Continuing from my previous article, here are some more things that are almost certainly a waste of time in terms of business development (or, at the very least, not the best use of your time).
- Spending a ton of time writing a great article for publication.
There are two things that will likely happen here:
First, you will be giving away your expertise and industry knowledge for free to your competition
Second, you will spend a great deal of your most precious resource – your time – for a very uncertain payoff.
Doing things like this make you “feel” like you are doing something useful, but sorry, you likely aren’t doing anything that will really help you.
Having said that, sometimes articles can be useful to establish your reputation and bona fides; however, overall it is not the most effective use of your time.
I will give you, in a later column, a more useful way to write articles for publication.
Of course advertising can potentially be a powerful technique for a major company that is trying to build its market share (e.g. “Things Go Better With Coca Cola”); however, for law firms (other than global law firms and regional powerhouses that are already a dominant player trying to extend that dominance), I think the dollars are better spent elsewhere.
- Brochures, Videos, Website, Your Bio, etc.
I am overall torn on brochures (get it?). There is a perfectly good argument that no one ever reads them so they are a complete waste of time. Yet, on the other hand, if they are well prepared they can put forth your message – maybe in just a few key words – on the cover, and in the call-out boxes (which people sometimes do look at), and they provide a modicum of seriousness and class to your enterprise. Although I am being a little wishy-washy here, I will say that ideally you will have a really nice-looking brochure that is very professionally prepared; however, I urge you to pull this off in a way that doesn’t take much of your precious asset of time.
Videos can be cool, and if they are unique, a bit crazy, and along the lines of a Purple Cow, and let you “put on a show” (which I will talk about in a later column), then I would say go for it. However, I would do everything I could to not spend that much time or money on it.
Of all these written materials, there is no question that the website is by far the most important thing you will write and where you should devote the most time. Third parties “always” go there to “check you out.” In this regard I advocate that it is key to have your website e interesting and not look like all the others. You want to stand out and make clear how different and unique you are — i.e., the heart of your message is you are a power player in your Power Niche.
It is the same with your online bio. Try to stand out and be different and make the same point about your power in your Power Niche. And don’t worry too much about mentioning every single thing you ever did in your career for fear that by omission you will lose out on customers and clients. It doesn’t work that way. Worry more about what you are saying than what you are not saying.
For all of these mediums, I advocate that you figure out your “message” before you write them up. It should be the same message in all of them. The message should be a short one. And the message should be about your power in your Power Niche.
- Direct Mail.
Today this is mostly by internet and is loosely called spam, and “spam” is hardly a compliment. Indeed, other than Monty Python’s famous Spam skit, I haven’t ever heard anything positive about it.
I think spamming people is overall a terrible idea because it is such a turn-off and convinces people to ignore and avoid you as much as possible.
However, there is a way to cold call someone over the internet that can be done in a very classy manner, which I have used many times before, and which I will explain in a later column.
- Sponsorship of Cultural or Sporting Events.
Except for major law firms that find plain old advertising worthwhile, as I noted above, I don’t think this is worth it either. It is every expensive, plus time-consuming, and I don’t see what you get for it. Yes, your clients have a nice time, but I think if you took the time and the money and spent it as I otherwise advocate above, you will have a much more positive outcome.
By the way, this is very different from a one-on-one situation when you take a client out to a sporting event. That can be superb bonding time and very useful to building a relationship.
- Anything else that takes a ton of your time for an uncertain payoff is “probably” not worth it – unless the payoff is potentially enormous.
. . . .
If you have been doing any or all of the foregoing things, don’t bum out too much. I think I did every one of them, other than the social media stuff. The past is irrelevant – all that matters is what will happen going forward.
By the way, if you have done some of the foregoing and it has actually worked for you, consider why that is the case. Is it pure luck, in which event it is great that you were lucky but you still shouldn’t waste more time on it? Or, do you maybe have a special angle on the foregoing that I personally haven’t seen but is nonetheless successful that could be exploited? I don’t like to admit it – but I don’t (yet) know everything….