The 1997 book by Harry Beckwith, Selling the Invisible, is about the differences in marketing a tangible product, the good old generic widget, as compared to selling an intangible product – a service. It is a wonderful book for those of us selling services, like we do as trial consultants. As a working photographer, this was also true for me, even though photographers have a tangible result – the photograph. Selling a service like trial consulting to our clients, most often directly to attorneys, the challenges are even greater. (And, this is similar for the attorneys marketing to their clients.) In any event, one way to sell our service is to demonstrate our expert knowledge. For Magnus, this has meant Melissa making presentations, most often, in the form of continuing legal education programs, to attorneys nationwide. Rarely is there an honorarium for such teaching efforts, more frequently, our expenses will be covered for presenting in out of town locations, but often there is no payment at all. We view our invitation to present as a trade for the “air time” with the audience. There are few other ways to demonstrate our expertise as effectively as in those environments. As such, being aware of opportunities to participate on programs is critical. But, the frustrating part is measuring the effectiveness of these efforts. You never know when you will connect with someone, when the message will resonate with the potential client, or who has a case. And, the timing of it all is such that it could be years before it comes to fruition. But without being there, showing up and being available, we do know success would not be possible. So, we keep on getting out there whenever we can.
In the time David and I have co-owned Magnus, I have given hundreds of presentations to audiences ranging from a handful of people in a law firm to hundreds of people in huge hotel ballrooms. Thus far, I have never received any compensation for making one of these speeches. On some occasions, the law firm or other sponsoring organization pays my expenses, including for my favorite speaking engagement on the “big island” of Hawai’i. Usually, I receive nothing more than polite applause at the conclusion of my speech as a thank you for my efforts. When David and I have been asked why we go to such efforts to conduct our seminars and participate in seminars sponsored by one of our clients, given it costs our time and money to do so, our answer is, “All it takes is for ONE person in the audience to like what they heard and hire us for ONE case to recoup everything we spent.” That’s right, our fees for just ONE case are sufficient to justify the time and effort we put into a presentation. Sometimes, it takes a few weeks for someone to contact us, based on having been in the audience at one of my speeches; other times, it takes many years for a presentation to pay off. However, both David and I are savvy enough about our business to know that a relatively small investment on our part has the potential to turn into considerable revenue for our company. I will end this post by saying I am ready to have another all expenses paid trip to Hawai’i, anytime!