I am 31 years old and honored to be the youngest partner ever at my law firm. I started practicing at the age of 23. I have been practicing for more than 2,500 days and for the last 60,000 hours of my life there has not been an hour that has gone by that I have not thought about marketing. Marketing success is not determined by cramming for an exam, or a single book that can be read; marketing is a full-time job.
Here are 10 tips I have learned along the way. Use this to build your road map and stick to it.
1. Do you. Don’t try to emulate someone else’s marketing success. Recognize their path, heed their advice and incorporate what works naturally for you.
2. Be natural. If you don’t like giving speeches, then write articles. Start off with what comes natural, but don’t be afraid to push yourself outside of the norm. When it feels natural you will enjoy it more and subconsciously do it more often.
3. Professional media not social media. Obtaining a client or referral source in the business realm requires others to trust you — a tweet or poke will not build that. Make sure you are on LinkedIn — a must. Clients look at LinkedIn to review your credentials. Also, don’t forget the power of direct emails and text messages. Saying happy birthday or congrats on a win can go a long way and keep you relevant in the mind of the receiver. If you are inclined to utilize other social media use it sparingly.
4. Find a place where your story will be well-received. Figure out what story you are going to tell. I do almost all of my marketing in Miami Beach. I joined the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce early in my career and quite frankly did not really know how to “work the room.” My grandparents moved to Miami Beach in 1948, my father was born in Miami Beach, I was born at Mount Sinai and my newborn son was just born at Mount Sinai. Starting to see my story? While I didn’t know at first how to work the room, if I could do nothing more than just tell people about my roots in Miami Beach, I was connecting. Your story is what will bring you to success.
5. Trial and error. Spend your marketing dollars wisely. Join many different groups and take many people out to business lunches. Then, find the place where your story is being received well. Take your internal temperature after each event. If you walk away in a pleasant mood it is more likely that when you were networking you were engaging and likable. People do business with people they find enjoyable.
6. Light up the room. This is easier said than done, but the quicker you can make it natural, the quicker you will be climbing the marketing ranks. Walk into the room and be bold (not bombastic). Light the room up, don’t just be one light among many in the room. It is your time to shine.
7. Catch, don’t pitch. It is important to shine but not sell. Ask insightful guiding questions and always listen. Garner as much knowledge about the person in front of you as you can — catch. Then, once you have recognized a common ground or a need that you can assist with, explain how you could help — disguised pitch.
8. Always praise others, and let others speak your praise. When you are in a networking situation where you know other colleagues in the room, always speak highly and praise their accomplishments. It is an endearing quality, and immediately makes the person you are speaking to not see you as the pitcher. Remember if you praise others they will find out and likely praise you in return.
9. Give, don’t seek. When you join an organization, lend your time and eventually obtain a leadership position. Those around you will be impressed that you devote your time for the benefit of an organization and will see you in a professional role. Every fruitful marketing relationship starts off by giving. The return will inevitably come.
10. Master your skill set. Remember marketing is your second job. If you do not master your first job then you have no skills to market. Obtaining successful outcomes for clients will prove to be a great source of recurring business.
“Spreading the Word” features marketing and communications professionals sharing thoughts and advice on branding and social media. To be considered, submit topics to rclarke@MiamiHerald.com.