is mature and your future is secure.

Remember, you can do wonderful things, help a lot of people and be a hero even while you are looking after your own goals. Marketing your practice depends on your ability to focus any non-billable work time on activities and relationships that will further your professional objectives. Do this:
  • Take a hard look at your calendar and decline any activities that do not represent a step forward for your practice (or family).
  • Turn down any "favor" requests from your peers or superiors that do not add to your practice. Respect is hard to earn -- and is never earned unless you stand firm on your own standards.
  • Get involved with organizations and initiatives filled with people and relationships that might help your marketing effort.
  • Stop talking with "time-wasters" and build relationships with people that can move your practice forward. This is probably the toughest step to take and the most necessary.
Be strong and you can do this. Be focused and you will arrive in a wonderful place where friendship and self-promotion find a rewarding balance.

There is nothing wrong or shameful about wanting to be successful and working to make that happen. Your future is in your hands alone. Be wonderful, be a hero and take care of your future.

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Graphic Artists are Crazy

I might know. I am one. But, not like, "Wooo Hooooo, la la la la la, put me in a rubber room!!" Go online and look at any portfo...