Seed Planting

Way back in elementary school we probably all heard the story of Johnny Appleseed who went on a mission to introduce apples to various parts of the northern United States. Not only did I hear this story (which apparently is true, at least if you believe Wikipedia, however, the man’s name was Chapman, not Appleseed), but I portrayed Johnny in an elementary school play. Perhaps that is why, today, I find myself planting seeds, marketing wise, in many, many ways! Marketing is not as straightforward as a textbook would teach. Other books may be more accurate in providing examples of how marketing is a never ending process and how networking (seed planting) pays off – you just never know where those apple trees will grow. My partner and I have spent thousands of hours and dollars going to meetings, lunches, seminars, and events to get “face time” and to tell people about our company, Magnus, and/or to provide an educational seminar designed to demonstrate our expertise in the trial consulting realm. Rarely are our expenses, not to mention an honorarium, paid for these seminars, but I have always viewed them as seed planting. We’ve even planted seeds in graduate school, college, and law school classes. You never know when one of those students will become clients. We’ve had a few calls over the years from someone who was present in a law school class who has now been tasked with finding a trial consultant. The seed sprouted! That’s the goal. I have heard a few experts/consultants over the years who do not share this perspective and who only want to do seminars or programs if they are paid. I don’t think it works that way, although I wish it did. But, the reality is, the more one can get out and plant the seeds (or at least hand out some business cards), the more opportunities one can find. The key is to find the fertile fields of prospect rich environments to target. Evaluating those fields is usually not a one off visit to a group or event. It takes time to evaluate the group, to get to know the people there and determine the appropriate level of effort to spend. I’ve gone to many events over the years – and some did not pan out, but only by going will one know where to focus the efforts. Go Johnny go!

David’s closing sentence, of course, reminds me of a song by the late, great Chuck Berry, “Johnny B. Goode.” The lyric, “Go go. Go Johnny, go, go” has incited many dance moves, not to mention air guitar playing, and serves as a great reminder of just how far one can go in life with a little determination and a lot of talent. But, given David’s “Johnny” is the Appleseed, not the Goode, variety, I will stick to the point of his writing. Magnus has been in business for decades, but the seed planting has never stopped. David is actively involved in marketing our business on a daily basis, whether he is phoning a prospective client about a case, attending a networking function, or scheduling a seminar for me to lecture at a lawyers group. None of these seed planting tasks results in a direct payment; in fact, they more often than not involve a cost to Magnus in the form of travel or meal expenses. On the rare occasions when I have received a honorarium for speaking at a seminar, it has been payment of my out of pocket expenses rather than a fee based on the educational value of my lecture. There was one special time when all my expenses were paid for my participation as a faculty member at an upscale conference of design professionals (architects, engineers, etc.). Lucky me: the conference was in Hawaii! Needless to say, it is unlikely there will ever be another gig like that one. Presenting educational seminars in Gainesville, Florida is the opposite of Hawaii on the “fun places to go” scale for me, but I do it at every available opportunity. Why? Why would I agree to spend money to go to Gainesville to lecture to a bunch of lawyers? Because that is how we get new clients! There have been too many times to count when, soon after hearing my lecture, an attorney retains Magnus for a new case. Absent meeting me and hearing my lecture, this attorney would never have known I existed. Sewing seeds today for tomorrow’s business is not exciting, but it is essential for success. Go, go. Go Johnny, go go!

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