I was talking to my son the other day, who is currently a junior in high school next year and is a serious football player, and as might be expected, spends a lot of time in the weight room. He was saying how his coach was showing him his lifting chart and his progress from this time last year when he was a sophomore on the amount of weight he can squat, one of the fundamental power lifts they do all year around. This time last year he could squat 270lbs, an impressive number for those of us long past our physical prime, but nothing compared to the 490lbs he can squat as of this weeks testing. As my son said, " I didn't realize how far I had come and how fast it has happened until I saw it on the chart. I just show up every day and lift and you just take the progress for granted."
While as a novice lifter he hadn't set out to hit specific targets or goals, his coach on the other hand had a program in place that he knew would get my son to that level, If he showed up every day and did the incremental work daily that built the foundation for powerful improvements and ultimately for success.
I got to thinking about that afterwards and realized that the vast majority of professionals experience the evolution of their professional practices, regardless of whether that profession is in the legal arena, financial services, real estate, medicine or some other services, in a very similar fashion. They all tend to show up every day and just sort of do the things they have always done, plowing through their emails, phone calls, appointments and professional commitments and if they are really lucky, have a few spare moments to do a little marketing or PR work to fill the pipeline of cases and prospects needed to keep their business running and family out of the poor house.
Few, if any of them, have a "strength coach" to put them on a daily program to build them up to what they could ultimately become, instead relying on natural talent to build their professional practice, or more commonly, hiring consultants and "experts" of dubious value to waste huge sums in marketing their profession for them. Some day i'll tell the stories of the in house and out sourced consultants I have encountered to help firms market and the millions of dollars I have seen wasted in the pursuit of clients and cases that never show up.
Given that most profesions realize there are tons of time wasters out there, is is clear why most won't hire a professional trainer, i.e. Marketing guru, to help them design a program to build their practice and get them to another level professionally. It costs too much, there are ton's of frauds and bogus experts, you don't have the staff to implement the plan even if it is sound, or more commonly you are scared and you have no idea what is going on in the new media world so ignoring it or dismissing it as something you don't need to learn is easier then developing a new skill or a bigger set of muscles.
Well, I've got some good news for all of you timid, financially impaired, stubborn and overwhelmed professionals. While you were going to work every day, there has been a transformative shift in not just in technology but also human behavior related to how people get information and make buying decisions. This shift is about to put unprecedented power in the hands of solo practitioners, small firms and professionals who for decades now have been overwhelmed by companies with huge budgets, marketing scale or monopolistic marketing grips on certain professions.
In much the same way personal computing collapsed the power of centralized computing and liberated offices from the tryany of the main frame computer, in just the last three to five years there has been what will some day be recognized as an epocal change thanks to cloud computing, search engines and social networks.
When I first launched Legal Broadcast Network as a live audio streaming weekly show six years ago, the cost, complexity and pain involved to just do a twice a week broadcast was overwhelming. Imagine being charged $30,000 per month for a weekly audio broadcast, web site and emailing program! However, that was the price you paid because there was no Ipod, few blogs, RSS feeds were arcane and something called YouTube had just started. This wasn't the dark ages, this was six years ago, and to get the tools to broadcast you had to pay fealty to the shysters who ran little broadcast operations and who needed to amortize their multi-million dollar investments in overhead and soon to be obsolete tools.
Only my conviction that we were on to something big kept me grinding along despite the best efforts of the old school tech types to guard their high cost communication franchises and prevent ordinary business people from using the rapidly evolving tools that would soon put most of them out of business. You see, that same audio broadcast today might cost a professional who engaged our studio about $1000 a month to produce, host, distribute and archive audio and only slightly more for full video broadcasts. The cost of promoting your business and developing content has plunged and will only go lower in the years ahead and the old school firms with high cost structures are dead in the water and their is no turning back. Virtually anyone with a web cam, blog, email address and 6th grade computer skills can create video broadcasts, post them, promote them and push them out into the internet for the world to discover, or increasingly, share among social networking friends and contacts.
However, the massive cost reduction, ease of broadcating and ability to distribute isn't the really important element of the sea change going on around us, it is just the most visible and measurable aspect of a fundamental societal change in buying behavior and the destruction of the old line marketing platforms. Old sales enterprises and monopolies like the Yellow Pages, as well as some of the transitional ones like Craigs List, which will someday be remembered in much the same way as Selectric Typewriters, Compuserve and AOL dial up service and chat rooms are now. Relics of a long ago time that were overwhelmed by change they couldn't see or control.
Google/YouTube and Bing, along with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Hulu and Apple, are moving full speed to set up powerful franchises in local search, local classifieds, narrow cast/special content broadcasting, professional networking and consumer information platforms that can be immediately searched, viewed on hand-helds and shared instantly with the consumers social circle. The impact on marketing for wide numbers of professions is so profound and powerful and is happening at such speed that the vast majority of those impacted have no idea what is facing them in the next five to ten years.
The good news in all of this, is that what it requires of you to take part in this change is simple, direct, low cost and incredibly powerful, but it requires you to "show up at the gym" five days a week and do the necessary work as part of your day in order to get the big time results that will bring amazing professional success, financial freedom and the ability to control your firms destiny.
In part Two of this look at transforming your professional practice and marketing reach, I'll go into the steps you need to be taking RIGHT NOW to prepare for this shift and to do the things daily to build yourself into a powerful, self contained and controlled marketing platform. Until you wake up, get to work and do certain things every day to handle the transition, you will be giving up ground you can't recover in the future to those who got started early.