“It sounds simplistic, but in every way, be relevant. Striving for relevance hits all of the touch points of personal branding,” he told a group of about 30 PR practitioners attending last month’s IPRA luncheon in Tysons Corner.
The veteran D.C. marketer is the principal of London, Ink, a firm he started in 1995 to help companies solve business challenges through effective marketing and communications strategies. He often steps in as a “virtual vice president of marketing” to provide interim leadership and execution.
As far as staying relevant, London offered three prescriptions for PR practitioners:
- Figure out what you’re great at and make it your brand specialty.
- Listen to your clients so you can address their “elevator rants.”
- Market yourself through LinkedIn and other social media.
London observed that most PR and marketing people are good at many things, but they are great at only a few. “What engages you the most?” he asked. “What excites you and makes you want to go to work? And what kind of work or client do you dread?”
He noted that we often pride ourselves in being generalists—able to do everything and anything for a client—but in reality we should be focusing on what we do best. “There is great power in being specific. You have a much better chance of succeeding. Find your sweet spot and develop that.”
A few years ago, London took it upon himself to visit clients and old associates to ask them what they thought his strengths were. “I was hurt that some things weren’t mentioned, but that exercise taught me a lot. It helped me refocus my business. Now, every summer I reevaluate what I’m doing.”
London recommended Michael Port’s book, “Book Yourself Solid,” which suggests that entrepreneurs spend more time with the clients they love working with and dump those “dud” clients who frustrate and drain them. “I’m not saying that you should just dump all of your clients overnight,” London said, “but gradually you do need to weed out the duds.”
London is also big believer in listening. “Every client has an ‘elevator rant,’” he noted. “This is what keeps them up at night. It’s the thing they would tell you in the space of an elevator ride that is really bothering them. You have to be able address those rants if you want to succeed.”
London has been able to create added value by translating his clients’ rants into marketing solutions. “Once you’ve talked to customers and better understand their concerns,” he said, “questions about strategy, message and channels just fall into place. It has taken my services to a whole new level.”
London also spoke of the need for solo practitioners to constantly market themselves. “I probably devote 20 to 30 percent of my waking hours to networking,” he confided. His favorite social media tool is LinkedIn. “I can’t say enough good things about it,” he said. “If you have a specific service to offer, I would suggest trying LinkedIn ads.”
London also uses other social media and his blog to get his name out there, and he said he has had success with his weekly “Drivetime Marketing” video series posted on YouTube.