Online Business Development For Beginners

Are you ready to kick off your online business development the right way? You’ll be pleased to know that there are many excellent established practices that can help guide your business from its beginning all the way through a fruitful and long journey of success. While online marketing has many similarities to traditional marketing, there are also many differences, as well as new facets and angles to consider. To properly succeed with online business development you need to understand the ins and outs of online marketing.

The great thing about online business development is that it doesn’t need to cost any money. Yes, there are paid online advertising opportunities, including the popular Google AdWords (a Pay Per Click service). These tools can be successful but aren’t the best place to start, especially when you are on a budget. You have to turn to free methods that can pay serious dividends for the time you put in.

When you’re creating your new website, you have to realize how online content is different from offline content. The content of your website needs to be easily readable and digestible. It should be short and to the point, and it should draw people into it. People skim rather than read online, so you have to find a way to get your point across in less time and in less space.

Another key difference between online business development and offline marketing is that before people ever even evaluate whether they want to read your content, they need a chance to get to your site, your blog or your article. This is opposed to say, an advertisement in a newspaper, where anybody flipping through the newspaper will see your advertisement. All you have to do there is capture their attention.

With your online business, you need to capture their attention as well, but you first need to get them there. This entails search engine optimization, social networking and link building among other strategies to drive traffic to your website. Search engine optimization involves creating keyword-optimized content that will help get you found in search engines.

Creating Your Own Business Upturn – Powering Business Development

We all see it . . . business markets are trying hard but continue to be flat, easily scared, and “frozen in the headlights,” – – – primarily maintaining, and definitely not building. Workforce attitudes suffer from a steady flow of negative global and economic events, career disappointments, and the constant threat of being laid off. Customers are struggling to identify their path forward, which in turn makes it even more difficult for any business to determine their own plans for the future. The fear of post Enron scrutiny on business leaders and organizations is ever present. When will the “upturn” come?

In response, it seems companies are moving forward on the back of very conservative and “tactical” decisions and day-to-day activities. Why? Because they are much safer, and not as likely to be second-guessed. “Winning big” has become much less of a focus than not losing big! Unfortunately, tactical approaches focused on day-to-day survival versus a bigger picture do not prepare companies for the future, nor do they capture the immense value that is inherent in times of great change, uncertainty and disruption. And the longer this goes on, the more steep and slippery the slope on which they reside becomes! But again, when will the “upturn” come?

Sad news . . . the general upturn that many are hoping will arrive to “save them” is not coming. It will be up to each and every company to uniquely and quickly use every part of the current business environment they face to literally create their own upturn!

For a company to create and continuously advance their own business upturn, they will need to amass the full knowledge, talent, experience and capabilities of their organization and in certain cases introduce some outside influences to:

· Identify the “what, where and when” of their current environment while

· Simultaneously identifying “exploitable discontinuities” and related new mountain tops for the future, and then . . .

· Develop short, mid and long-term commitments and plans that tactically harvest the most out of today without compromising placement for success tomorrow.

Below are some steps that can help companies quickly accomplish this:

1. Identify the “upturn team” and include:

· “Quiet leaders”, “unsung heroes”, and possibly a “cynic” or two.

· Those involved with the current situation at a management / tactical level.

· New employees (and especially those from other industries or companies).

· Business development, market research, “future minded” personnel (internal or external).

· Those who are feeling the most “stress” from the current circumstances such as:

· Functional leads

· Strategic management

· Vendors who supply clients

· Customer support/feedback centers of knowledge

· Financial stakeholders

2. Challenge the “upturn team” to fully:

· Define and validate the current conditions with facts, not anecdotal conclusions.

· Identify and understand the conditions that drive the current situation.

3. Analyze the causal source of the conditions, their interrelationships, and identify patterns, trends, future “points of change” and impacts, potential market “backlashes”, new opportunities, etc. and focus on the “critical few ” items that will have the greatest potential to create upturn value.

4. Brainstorm and develop “value scenarios” that optimize the near and medium term with a view toward maximizing the long term.

5. Coordinate value scenarios with infrastructure development plans and financial capability to identify and eliminate “barriers to success” and validate return on investment before beginning.

6. Communicate the vision and the tactical details as they apply to each participant to create a constant “call to action” for successful implementation.

