Last week I was in Texas for the Legal Marketing Association‘s annual conference.

Like any conference, there were some knock-it-out-of-the-ballpark wins (keynote speaker James Kane) and there were some strike-outs.

In talking about one of the sessions that did not go as well as Jim’s, a colleague, who is a consultant to lawyers and law firms, shared:

It’s not okay to suck. Suck less.

That really resonated with me.

But, like most truths, it was followed up by a slap upside my head to make certain that I got the point:

If you, as an in-house person suck, whatever. But if I suck, my kids don’t eat.

It got me thinking. How many times have I, or one of my attorneys, rushed to get that presentation done? How many times have I waited to the last minute to do X or Y?

I’m an in-house marketing director. When I speak at a conference or event to attorneys, or fellow legal marketers, I am not there showing off my wares, balancing offering helpful information and hoping to land some work. I’m there for fun and for free. I’m there to lend a hand.

But that is not fair to the audience or the conference organizers. And it is doing NOTHING for my personal reputation.

I believe the reason that I am still fixated on Jim Kane’s presentation is that I can SEE the time and effort he put into it, and I am so impressed and appreciative of that effort.

Yeah, there were canned parts, which he delivered quite well, but at the end he 100% tailored the presentation to the audience. Not just legal marketers as a whole, but individuals in the audience including Laura Gutierrez, Mark Beese and others.

Jim got a hold of the attendee list and started Googling us. He included us in his closing slides. When he met and shook hands with us he remembered little factoids about who were were, whether or not we were in his closing slides.

Notice I keep saying “we.” Although Jim did not personally reference me, or my stellar job of selling Girl Scout cookies (thanks to everyone who bought some), I felt included because he included people I knew.

He took the time to get it right. And, as an extra “WOW,” please download the loyalty workbook he created for us.

So what to do WE do with this new truth?

Next time you are asked to speak, or meet with a potential new client, or are headed off to the beauty contest, don’t wait until the last minute.  Don’t just update your last presentation and materials. Don’t read the dossier in cab. Don’t wing it.

Do you research. Understand your audience. Take the time and effort that the people in the audience or in the meeting deserve.

Don’t just go through the motions.

Get it right. Knock it out of the ballpark. And, please, don’t suck.