Bruce W. Marcus has written an article that professional service firm marketers and the fee-earners in those firms should read. Titled "Why Professional Services Marketing 3.0 Matters for Your Future - and What To Do About It," the article takes us back to Professional Services Marketing 1.0 (where some firms sadly still live) and the Bates decision (1977) which struck down the ethical rules that prohibited any promotional activity for legal and accounting firms.
Marcus asserts that the Bates decision created the beginnings of the marketing practices used today and it introduced the concept of competition as "the major driving force in not only developing new marketing practices, but in changing the nature of the professional firm itself."
In the early days after the Bates decision (and I would argue up until the 1990s), most accounting and law firms had not begun to adapt and the condescending line quoted in the title of this post was likely often said and heard. (An aside: I know professional service firm marketers today who have been heard such language - even been the subject of it.) These firms were, as Marcus puts it, in the 1.0 stage of professional service firm marketing.
Stage 2.0 is "the growth and development of contemporary marketing" and Stage 3.0 is "the emerging marketing practice in which professionals fully participate in—and are even beginning to be the initiators of— the marketing process" which further accelerates the change in professional firms, according to Marcus.
Marcus notes that the evolutionary process from Stage 1.0 to Stage 3.0 results in change and that change, "particularly in a dynamic economic environment" makes it difficult to plan for the long-term. Yet, plan we must. He offers steps to planning for a 3.0 firm (or those heading towards 3.0). I have bolded the points that resonated most with me:
Marcus says it best when he wraps up the article:
Today, there are firms still in 1.0 and firms thundering forward in 3.0. The 3.0 firm is the one that is most likely to survive the future.
This is all part of his new book, Professional Services Marketing 3.0, which I hope to be reading soon.
Ever feel like your sales conversations don’t go as well as you would have liked? Perhaps there was something nagging at you that made you think, “I could be doing something better. Something to win more and bigger sales, but I’m not sure what.”
No matter what you’re selling, at some point you have conversations with buyers. Much selling success is determined here. Over the years I’ve seen too many sales people, leaders, and professionals struggle to create sales conversations, kick them off well, uncover needs, create enthusiasm with the prospect, and win business. Without realizing it they make the same mistakes over and over again that end up losing sales.
That’s why I’m so excited that my friends over at RAIN Group (publishers of RainToday) have just released a new book, Rainmaking Conversations, which teaches you everything you need to know about leading masterful sales conversations.
This year alone, Mercer Capital has written and published three books. The latest is Buy-Sell Agreements for Closely Held and Family Business Owners.
This book, written by Chris Mercer, is a follow-on to the 2007 book, Buy-Sell Agreements: Ticking Time Bombs or Reasonable Resolutions?. The newest book is written directly to and for business owners. It is very conversational in tone which makes it an easy read. However, don't let the tone fool you – the book is full of valuable information that no business owner (or advisor to business owners) should overlook.
From the book:
Buy-sell agreements are not merely legal documents to be signed and forgotten. How they operate when triggered can have huge consequences for a business owner, his or her family, and the business. Are you sure that you know what will happen when your agreement is triggered? If not, this book is for you. It provides critical information and insight you won't find anywhere else – information that can save you and/or your heirs money, as well as possibly control of your business.
This is the business owner's self-defense manual. Reading it could be the most cost-effective hour or two you've ever invested. Don't dare sign a buy-sell agreement until you've read and pondered the questions posed in this book. Your life('s work) may depend on it!
In direct and non-technical terms, Mercer thoughtfully explores the pros and cons of competing approaches, unflinchingly expressing his specific recommendations. Anyone who owns or advises a privately owned business needs to read this book.
For more information about the book and the topic of buy-sell agreements, we have created a dedicated website at www.buysellagreementsonline.com. Check it out and let me know what you think.
I have no idea why one would want to do this, however, it is interesting nonetheless. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you "How to Hollow a Book 80 in Easy Steps" (complete with pictures). This is not for the faint-hearted nor those who consider the defilement of a book sacrilege but, on second thought, might be a nice way to hide valuables around the house in plain sight.
I was posting quite regularly for a while, then things dropped off to only "Happy Mondays." Why? Because we were in the midst of launching yet another book. This one is entitled "The Bank Director's Valuation Handbook: What Every Director Must Know About Valuation."
Per Mercer Capital's website:
Why Is This Handbook Important?
Valuation issues intersect with a bank’s affairs more often than you may imagine, and they are likely to arise during your tenure as a director or manager. These valuation issues might include merger and acquisition activity, an employee stock ownership plan, capital planning, litigation, or financial planning, among others. Mercer Capital has been working with financial institutions for over 25 years and has provided valuation and other financial consulting services to thousands of clients. We find that most of our clients have the same basic questions about these important valuation issues. This handbook is written to address many of these questions and to provide useful information for bank directors and managers when valuation needs emerge. It is unique in that it focuses specifically on valuation-related issues, and is designed to be a ready resource rather than an academic treatise.
