The first involved one of the email vendors I use: a 30-minute wait to speak to a human.
The second involved my credit card company: don’t get me started.
The thing is, these types of interactions are not the exception – we are all forced to deal with big company bureaucracy every day.
Which is why your competitive advantage as a tiny professional service firm is to provide prodigious (SAT word!) levels of transparency and availability:
Respond to emails; return phone calls; provide complete contact information on your web site (not just a form); don’t require every interaction with you to go through your virtual assistant; and maybe stop using “we” on your web site when we all know it’s really just you back there.
Big companies can’t get out of their own way. That’s not a feature; it’s a weakness.
In a world where we are all tired of empty promises of the your-call-is-important-to-us variety, your unassailable advantage is YOU.
I commented on someone’s LinkedIn post.
I responded to a newsletter that came to my inbox.
I replied to someone who commented on my newsletter.
None of these things are going to bring me clients today.
And yet, when you do these little things, all day long and every day, there is no more effective way to grow your professional service business.
“Marketing” isn’t a thing you do once a week on Tuesday afternoons. It’s every outbound connection, every day.
Try and do more of these.
I was on a small group networking call and I asked someone, “What kind of work do you do?”
The five-minute-long answer, which I believe had something to do with real estate law, included several detailed descriptions of changing regulations and their implications.
Here’s the thing: The point of telling people what you do is not to impress them.
It’s not even about getting them to hire you; the chances of them needing you, right now, are exceedingly low.
It’s simply this: To get them to understand and remember what you do.
This way, in a week, or a month, or a year, when someone they know mentions a problem, your name pops up as someone who can solve it.
If your description of the work you do doesn’t feel to you like a painful oversimplification, you’re not doing it right.
He was writing to make fun of the fact that the subject line of my “Today I” from earlier in the week was: “Today I … resent my newsletter.”
He wanted to know why I hate my newsletter (resent).
Of course, I meant “re-sent,” a frequently used word by those of us who live newsletter-centric lives.
But it was a good reminder that our world view is not necessarily shared by our clients, prospects, readers, or older brothers.
Are you marketing to yourself, or to the people you are trying to influence?
I sent it to those who didn’t open it the first time I published, last Friday.
I do this for nearly all my clients’ newsletters too.
Typically, we see a 50% increase in opens (e.g., a newsletter with a 20% open rate adds another 10% on the second send).
Does it annoy some people? Maybe.
But many people appreciate the reminder. Which group do you care about more?