While the east coast is buried in another snowstorm, I am in sunny Naples, Florida today to speak at the Marketing Partner Forum. Full disclosure: It was a bit chilly, so I had to stop and buy a light jacket to handle the temps that fell into the 50’s and will dip into the 40’s tonight, so I won’t be surfing these waves.

All kidding aside, I enjoy coming to these conferences mainly because it exposes me to people, ideas, and practices that are outside of my normal routine. In return, I expose the attendees and fellow presenters with ideas and practices that are outside of their normal routine. So it is a mutual benefit (at least I think so.)

Today I am speaking on the concepts of data found inside and outside of firms that help develop Business Development/Business Intelligence/Competitive Intelligence programs. It’s something that I’ve been talking about for nearly ten years, and you’d think that I’d run out of things to say or learn. However, it is usually quite the opposite. In crowds like I’ll face this afternoon, there will be folks that will seriously question my ideas. There will be people that have failed where others have succeeded, and there will be people that succeeded where everyone else has failed. It is a somewhat cathartic process for both the speakers and the audience.

One of the things that I’ve been thinking about lately, and will discuss in the talk today, is the idea of telling others to stop thinking of what we do as educating the attorneys about business development, or client risk exposures, or industry trends, and start thinking of ways to instruct the attorneys to make money off of the information placed in front of him or her. I imagine that this is not a new concept to Marketing and Biz Dev folks, but I think there is room to grow in creating a process where everyone along the assembly line of BD/BI/CI understands what the end goals are of the process, and what role they play in actually creating a chance to bring in new revenue into the firm.

Too much of the time, we think of presenting the information in a way to educate the attorney. We throw out the phrase “actionable intelligence” when we present the information, but are we limiting the actual meaning of that phase to merely educating the attorney rather than directing the attorney? Have we become some type of quasi-CLE provider? Perhaps we could rename our group to Continuing Business Education, or Continuing Client Education, and be honest in what we are actually doing.

When you are discussing a business opportunity with an attorney, be prepared to answer the following question: “How do we monetize this idea?”

If that is what we are attempting to do with BD/BI/CI, then that needs to be known throughout the whole process. Every step along the way, from concept, to research, to engineering, to technology application, to analysis, to final product… how will this drive business and bring more money in the door? When you move it away from education and into revenue generation, it can help identify what is and what is not business driving concepts.

I look forward to the audience blowing holes in my ideas this afternoon. At least I can then walk away with an idea for a follow up blog post.