I like music. I like the kind of music that features guitars. I like it very, very much. It's the kind of music that makes teenagers cover their ears in horror, because it should, ideally, have, oh, ten-minute guitar solos. Really, really long, intricate guitar solos are right up my street.
The problem is that there really aren't a lot of these songs. Eighteen-minute songs with endless guitar solos aren't exactly marketing magic, so with a few exceptions, they're hard to find. The most amazing exception, by the way, is a live Derek and The Dominoes album from 1973, featuring Clapton playing an extremely long version of "Why Does Love got to Be So Sad?"
The hardest part in advertising is coming up with the tagline, I think. Apropos of nothing, I heard two great ones this week. The first is from Cindy Lee, who's a business development consultant, an insane genius, and a quirky ball of fire. She's also very petite, and her line is "The Perfect Woman ... In Miniature." I love that.
The second one I heard in the car today, as a sponsor for NPR. The company is Endless Pools, and they make small swimming pools that have a built-in current. You swim against the current, going nowhere, and can do this in an 8' x 15' space.
One of the hardest parts about the already hard work of writing taglines is making sure that they tell people what the company or produce already does. Endless Pools did it beautifully, simply, elegantly ... "Endless Pools: Treadmills for Swimmers". Outstanding.
One of the challenges a lot of professional services firms face is that what they're selling is frequently very complex and expensive. This means it can take quite a while to explain to a prospect what you want, and how it will help them, and a working relationship can mean a big, messy commitment, which prolongs the sales cycle, involves more layers of management, and just complicates everything.
One good solution to this is to come up with sort of a stripped-down version of your offering. Make it lighter, faster, easier and less of a deal. This allows you to make the commitment the sale requires smaller, and allow the client to risk less when working with you. Kind of a low-cost "rent to own" option.
My sister, when she was a consultant doing process reengineering, did something like this all the time. They called it a "fly by" and it meant a one-day in-and-out consulting blitz, at a huge discount. The promise was that by the end of the day, they would come up with something that would save the client a lot of money. Because the commitment was minor, it worked well, and created a lot of customers who otherwise would have been intimidated out of doing business with them.
There's a nice piece on this subject in Jim Logan's blog today -- he calls it "downselling" and it's a great idea. It's here:
It's always fascinating to see what pushes someone's button. You never know until it's too late, but you can be in the middle of a perfectly civilized conversation, casually mention some subject, and before you know it, pow, a rant has begun. I just got off the phone with a friend of mine, and the conversation touched on the topic of the need for credentials in professional organizations, and he was off. He was off on a bat about how credentials are ridiculous, they're an extortion scheme, he's never been asked once about his, and so on.
If you want to see me rant, and who wouldn't, suggest that PowerPoint is a good thing for business development presentations.
I got this email today from a principal at a small consulting firm that I met with, but ultimately did not do any business with:
I am really surprised and disappointed that you would contact us to get our resource information to pass on to a competitor. I do not think this a good practice of building and nurturing relationships in industry.
I spent the day (or at least part of it) helping a client put together a referral fee program, so I'm thinking about references today. As anyone who's ever done it knows, it's brutally difficult to bring in a totally new client. Any kind of a reference makes the process far easier, but most people don't leverage this as much as they could because they aren't specific and aggressive enough in asking for a referral. Here's a nice little piece that provides some very valuable, and very specific, ways to handle this issue:
After two or three years, I finally bit the bullet and got a new cellphone. My old one suddenly stopped ringing, which was a major drawback, to say the least, so I spent a week doing research, and hooked myself up with a Motorola MPx220. It wasn't cheap. http://www.phonescoop.com/phones/phone.php?p=478 However, it has changed almost everything about my day-to-day work, and it got me thinking about tools, which is the basis of this post. We probably don't spend enough time, money or thought to the tools we use every day in our work. This is particularly true in business development, which involves a lot of moving around, keeping track of hundreds of contacts, and keeping dozens of plates spinning without breaking.
The very first step in any kind of business development is coming up with a lead. Particularly to my constituency, professionals who sell (as opposed to selling professionals) this can be pretty daunting. There seem like infinite ways to create leads, and they all seem equally valid. Sponsor a seminar? Cold call? Work your network? Publish a newsletter? Blog? Which works, and which doesn't, and more to the point, what are the different lead generation sources? What are the options?
In his blog, Brian Carrol lays them all out of us. It's a nice piece of work, and a very handy starting point for organizing your thinking about business development. You can find it here:
In any kind of marketing, and business development, everyone is always on the alert for The Next Really Big Thing. The upheaval caused by the Internet scared the daylights out of a lot of people, and the last thing any business developer wants to be doing is standing in front of his/her boss explaining why the boat was missed. Of course, it may be a dinghy or it may be a supertanker. The trick is discerning which. Here's a draft first chapter from a really well-known expert making the case that blogs (like this one) are the next supertanker. A little on the heavy-breathing side, and a little scary to those of us who remember the implosion of the Internet bubble, but persuasive anyway, especially if you're trying to persuade a reluctant partner or principal that, yes, a blog is worth some resources: