Experts agree that the COVID virus will be with us into the foreseeable future. With mask mandates lifted, people are cautiously stepping out to assess the damage wrought by the storm. While many professionals are eagerly moving back to business as usual, not all clients are throwing caution to the wind believing COVID has gone back into its deep, dark hole.
This dichotomy between the eternally cautious and the hopefully optimistic is finding its way into many professional’s efforts to engage with clients and friends and to get back to the days of big networking events, crowded bars, live presentations, and one-on-one relationship building.
Depending on where you fall on the spectrum of cautious and optimistic – and where your contacts fall – will determine how you get back to your new normal when marketing your practice or organization. Here are a few tips to help you on the journey.
The past two years of people working remotely has shocked employers who realize their investment in Class A office space, may not be as important in the continued delivery of high-value services to clients. Those who tend to be happy working remotely have a few things in common. They can be introverts who have been “training for this their whole life.” They are extremely self-motivated and don’t rely as much on the social side of working in an office. Several studies over the past few months show that on average, people who work remotely are 47% more productive (Forbes).
Love it or hate it, meeting on Zoom, Teams or Whereby has become part of the new business as normal. Speaking personally, I am SO much more productive meeting with my clients across the country via videoconference. I can easily schedule 7 or 8 meetings per day and produce much higher quality work by eliminating drive time and parking fees. Videoconferencing really humanizes the relationships we have. I’m always a little disappointed when clients use a custom background, and I can’t see their real surroundings. People are generally more casual and less stressed on video calls. My legal clients absolutely LOVE Zoom Court. Rather than spending hours driving, parking, and waiting for their case to be called, they wear shorts with a full suit on (waist up) and have their hearing in 15 minutes. I hope this trend is here to stay!
Writing Articles and Blogs
Thought leadership remains critical when establishing yourself as a subject matter expert. Find publications your clients read (trade, business or professional) and develop a pitch to provide an article on a timely, relevant topic. Also, remember to blog – at least once per month. Not only will regular blogging help build your personal reputation, but it will also benefit your website’s SEO. It’s amazing in our SEO reports how blogs can be among the most highly visited pages.
Share your Vaccine Status
I know – this is tricky. But if you feel comfortable sharing your vaccine status with a contact in preparation for an in-person meeting, you will likely set them at ease. You may fall on the side of “it’s none of their business,” but if it makes one of your contacts feel more comfortable meeting with you in-person, consider sharing.
Just as sharing your vaccine status may make one of your contacts feel more comfortable meeting you in person, it’s a good practice to take an at-home COVID test before that big lunch or dinner meeting.
Reach out to Contacts
Relationships don’t just matter; they are everything. Working remotely, you’ve had unfettered access to people’s homes and home offices. Many video meetings now begin with questions about “How are you?” and “How’s your family?” The trusted relationships you have built over the years are the most important to your continued success as a professional. People developed a strong sense of “we’re all in this together,” and that sense of a common foe has bonded people and helped transform good connections into great relationships.
Host a Webinar
Webinars provide a great platform to showcase your knowledge and expertise. We’re working on a webinar now with a client and one of their key referral sources. Webinars can be conducted “live” with an audience of attendees, or pre-recorded and offered as “on-demand” content. Either way, when you host a webinar and create valuable new content, the recorded webinar can be promoted on your website, on social media, and featured in an e- communication.
Focus on your Niche
Coming out of the pandemic it’s important to focus on what you’re known for – lead with your strengths. Put your marketing power behind promoting the one or two areas you have the highest name recognition in. Your niche can be service-oriented or could be your knowledge of a specific industry. When you focus on your niche, marketing truly becomes easier. Everything you do in marketing is designed to build your name recognition and reputation, which is especially strengthened when you hone in on a niche. Clients want to work with professionals who have specific knowledge of their unique situation or industry. When you build a niche, you can maximize your billing rate and achieve a focus your marketing efforts will support.
Client Service Reigns
Coming out of the pandemic, it’s critical to put client service at the top of your marketing priority list. You can control the experience your clients have with you by being a great listener, returning their calls and emails, being proactive on their case or matter, creating detailed billing summaries, introducing your clients to others (including your colleagues), and making your clients feel like they’re your only client.
Expand Your Digital Presence
There has been tremendous growth in digital marketing and social media over the past two years. Clients and contacts have had more time to explore topics online and we want them to find YOU. It’s clear that the cost/benefit of maintaining and growing your digital footprint will pay off. Make sure your biography is up to date, your LinkedIn profile shines, and that your blogs focus on topics of great interest to your clients. Engage on social media by posting to your profile, but also by going to your newsfeed to like, share, comment on, and follow the good work of your network.
Make it easy for clients to do business with you. During the pandemic PSM helped several law practices adopt a virtual service delivery model – the Virtual Law Office. We made it easy for clients to meet with us in video conference rooms, to execute documents using DocuSign, even conducting mediations using different rooms on Zoom and other platforms. Even though people are slowly returning to the office, you must continue to make it easy for your clients to do business with you. Embrace the myriad technology solutions that helped us through total lockdown.
Stand Up and Stand Out
Now is a great time to embrace your commitment to community involvement. Volunteering in your community is a great way to engage with your neighbors on activities and causes you believe in. Consider joining a non-profit board of a cause you care deeply about. You don’t want clients to think that all you do is work. When you give your time to do pro bono work, or as a community volunteer, your clients see you as a multi-dimensional person who values more than just billing time.
Getting back to pre-pandemic life will be an evolution. In-person events will only return when people trust that spaces are safe and free of viruses. Everyone lies somewhere on the spectrum between eternally cautious and hopefully optimistic. But you can control the experience your clients have with you by using a combination of virtual relationship building and – it’s finally spring – some outdoor lunches or dinners sprinkled in.