7. Compliment and encourage what people start, and enthusiastically celebrate what they finish!

Fear, uncertainty, and lack of ownership often inhibit participation, creativity and expression of thoughts and ideas. It is usually beneficial to utilize internal or even external facilitators to overcome these concerns. In so doing, companies often find they have created a “process” for thinking strategically AND tactically to ensure the “upturn” created becomes a company way of life, versus a one-time event!

Copyright 2003, PBK Communications. All rights reserved.

How to Make Time For Legal Marketing and Business Development

One of the chief complaints I receive from the attorneys that I meet and work with is that they just don’t have time for legal marketing. While billable hours, day-to-day emergencies and time outside the office all add up, there are definite ways to go about making time for legal marketing and business development. The key is to think of it as an ongoing habit, not something to “make time for.” Rather than seeing marketing and business development as a burden, think of it as an integral part of your day-to-day life. The interesting thing about creating this kind of habit is that once you find the right system for your individual lifestyle it should simply become second nature.

The benefits to making time are numerous. Aside from building relationships with potential clients and referral sources, taking advantage of marketing and business development opportunities can help increase your visibility AND credibility in the legal arena and beyond. Writing articles and participating in social media help you create and build a personal brand-something that every lawyer should have. True dedication and time commitment can even bring you recognition as an expert in your chosen practice area or within a specific industry.

Below are a few suggestions and lessons from attorneys I’ve worked with, as well as my own observations and experience. Choose the path that make sense for you or adapt the suggestions to work within your own day, but give it a chance. Do something! The rewards you will reap are far greater than a 5-minute time commitment.

  • Multi-task. No one I know comes into the office and immediately gets to work. One solution to the time crunch is to fold your marketing and business development efforts into your morning routine. As you sit down to your desk with your morning coffee or tea (or breakfast…) browse through your contacts or referral lists and send a few emails; read a legal marketing blog; update your social media or even spend 10 minutes working on a potential article or speech. By 9 am you’ll have accomplished something solid and can focus the rest of your day on other endeavors. Alternately, you can do the same thing during a quick lunch at your desk or coffee break. You’d be surprised how far 10 minutes can go.
  • Save it up. One attorney I know has created a special folder in her email Inbox specifically for legal marketing emails. As the weekly or daily updates from the blogs and social media groups she subscribes to come in she simply directs them to the folder. Then, once a week she takes an hour out of her day to read through the week’s emails and respond to them accordingly. She’s able to keep up to date on legal marketing news and colleague updates, post articles and communicate about possible speaking engagements without disrupting the flow of her day.
  • End your day. A colleague of mine channels his efforts into work all day but integrates marketing into his nighttime routine. With the stresses of the day (and impending deadlines, phone calls and emails) over, he sets aside 15-20 minutes a night before bed to investigate marketing leads, send emails to potential referral sources and work on articles and social media.
  • Schedule it in… for the first month. If all else fails, treat legal marketing as a literal client. Put it on your schedule and make no excuses for not paying attention to it, just as you would a client. Whether it’s once a week or biweekly, set aside specific time for uninterrupted focus. After the first month I can guarantee that finding time for business development will feel effortless.

Simple in theory but never easy in practice, without a true commitment you can never reap the rewards of a solid marketing habit. Filling your pipeline with work, receiving recognition as an expert and gaining credibility and visibility won’t happen all at once, but you can be sure they will happen. Just as with any other endeavor, it takes focus and time to see results.

Business Development Strategies in Legal Publishing Can Work for You

Hoping people will buy your published material or products will be the death of your business! No longer is the traditional one-way publishing model or company-centric thinking acceptable or profitable. According to Mark Rousseau, General Manager for Findlaw/Lexpert at Thomson Carswell, “You need to find out what the client’s needs are and develop products and services to address those needs to succeed in today’s business world.”

Let’s take for example, Mark Rousseau’s growth mandate of 30% compounded growth over the next 5 years. How does he plan to achieve this? According to Mark, they are undertaking a number of business development initiatives to meet their division’s growth objective.

Thomson Carswell acquired Lexpert Magazine in 2004 from entrepreneur and publisher John Alexander Black and hired Mark Rousseau who has more than 20 years of publishing experience to operate and grow the business. The staff size has since doubled from 15 to 30 employees. According to Mark, “the only other thing that has changed is billing and IT which has been centralized with Thomson Carswell’s operations”. The entrepreneurial operation of the publication itself has remained intact.

