Bringing Our Prospects to Us (Issue 447)

In which we explore “expertise marketing” - speak, write, or be written about - as a pipeline development strategy.

Sunday morning, I did a little research on Roth IRAs, answering a pointed spousal inquiry.

Using a well known search engine, I found a December 6, 2009 Detroit Free Press column, “Savers May Benefit from Converting IRAs,”  quoting three people about converting traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs: A vice president from Comerica Bank, a money manager from Robert W. Baird &Co., and a senior tax analyst at the tax and accounting business of Thomson Reuters

I thought, “these people sound knowledgeable,” so I searched for additional information about them on line to see whether they have commented on any others aspects of Roth IRAs. Turns out, two of them have. So, I clicked through to their other articles and I checked out their credentials on Linked In. I’m now at the point of using Linked In to write to them to ask some additional questions. From their end, this will look like, “I got quoted and my email started buzzing.”

Yup, that would be it, and this could be us. If we give a presentation and get quoted or written about in the local newspaper, or if we write a letter to the editor or a guest column, we’re now experts  someone might pursue. (The tricks here are: (1) We actually have to DEVELOP some expertise and a point of view in order to write the presentation or the letter or the article, and (2) we have to be willing to work some/many personal hours to prepare and market our points of view.)

True story. One of our bank client’s branch managers, active in her church, became very interested in church finances and managing cash flow. She “studied up” on the subject, thought about the information she learned in her sales calls on churches, and put together a presentation for congregation members actively involved with their churches’ finances. A reporter, a congregation member at one of the churches to which she spoke, was inspired to write an article about her and her presentation. The branch manager shared the article with other churches as part of her business development program. Suddenly, “making her goals” was not a problem. Church board members were seeking HER attention.

How can each of us replicate this? It begins with, “One, two, take a view.”

1. Identify a common challenge or opportunity that our clients or nearby business people face, and about which we are interested and (to use an overused word) “passionate.”

2. Do your homework – use on line resources, fellow employees, customers, and professional services providers to learn more about the challenges and typical solutions
3. Take a view – Develop our points of view and a presentation expressing our view. “Ten steps to avoid cash flow shortfalls.” “Four points to consider when setting up college savings programs.” “Three critical issues small business owners (often forget to) address.

The next steps vary, depending on our strategy (presentation, article, quotes in others’ articles, etc.).

4. Find an audience – local chamber events, etc. etc. local newspapers or business publications
5. Tell people about the presentation – spread the word, including a note to editors or reporters whocover our markets
6. Do a great job with the presentation or article
7. Share the presentation or article as widely as we can.
8. Repeat from step 4.

And keep repeating. Over a period of time, we’ll build up a body of work that will confirm our status as experts and bring us to the top of search lists when our clients and prospects go looking on line for answers to their questions. This is what brings our prospects to us.

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