As your firm gears up for the spring, summer and fall "marketing" season, it is important that you follow a process that helps you develop a more powerful brand in the business community.
Start with a plan. Know what you want to accomplish this year, in three years, and perhaps in five years. Once you can confirm where you want to be, the next step is to determine how to best get there. Leverage a broad mix of tactics that are appropriate for your audience and your message. Recognize that you will have to try several different options in order to have the most impact. If you are focused on some key industry niches as representing your growth areas, determine what you can do to become more involved in those specific sectors. Warning: you may have to hand pick professionals from your firm to get involved, to join trade organizations, or to meet some of the other key players serving the segment. No matter how you go about the procedure, the end result should be more 'boots on the ground' in the places where you want your firm to be recognized.
The good news is that this means you are no longer sitting around waiting for the next lead. The referral model has an important role, and traditionally we all rely on centers of influence to recommend our firms. The problem is that if this is your business development model, it forces you to play a waiting game and it places your firm in a vulnerable spot. Instead of assuming this reactive, more passive style, why not be proactive and get out there and interact with your audience? Rely on your own passion, skills and expertise to 'sell' the firm instead of relying as much on others to make the introductions for you. While you should not ignore the value of your contacts , just don't lose sight of the fact that you need to take some ownership and leverage both approaches.