Pay Your Own Way Marketing

Marketing is a big topic. It covers many things including advertising, sales, strategy, research and more. It was one of my 3 undergraduate majors and though some things have changed, for example, the transition from traditional advertising to social media advertising, the basics have long been the same. Getting yourself or your company known for what you do, how you do it, and why your company should be hired or your product should be bought are the goals. In our world of selling a service, this entails demonstrating knowledge and expertise. One of the ways we have done this over the years has been to arrange for Melissa to speak with groups of attorneys or others professionals involved in litigation aspects. The vast majority of these speaking engagements involve paying our own way to the event, including travel and hotel expenses. The norm is that, if Melissa is speaking, she is usually registered for the conference at no charge, but we pay the cost of getting there. All companies spend money on marketing of some sort and we’ve been willing to engage in this type of tradeoff. In the last 10 to 15 years, however, organizations often require payment of a “sponsorship” fee or something to speak. We rarely accept these “pay to play” engagements, and Melissa finds them particularly distasteful. In her view, she is already providing her expertise and not being paid for it. To ask for money on top of that is offensive. And, I’d suggest that, if it ends up that the organization’s speakers are only those willing to buy in; the result is that, perhaps, they are not the best speakers on a topic. While that is our general approach, it has been interesting over the years to come across 1 or 2 experts who were unwilling even to foot their own expenses. Again, I see paying the expenses as a marketing item. These presentations usually have a payoff somewhere down the line, so getting in front of these audiences is worth the effort and expense. Rarely have we, well Melissa, been compensated for said expenses, but I’m happy to report that the most memorable of these involved a trip to Hawai’i, all expenses paid.

My first job upon completion of my Ph.D. was Director of Marketing Research at a large hospital in Jacksonville.  I don’t know what the marketing department’s budget was, but the amount of money it spent on marketing and public relations must have been in the multi millions.  I can’t begin to imagine what this hospital, not to mention other big corporations, spend on marketing and public relations these days.  Magnus is a small company and our marketing budget is minuscule.  Our primary form of marketing, in my opinion, is the excellent work product we provide to our clients.  In our 30 years of business, Magnus has had hundreds of satisfied clients who not only return to us as often as they can, but who also refer their colleagues to us, who in turn, become satisfied clients.  Our next most successful form of marketing is in the form of presentations I make to attorneys and insurance adjusters professional organizations.  All of these presentations are the result of either an invitation from one of our many clients or an invitation from someone who was in the audience at one of my prior presentations.  Typically, we obtain business from one or more people who attend my presentations and the revenue we earn from this new client’s case is many times more than the relatively low cost of airfare, hotel rooms, and meals.  In addition, the conferences in which I have been a part are always held at upscale hotels and resorts, with lots of opportunities for fine dining and leisure pursuits nearby.  I agree with David that the most memorable presentation I ever made was at a design professionals (architects and engineers) conference on the “big island” of Hawai’i, in the beautiful state of the same name.  However, if anyone has a speaking opportunity for me that will top that amazing, all expenses paid, trip, I am ready, willing, and able to go!

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