Marketing 101 reminders

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Published on 10/12/09

While speaking at a recent conference, I was reminded about some marketing basics.

The first reminder came when someone spoke to me after my presentation. "I need everything that you talked about," he said, "and once I get back to my office I'm going to be sure to call you."

My response was immediate. First of all, I handed him my business card (it always amazes me how many professionals don't carry one with them) and urged him to call me on the specific day I indicated. Then came my follow-up: I asked for his business card and said, "If you're unable to call me that day, I'll be sure to call you the next day."

He was more than receptive to that and appreciated that my reaching out to him showed my interest in establishing a business relationship.

In lesson No. 2, a second person, whom I did not know, introduced himself and addressed me by name. I asked how he knew who I was, and he replied: "I get your weekly electronic newsletter, and the e-mail has your picture at the top — and it actually looks just like you!"

What a blinding glimpse of the obvious. Nothing makes a more immediate impression than a personal photo on a web page or a blog post, and that impression can cut both ways. If the photo is engaging and current, it can create a strong connection with the viewer; conversely, a photo depicting a smug or hostile expression that is woefully out of date can do more harm than good.

One sees this latter phenomenon on law firm websites regularly. Male and female lawyers alike believe that a decades' old photo conveys a young impression when it merely shows the lawyer as out of date and potentially out of touch.

These are reminders that all of us sell all the time. Marketing/selling is both conscious and unconscious. When we make it conscious as a means of creating an unconscious connection with potential clients we have yet to meet, we have a better chance of succeeding.

That's a powerful message in today's economy, when so many lawyers seem to wait, and even to long, for "things to come back." Such lawyers are likely to find themselves quite hungry for some time.

There's no question that the economy will improve; it may already be improving. But the world of passively waiting for business to come to us will never return.

Consider one major West Coast firm that is now requiring its lawyers to have profiles on the social networking site LinkedIn. Unorthodox? Yes, but it means going where the prospects are.

What kind of marketing 101 are you doing? Do you read your clients' key industry publications and websites to know what concerns them? If your clients or referral sources are having a tough time business-wise, are you proactively calling them to say what you can do to help? If not, there's no time like the present to begin. You need to be, and stay, top-of-mind with your clients, your contacts, your prospects. Wait, and it may be too late.

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