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Perspective to End 2012 and Begin 2013
After the horrific event in Newtown, Connecticut this past Friday, writing about marketing and business development for this issue of the newsletter was difficult. In fact, for most of the day Friday, I, like many others, was unable to focus on the work at hand. I was too overcome with both grief and disbelief.
So this weekend I pulled out and edited something I wrote in January of this year on my marketing blog when I was feeling overwhelmed with life and unnerved by the randomness of tragedy. I was overwhelmed and unnerved because three friends were battling life-threatening diseases and it wasn’t looking good for any of the three. While rereading it in light of recent events, the words still speak to me. I hope you find the content useful.
I have a friend with metastatic breast cancer and they just found a recurrence. I have another friend who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor right before Christmas. And I am following the cancer journey of a 5 year old little girl who has captured my heart. She is having a rough time.
Don't "the studies" say that by the middle of January, or at least by the end, that most of us will have abandoned our new year’s resolutions? Big deal.
This post is not designed to help you keep those resolutions, nor is it meant to depress you (although I'm feeling a bit weighed down at the moment). In the three situations mentioned, resolutions likely involve staying alive. That makes many of our resolutions seem unimportant – certainly not worth all the time and energy spent talking or writing about them.
I write this post to bring some perspective to the new year – for you and, I guess, really for me.
Since this is a marketing blog focused on professional service firms, let me share with you a secret that is not really that secret – marketing is not that difficult. There are countless marketing blogs dispensing "wisdom" which often makes the reader feel woefully inadequate or, at the very least, behind the curve. Let me assure you that you're fine and that you don't have to worry with much of what is written. Just remember these things:
- Invest what you have to invest (both in time and money) to get good at what you do. This is the most important item on the list. The quality of your work is your greatest marketing edge.
- Pay attention to your clients. While not every client is created equal, the level of service you provide to your clients is your second most important marketing edge.
- Make sure you have a website with helpful content (besides your phone number and email address). Your website is your calling card and it's the first place prospects go to know more about you. Your website can be a source of business if it contains helpful content for people in your target markets.
- Network with your peers. Get to know others in your profession. Learn from them. In turn, educate them. Going it alone makes the journey exponentially harder.
- Figure out what development techniques you are good at and do those. There is no "one size fits all" for business development. Some people are networkers. Some are content developers. Some are speakers. Some are master technicians. Most are a combination of different things. Determine what you're good at and then get better. Don't try to be something you're not. Then, do what you're good at - again and again and again.
- Focus on what's important. Now, to put the five above in proper perspective. Our careers can give us great enjoyment and a sense of purpose – or they can be a weight around our neck (if yours is the latter, get a new career). Give back. Slow down. Deepen relationships with those in your life that value you and nurture you. Move on from those that always take and never give. In the process, take a hard look at yourself to determine if you're a giver or a taker. Be the former.
- Have faith in something besides yourself. Whether or not you believe in a higher power, we all come to the end of ourselves sooner or later. When you find yourself there, on what do you rely?
- Keep it all in perspective. You are not your career, or the clothes you wear, or the car you drive. You are not defined by your family or lack thereof. Your LinkedIn profile is not the sum of who you are. The length of time we're on earth is but a breath. What will your legacy be? Spend more time thinking about this question and then doing something about it. Don't worry about that which, in the end, doesn't matter.
You may think the final three points don't have anything to do with marketing. You're wrong. In a professional services firm, people do business with people – not brands. Brands may get them in the door but it's the personal connection between service provider and client that is important. Basically, being a jerk is never a good business development strategy, nor a life strategy.
So, see, it's not that difficult – in theory. In practice it can be damn hard.
To close the circle, my friend with the brain tumor died in August of this year. My friend with metastatic breast cancer fights on. The 5 year old little girl has turned 6 and now there is no trace of the cancer on her scans.
Life is seemingly random. I can’t make sense of it. It’s certainly above my pay grade. All I know is that people and relationships matter. Doing what’s right matters.
Barbara Walters Price is the senior vice president of marketing for Mercer Capital. Email her at email@example.com, follow her on Twitter at @BarbaraWPrice, or connect with her on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/barbarawaltersprice.