Carolyn Elefant has a great piece up today entitled "McMarketing vs. The Real Deal." Good stuff, generalizable to any industry.
Some juicy bits:
"It's pretty clear that law marketing has invaded large firm practice - and guess what? They're all doing the same thing. Two large firm attorneys spoke at the conference that I attended; both had the requisite power point presentations which they'd also printed out on paper emblazoned with the firm logo and contact information. Both attorneys gave polished presentations, explaining just enough, in general terms - but not "giving away the store." In other words, none of the papers cited the statutory support for the matters discussed or listed references where people might go to learn more. So, that I gathered is Practice 1 of Biglaw McMarketing - give away enough to make 'em call you, but no more."
(By the way, McMarketing Practice 2 is "Be Elusive," and Practice 3, "Speak To Industry Associations.")
Although Carolyn, a solo practitioner, was presenting against The Big Names on the card, let's see what happened at the end of the day:
"Finally, here's the beauty of not following marketing rules sometimes and just going with the flow. By the end of the conference, the rumblings about starting a trade association became a true organized effort and I was drafted as Legislative Director and interviewed for the local TV station. Because of my blogging background (naturally, I touted my professional blog during my talk), I was able to throw together a website for our fledgling organization while others started the efforts on the Hill. Had I just waltzed into the conference and left after my talk, this opportunity never would have fallen into my lap. Only I know it really didn't fall, it's the product of a foundation that I've been laying in this field for at least a decade. " (emphasis added)
Doing generic presentations with PowerPoint is pretty near the top of the list of Things That Are The Devil. (Happy to add that I think it's been at least three years since I walked into a customer meeting with a presentation, unless it was specifically requested. The look of circuits popping when calmly stating "No, no presentation...actually was hoping we could chat and you could help us better understand what problems you are having" is priceless.)
While on the subject, here's a clue. All press releases look the same. Yeah, you've written one like this at some point in your career (and, guilty as charged, I have too):
[Company name], a [noted | leading | large] provider of [insert industry name here] solutions is [happy | pleased | thrilled] to announce [a new customer | a new product].
[Paragraph with lame details here]
[Paragraph with glowing quote from executive here, that was written by someone else]
[Paragraph with contrived quote from a customer here, that was written by someone else]
[Paragraph from a "Noted Industry Analyst"® here, that took three weeks to get approved through the analyst's business prevention department]
[Pollyanna penultimate paragraph painting priceless predictions for the future of the industry]
[About Company X, a rehash of the lame stuff in the first sentence of the first paragraph]
I can hear the cries now..."Oh, we can't be creative and do things differently. We wouldn't look like the others in our industry, then. And besides that, it's hard."
That's why it's worth doing.