#LMA15 Recap: "Seller Beware"

May 05, 2015 Alex Castillo

A few weeks ago, a bunch of us from One North were forced to make the trip out west to San Diego for the LMA Annual Conference. Besides killer fish tacos, perfect weather, constant sun and ocean access, the city doesn’t have much to offer. Yes, I’m laying the sarcasm on thick.

The event was packed with content and networking, but my favorite thought-nugget of the week came from the keynote, given by Dan Pink. Pink is a thought leader in the area of business, work and behavior – as well as a great speaker.

Pink’s keynote was built around the fact that we have transitioned from a “buyer beware” world to a new reality of “seller beware.” The buying experience 20 years ago looked something like getting in your car, driving to the store and choosing from the options in front of you. How do we purchase today? We tap into all of our networks and start researching. We look at Yelp for restaurant reviews; we check TripAdvisor for the best hotel; we go to Glassdoor to check salaries; we rely on Amazon for product reviews; we tap our network on LinkedIn for career or business advice, referrals and opportunities; we seek input on Facebook and Twitter…and, when we are good and ready, a decision is made.

This probably isn’t ground-breaking. We’ve all lived in this “seller beware” world for a while now and know that information is everywhere and immediately accessible. I can almost guarantee that your clients have done the same thing before choosing to do business with you. They asked their colleagues about you, checked out your website and looked your team up on LinkedIn. All before meeting you for the first time. So what do we do about it?

Pink suggested takeaways from 3 key principles. For the purposes of this post, I want to focus on two of the principles and offer some ideas for how these principles might transfer to your digital presence.

Principle #1 – Attunement
Get out of your own head and see things from others’ perspective.
Using analytics is a simple and non-intrusive way to listen to your audience. If you don’t currently use Google Analytics or another platform, start! Start tracking user paths, bounce rates, top viewed pages, browser and device usage, all of those good stats. There is a goldmine of data to be tapped. The best news here may be that Google provides a plethora of training information. Here are a few sources:

Allow your audience to talk back.
Maybe this means changing up your Contact Us form to make it more accessible, purposeful and easier to use. Maybe this means asking your current and prospective clients what they like and don’t like about your digital marketing efforts. Whatever method(s) you use, don’t be afraid of feedback. Yes, you will receive some pretty bad ideas, but it’s within your power to choose the best next steps.

Principle #2 – Clarity
Shift from information access to information curation.
Make it easy to act. We all know the feeling of information overload. There are so many news sources out there. You better believe that your clients feel the same way. What if you aggregated the past week’s most relevant content and sent it to your clients at the beginning of the next week? What if this content was tailored to their area of business, and it was presented in a clean, digestible format? I’m not saying this is a trivial effort, but I bet it would be impactful and leave a lasting impression.

A Little Combination of Principle #1 and #2
Be transparent and authentic. Tell your audience about your firm or company’s culture and purpose instead of forcing them to find out elsewhere. We’ve already established that they can easily get that information elsewhere. Try posting more videos and testimonials that talk about your culture. Focus on what it’s like to work there, what it’s like to work with you, what it’s like when someone becomes an alum. There is nothing more engaging than being able to experience the culture of a place through the testimonial of others. Take a look at Debevoise’s Careers section for a great example of this.

Finally, it’s important to not become too overwhelmed by this new “Seller Beware” reality we are in. Embrace it and start chipping away at change. Take on just a few initiatives at a time, and continue exploring what’s out there for ideas and inspiration.

Interested in reading what else we learned at #LMA15? Check out recaps by Zack and Tanya from the event.


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Alex Castillo Director, Client Services

At the time of publishing, Alex was Director of Client Services at One North.

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