Who Should Read This Handbook and Why?
This handbook is written specifically for bank directors and managers. It provides basic information and insight into those circumstances that involve valuation and other financial consulting. Each chapter addresses a valuation issue that might surface at your financial institution. Meant to stand alone, the chapters summarize the key issues on which you should focus and provide insight and a vocabulary to assist you in asking the right questions of your professional advisors.
You can get your copy here.
Tagging a text with the label “classic” should not be done carelessly. But 50 years after its initial release, few would disagree that Revenue Ruling 59-60 deserves the title. Written in the spare, unadorned style of a government publication, the Ruling is a compact storehouse of enduring practical wisdom for business appraisers and the users of appraisal reports.
At Mercer Capital, we decided the 50th anniversary of the Ruling’s release was a fitting time to compile this book. Having been actively appraising privately held businesses for over 25 of the 50 years since the Ruling’s issuance, we find ourselves often returning to the Ruling, whether for guidance in novel situations or simply to confirm some intuition. In short, it is a trusted companion.
To review the chapter list, keep reading.
Just because some of the new books (Buy-Sell Agreements: Ticking Time Bombs or Reasonable Resolutions?) are falling apart, doesn't mean we're still not marketing! (We're just not selling them right now. The new non-defective books should be here today or early next week - I hope! If you have no idea what I'm talking about, see here.)
Radio Days - If you're interested, tune into the Heartland Business Roundtable radio show tomorrow (Saturday, March 17 at 10:00AM CST) via the internet (streaming at www.kxtr.com) to hear an interview that Steve Johns (of Value Added Mentoring) did with Chris Mercer, our CEO, about the new book, Buy-Sell Agreements: Ticking Time Bombs or Reasonable Resolutions?.
Viral Internet - Professor Bainbridge likes the book ("I recommend it very highly." - emphasis his). Given that Professor B likes the book, another blogger picked it up. We've sent the book to two other influential bloggers hoping they'll read it, like it, and blog about it. Only one problem - they received books from the pool that was defective. It's always something.
Our latest foray into self-publishing has hit a snag.
My book "exploded" and the pages went all over the floor. I picked them up, sorted them, and put them back in order-I think. I am now afraid to use the book, because I do not want to have to do that again. I would really like to get a new book.
I left the book on my desk with the first 10 or 20 pages turned back to mark my place. When I came into the office in the morning, the first 10 or 20 pages had separated from the binding.
My first reading was through page 17; the title page through page 4 came loose. Pages 170-176 have already fallen out.In my book, the outside cover has come away from the spine a little bit and a few pages “look” like they could come loose.
... the book (which I think is excellent) is unfortunately falling apart!
However, the positive news is this is what we're hearing about the content:
... the book itself is terrific - sophisticated, refreshingly thoughtful and the first really new ideas (to me, anyway) in this area I've heard or seen in a long time.
So what do you do when you find out that books you are self-publishing and selling are falling apart in the hands of readers? Well ...
I'm back. Hopefully somebody missed me. I missed you, dear readers. I was away not because I'm a slacker (although I felt like slacking many times) or because I had run out of things to say (this is a blog which, unfortunately, by it's very nature tends toward vapid discourse so why should that stop me?).
I was away because I was too busy to be here which I know is a mortal sin in the blogosphere, however, please forgive me because I was working on the printed word in another form - I was bringing a printed book to life (that's it over there to your left designed in-house by our very talented Matt Washburn).
Now that sounds more interesting (and a bit more dramatic) than it was/is. And, no, I didn't write the book. Our CEO, Chris Mercer, wrote the book and did it quite well - using his blog (www.merceronvalue.com), by the way, as a drafting tool.
The title of the book is Buy-Sell Agreements: Ticking Time Bombs or Reasonable Resolutions?.
While that may not sound like a page-turner to some of you, it's a very readable and useful book (350+ pages) and of interest to many more people than an average reader of this blog might think.
This is a self-published book that we have been working on for over a year. Several folks here provided review and editing. When I picked up the manuscript in November thinking that we were almost done, I discovered that it still needed quite a bit of editing. We had to get it to market by the end of 2006 and if I didn't stop everything I was doing right before Thanksgiving and work almost exclusively on the book, it wouldn't have happened. I won't go into all the details here. I will share those with you in a future post.
I will say, however, that this book was our first experience with print-on-demand. I'll share the advantages and disadvantages of this technology in a day or so.
In the meantime, if you want to purchase the book, it's only $79 - a steal!