Wednesday, May 11, 2005

You Still Need The Personal Touch in a High Tech World

Most great business leads still come from word-of-mouth referrals. No matter how slick your marketing materials, regardless of your high-tech website, and in spite of your firm’s new logo, you still need to create a personal and professional brand in the business community. It is important that others know who you are, and that they are talking about your product or service. I recently heard that a Fortune 500 company has hired a highly paid professional marketing executive whose entire focus is building “word of mouth buzz” about the company’s products. Her focus will be blogs, user groups, focus committees and other forms of viral marketing. Since your firm will not likely employ someone to get your clients and prospects talking about you, that responsibility rests with you.

In this age of email newsletters, on-line RFP’s, flash websites and v-cards, there is still no replacement for a personal relationship. While many professionals hate to take the time to attend networking events, this is still the most important first step in establishing yourself as a rainmaker. You can make excuses all day long, but until you get off your rear-end and go meet people, you will remain unknown in your industry.

Why can’t the marketing department do their job?

I once worked with a lawyer who told me she was tired of having to write articles, network, and go have lunches with prospects. She wanted the marketing department to “do their job” and make her phone ring with potential business. She continued to add that her job was to practice law, not bring in new business. It is not surprising that her reputation in the firm is one of a decent lawyer who had a mediocre practice. Her fellow partners laughed about her demanding personality and her ability to always blame others for her own short comings. What she really needed to do in order to attract more business was to embrace her own firm’s business development efforts. Instead, she looked at her own co-workers as the competition. Does this sound familiar? Does it sound like how you manage your own biz dev efforts?

The Newsletter Does Not Generate Business

Many firms spend countless hours on their newsletters. With the advances in technology, many have found ways to create fabulous publications that are distributed by mail or electronically. They are so proud of the piece that they are sure it is read by everyone in town. But nowadays high quality newsletters and other marketing materials are produced by almost all firms. Additionally, busy professionals receive so much information that few people actually have the time to read anything. Having a “batch and blast” approach to sending newsletters and other firm information no longer has much impact with the your clients and prospects. Think about your “in-box”. How much information are your receiving daily? Do you have the time to read it all? Neither do those who you send information.

New Technology Will Not Sell For You.

When I was a child it was rumored that technology was going to render our lives less complicated and we would have endless hours of free time. I don’t know about you but I am still waiting for that four day work-week. The reality is that new technologies have made it easier for us, and our competitors, to reach out to clients and prospects. But all this technology in today’s fast paced world is making it harder to keep up. There is no longer any excuse for slow response times. Everyone expects to reach us immediately via cell phone, email, blackberry or one of countless other devices that are now mandatory in the business world. And while this technology is pushing us toward excellence, it is also forcing us to work more hours to achieve the same results. Tom Peters famous line “Be Distinct or Be Extinct” has never been more true. To be average is the fastest way to lose business.

Back to Basics

So this is where the personal touch comes back into the equation. It is easy to fire a vendor, it is much more difficult to fire your friend. Having a personal relationship with the people whom you do business will allow you to keep and grow your business. Meanwhile keeping your competitor with the latest technology at bay…at least temporarily. If you have not invested the time to really get to know your clients and prospects, then you are doomed to be another failure in today’s faceless world of business.

Now for your homework: Put down this article, and call someone in your business network and schedule a lunch meeting. Also, my new book: "Some Assembly Required: How to Make, Grow and Keep Your Business Relationships" is almost complete. You can purchase an advance signed copy at

Here is an article I wrote many years ago, but it is still relevant today:

Thom Singer

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