Always thinking of ways to grow the business, Mark Rousseau has shifted their advertising focus to include new potential advertisers in the business-to-business and luxury goods categories. This makes perfect sense when you realize that the average corporate reader’s annual income is in excess of $150,000!

If you want to be viewed as an industry leader, be the first to do something different! Lexpert is leading the way by planning and hosting the first ever Rising Stars Awards show this November for the top 40 Canadian Corporate Counsel and Leading Lawyers in private practice under age 40, in partnership with The Globe and Mail. This out of the box thinking has also led to other innovative initiatives. According to Mark Rousseau, the pilot for their business development course was so successful last year that they are planning to do six 1 ½ days business development courses in 2006. Each course will be taught by a leading lawyer in a specific practice area with his/her own unique course material for a maximum of 30 corporate counsel and senior level executives.

Building strategic partnerships is not a new idea but if you are able to leverage your partnerships like Lexpert has done with the two national dailies in Canada, National Post and The Globe & Mail, you too can have a captive audience of senior business executives in exchange for current and relevant corporate deal news. Once a week, features from Lexpert’s Big Deals column appear in the Legal Post section of the National Post; and coming soon, a new deal with The Globe and Mail which takes effect on Oct 1, 2006 will further assist Lexpert’s clients in reaching their target market of Canadian business executives.

Lexpert, now part of the global information powerhouse Thomson Corporation, understands the importance of leverage. Through joint initiatives with their U.S. sister companies Thomson West (the largest legal information provider in the U.S.) and Findlaw (a popular U.S. legal Internet site), Lexpert has been able to successfully enter the U.S. legal marketplace and reach 15,000 U.S. Corporate Counsel and 10,000 Leading U.S. lawyers with their magazine. They now do a 25,000 mailing twice a year in the U.S. market with the help of their U.S. siblings, to provide valuable exposure for their Canadian advertising clients and to increase the magazine’s readership beyond Canadian borders.

With an increasing base of web savvy clients, Mark Rousseau also plans to have everything in print, available online and has a team of web developers revamping their corporate web site at http://www.lexpert.ca to improve their users’ navigational experience. For example, if you are a corporate lawyer, you will be directed to view information on the site that is relevant to you.

Lexpert is certainly no stranger to launching successful products into the legal marketplace. Their print publications like “Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory”; “Lexpert/American Lawyer Media Guide to the Leading Top 500 Lawyers in Canada”; “Lexpert/CCCA Directory and Yearbook”; and “Lexpert Law Student & Associate Recruitment Guide” have all been well received by their intended markets. Even their much anticipated online product Deal Monitor, currently under development and slated to be released before the end of this year, is bound to be another huge success as this product promises to address the needs and demands of their key clients.

With assistance from Thomson Financial and Thomson West, this database will consist of Canadian and U.S. based corporate deals dating back 5 years. This online subscription tool will have analytical capabilities such as trending with historical data, customized search capabilities, and the ability to produce custom graphs and much more. According to Mark, they are not a magazine but “a vehicle to help their clients develop their business”. He contributes much of their success to the close relationships they have developed with their clients.

For those starting a publishing business, he recommends focusing on the web, as the print publishing industry is saturated and a tough model to build and sustain. He also suggests that you get audience generated content to guarantee the readership of your publication.

The moral of this story, no matter what industry you are from, finding out what your clients’ needs are and developing products and services to address those needs is the key to your company’s success and profitability.

Article Summary of Best Practices for Business Development:

– Find out what your clients’ needs are and develop products and services to address those needs

– Create a solid business plan to help achieve your company’s growth objective

– Research the demographics of your target audience to expand in the right direction

– Be the first out of the box with something new in your industry

– Create opportunities to allow your clients to demonstrate their expertise

– Form and leverage strategic partnerships

– Invest in the development of products and services that your target market needs & would pay for

– Create a company web site that is easy to navigate and provides a good user experience

– Have your products and services available online

– Focus on building partnership relationships with your clients

– Research the industry you are thinking of entering

– Survey your clients or potential clients for new ideas