The Importance of Face-to-Face Marketing
For over a year now, we have altered our professional and personal lives to avoid unnecessary face-to-face meetings or gatherings. Fortunately, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel – and it isn’t a freight train barreling toward us. Restrictions and limitations are lifting. And while things are not yet back to normal or even a new normal, now is the perfect time to plan for when things will be.
If it wasn’t clear before, it should be now – there is nothing that can take the place of a face-to-face meeting. We’re human. We need to interact with other humans. We are made for face-to-face interactions and audio-visual substitutes simply aren’t the same. Sure, they are better than nothing but they simply aren’t a perfect substitute. They cannot provide the same bonding opportunity that sharing a meal or a cup of coffee can. They do not provide the same connection that a live conversation can. And they cannot provide the same marketing opportunity that an in-person exchange can.
Because we are inundated with marketing at every turn these days, some of the most successful do not appear to be. We are so accustomed to being “sold” something, that we have a natural inclination to raise barricades or obstacles when we sense a sales pitch. This is one of the reasons that advertisers have started wrapping their sales pitches in a warm emotional story. Advertising is much more subtle than it used to be.
A face-to-face meeting that has some other purpose is a great opportunity to disguise your marketing. After all, marketing is about more than advertising, it’s about establishing and maintaining a relationship with a client, a potential client, or a referral source.
As with all marketing, there must be a strategic plan with goals and specific tasks.
So, once you identify your niche and your target audience, you should make specific plans to include face-to-face meetings. Many of your clients and your work may come as referrals from other lawyers. Identify those who have sent you clients and work in the past. Put their names on your new list. Identify those who could send you clients and work but haven’t. Include their names. Now, make a plan. Who are you going to take to lunch? To coffee? When? Incorporate these actions in your to-do lists or on your schedule just as if it were other work. Follow up with them the day before your scheduled meeting to confirm.
When you meet with them, don’t launch into your sales pitch. Ask them questions about their work, their life, their interests, their hobbies, etc. You will find opportunities to make connections. Make them. But try to focus on them instead of yourself.
You will find opportunities to share information about your own work and the work that you would like from them but wait for them. Wait for them to arise naturally, don’t force them. And then don’t push them hard. The relationship is more important than the ask. If you have launched a new practice area, you will find a time to talk about it. Be a genuinely good listener and you will find that scheduling another get-together will not be very difficult. If an opportunity arose at the meeting for follow-up, then follow up – send that white paper that you discussed or share that brief or that contact information for the expert witness that you talked about. Then make a note on your tasks or to-do list to follow up with them in the future for another lunch or coffee.