The e-mail question is:
"To what extent can you substitute emails for telephone calls and face-to-face meetings when maintaining and developing relationships with clients and other key market contacts?”
My answer: You can’t. Period.
W-E-L-L, maybe that is a bit strong.
It is no secret that I hate e-mail. It doesn’t mean that I don’t use it like everyone else every day. But, I still hate it, because it has become an annoying and too frequent intrusion into my personal and business life. Moreover, too much of it is spam (yes, I have anti-spam software), unsolicited e-newsletters, or jokes and political commentary – even from people I know – that is unwelcome. Enough already!
I do see the effectiveness of welcomed e-mails in handling a client’s matter (assuming, of course, that it is a client’s approved means of communication) and otherwise conducting operational business functions. It undoubtedly can be efficient and effective when used properly and when it isn’t intrusive.
However, when it is used as a tool in business development and relationship building, it is the least effective in my opinion, particularly in the case of law firms. We are in the personal services business, and there is nothing more impersonal and overused than email. Partially because it so easy to shoot off an e-mail, without much thought, some may think that any contact is better than nothing. I would respectfully disagree.
The best and most successful marketing is face-to-face. Yes, it is more expensive and time consuming, but clearly more effective. Telephone calls would come next out of the three in terms of effectiveness, and e-mail is dead last. If the other two are used often, then an occasional meaningful use of email may be okay, if a relationship has already been well established. But clearly it is the absolute last and least meaningful choice for business development, IMHO.
Unfortunately, what costs more and takes longer is often the more effective when it comes to marketing activities, but that is just the way it is. What is easy and cheap generally produces the least successful outcome.
So, the ultimate question is: How effective do you want your marketing efforts to be?
Check out the other viewpoints at:
· Brian Carroll, specialist and noted author of generating leads for the complex sale;
· Mark Buckshon, prodigious blogger and specialist on marketing and selling design and construction services; and
· Ford Harding, student of selling professional services.