My wife has been in the environmental consulting business for her whole career. There’s been a repeating pattern I watched her go through while working for other people. They take scientists and rightfully give them all the scientific work they can do. All the while, they do absolutely no marketing. Then, for whatever reason, their pipeline of work dries up. Inevitably they would turn to her and say, “YOU GOTTA GET OUT THERE AND SELL SOMETHING!!1!”
Let’s be clear before we get deep into this.
Use the right people.
People are like radio stations. You tune into a radio station because you want to hear the music the radio station is playing. Country music fan? Tune into a country station. Jazz fan? Jazz station. What you don’t do is decide one day that country music isn’t working for you and call the station manager to scream at her about how they need to play Jazz now. You need to market with marketing people because just like radio stations, marketing people play marketing music and science people play science music and neither one does the other very well.
Market all the time.
No farmer has ever said, “When I get hungry, I’ll plant crops in my field” If your pipeline runs dry it’s because you didn’t have a measured, sustained effort at marketing. Don’t blame it on the economy. Even the bible has marketing advice; you cannot reap what has not been sown. Marketing, like farming, is about planting seeds and tending crops for long periods of time until one day in the fall the plants make the food that will last you through the winter, spring and summer.
Don’t be lame.
You should have a complete set of preconceived notions of what your clients expect to see when it comes to your marketing materials. You should strive to violate every one of their preconceived notions.
Violate. Wreck. Blow up. Destroy. Kill. Murder.
If your marketing makes you completely comfortable you’re doing it wrong. Your job is to be remembered. Why is almost irrelevant so long as you’re remembered.
Think about this. You want to land a big account, you know they currently have a provider that is adequately serving their needs. Not great, just adequate. But change is painful and sticking with an adequate provider is less painful than rolling the dice on a new provider which may be better, but may be worse. You want to be stuck in their minds, not just today on the day of the presentation, you want to be stuck in their minds forever. You want them to remember you 9 months from now when they need to make a dentist appointment because they chipped a tooth and their daughter needs a lift home from band practice at 7:00 but son can’t do it because he’ll have the car at his soccer game while his client calls him and tells him he needs a crew onsite tomorrow morning but the subcontractor has other projects scheduled and he’s going to be on the phone for 2 hours starting at 6:00AM to sort this out when his tee time was supposed to be 7:15 and this is the only time he was going to get to play golf with his college friends all summer.
At that moment, you need to be top-of-freaking-mind. That can’t be done if you’re lame.
So figure out what people expect from your marketing and break all the rules.
BP Amoco Presentation
We were invited to present to BP Amoco to be a regional provider of environmental consulting services for their retail operations. The request came by email and was short and to the point. You have 2 weeks to prepare a 15 minute powerpoint presentation. Be ready for 30 minutes of questions after the presentation.
I thought, Powerpoint. No. Freaking. Way.
I’m not sure I could stay awake for a 15 minute powerpoint and I also don’t believe we could out-shine our competition. So we ignored the directive and created a 13 minute video that said with pictures, video and music what A3 Environmental Consultants is all about. I sent a return email asking for clarification as to what points they were most interested in (safety, technical ability, experience) and I hit those points hard in the video.
It was a gamble and while I’d like to tell you it worked and we landed BP we still don’t know.
I’d say we were definitely memorable. What’s more, we posted the video on social media and pushed it out to all our contacts. We watched the youtube analytics and it did really well. We had dozens of emails from potential clients and partners with kind words. For a 13 minute video, I was shocked to see that the majority of the people watching it, watched the whole thing. The bottom line is, regardless of if we land the BP account we are stuck in hundreds of minds for having amazing marketing. I hope you agree. The video took 50 hours. The staff had a great time putting it together. The pieces of the video are all in one location so they can be disassembled and reconstituted for future marketing projects. Our staff liked it so much they direct emailed the link to friends and family to show them what we do for a living (which is always hard to explain). It was like sewing seeds in the wind, to be harvested months from now for whichever seed lands in fertile soil.