Monday, July 22, 2013

Seven Steps to Get Prospective Client Meetings

How can you crack open the door to meet potential new clients?  I worked with an architectural firm that specializes in health care design and has offices in NY, PA, Ohio and Florida, and I was able to accomplish two major goals for them:

1.     Get the principals in the door to meet and present their capabilities to the vice president of facilities in seven institutions.
2.     Develop a customer relations database of 300 institutions which included a chronological account of my contacts with these institutions.

How did I go about attaining these goals for my client?  Here’s a step by step:

Step One – We first established various parameters for the targeted institutions:  geographic area, size, type (acute, psychiatric, etc.) and maximum travel distance from one of my client’s offices.

Step Two -- Using a list of hospitals from a commercial vendor, we incorporated the basic information of each organization into a contact management software program and segmented prospects by size, type of facility and location.

Step Three -- We drew up several positioning points that established the unique skills and expertise of the firm.  These talking points were incorporated into every type of contact we made and they were strategically inserted into letters, emails, phone conversations and presentations. 

Step Four – We assembled a portfolio of online project sheets as our core marketing communications materials.  I referenced these projects when I called prospective hospital clients and we were able to immediately send the appropriate project sheets with a tailored cover letter as a follow-up.   I did this from an email account on my client’s web site, not from my office. 

Step Five – I researched and called  each institution to find out who the senior person was who hired architects; began to make the institution aware of my client’s capabilities, and established the preferred contact method – via email, postal mail, landline or cell phone.  

Step Six – I sorted the potential clients into various lead categories – hot leads, not interested, call back in six months, unable to contact yet -- and followed up appropriately.

Step Seven– Eventually, I set up meetings with seven prospective clients.  I remained the key contact until a few days before the meeting, when I turned the responsibility of keeping in contact with the prospect over to the partners and business development executives of the firm. 

Long Term – To keep roiling the pot of potential clients, I weekly check my database and follow up.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sidebar Strategies

Being nimble, assertive, creative, and data driven are certainly the best overall business development and marketing strategies.  Sometimes, however, just being there, when the competition is not, is a successful business strategy.   At other times, not burning bridges with past clients can offer a surprisingly successful segue into  attaining future work.

Recently I had the opportunity of meeting with a potential client before she announced she was looking for a consultant.  How did that happen?  I keep a targeted list of 40 near-by national and regional colleges and at least once a year I send out very basic promotional material to their public relations directors and follow-up with a phone call.  This builds awareness of my services,  helps cultivate relationships over time, allows me to update my prospect list and is a superior way to gather  raw intelligence about my competition. 

The director from one school responded to my email with a cheery note saying my timing was perfect, that they were looking for a publicist and writer, but were struggling with how to conduct the search.  I met with the director, and she hired me without even putting out a request for proposal to other consultants.  Just being there before others turned the trick.

When you get fired from a job, it is natural to resent it, but try not to overtly express resentment because the bitter after-taste will linger with the client long after you are gone; whereas if you express appreciation for the work you have been privileged to complete, the good feelings can lay the foundation for future work.

A year ago, after I had been working as a consultant for a large medical institution for over a decade, a new VP was appointed and he wanted all work done in-house.   I was told my services were no longer needed.  In parting, I said I greatly valued the exciting work I had been assigned to do over the years (which was true) -- and left.  Within a year, I received an email out of the blue from this same VP who was now a Sr. VP at another institution, and, knowing my work, he asked me to undertake a large number of projects.  I don’t think that would have happened if we had parted on a sour note.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Zen of Public Speaking

I just read a short and sweet book called A Zen monk had sweaty palms: Pointers on the path to better public speaking, that in haiku-like one-page nuggets convincingly tells us how to speak like a river; to control the audience’s eyes; to help our listeners see anew.   It's both fun and informative.

You can flip through A Zen Monk and land on a “pointer” that will help you hone your best skills, or pause to read how to improve a real weakness.  For example, a perennial weakness for most of us is stage fright.  Zen says that stage fright arises from fixating on a possible problem during a presentation, not on the goal.  A tennis player focuses on the ball not the net; a golfer does not focus on the sand trap.  We should focus on the outcome we want or the process we’re using to get to it.  

Each speaking point (there are over 50) is amplified and enlivened with an anecdote or a Shakespearean quote, a Bob Dylan song or an event about a celebrity. 

The author is Sims Wyeth, a consultant for international business who practices the “art and science of high stakes presentations.”   For a pleasantly different book on public speaking visit

Monday, June 4, 2012

11 Ways Publicity Has Punch in a World of Social Media

Trustworthy content is still at the core of effectively reaching influential target audiences.  Content from publicity (getting a story about you or your services published in print or produced in video or audio) has multiple, steady benefits in the age of Facebook and Twitter.  Here are 11 of them:

  • Repeated publicity, no matter what platform, reaffirms all targeted publics that your organization is a “go to” expert in your field.
  • It keeps your name  “top of mind” among audiences who are making decisions at that moment.  Publicity can be the tipping point in using your services.
  • Repetition builds reputations.  A continual string of stories about your practice or institution is powerful in image building.
  • Publicity establishes and strengthens your unique “brand” among targeted groups – it can define you and your strengths vs. your competition. 
  • Publicity instills pride in your staff.  It is third party public recognition of your professionalism.
  • It improves recruitment – young professionals who are looking for a job want to work for the best, and the best-known.
  • Publicity can be used to produce marketing communications material for proposals, direct marketing, advertising and presentations.
  • All print and electronic publicity can be repurposed for use in social media – on blog posts, on Facebook pages, on Twitter and Linked-in. 
  • CredibilityStories on TV, on radio or in magazines and newspapers have third party credibility.  The content has been vetted and written by professional journalists.
  • Publicity can trigger direct inquiries about your services.
  • Publicity can help you change your image and open doors to new markets.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Social Media: Physician Friend or Foe?

One candid and enlightening discussion about the rewards and risks of physicians using social media can be found in a recent round table chat sponsored by Orthopedics Today at  Half a dozen orthopedic surgeons explain how and why they are using some social media platforms, but not others, to reach specific audiences for specific reasons.  The discussion offers thoughtful and responsible “best practice” nuggets for the use of social media by professionals.

Orthopedic physicians seeking to exchange clinical and business practice ideas that can be openly challenged by peers are turning to restricted-access forums (“collaborative practice communities” with firewalls) such as and and .

Physicians seeking more to “educate patients and improve their online reputation”  are creating websites or blogs that allow deep Web 2 integration with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, according to Howard J. Luks, MD., who has developed a social media presence that is a model for others.  Another way for physicians to educate the public and gain an online presence is through consumer Q&A websites such as HealthTap, ShareCare and Avvo.

The forum addresses sensitive issues of patient confidentiality, legal ‘phishing’ and who in a medical office should be responsible for participating and monitoring blog, Facebook and Twitter posts.   This discussion is worth more than a cursory read and shows how social media can compliment traditional marketing and public relations.