The 4 Levels of Consulting Website Design (And How To “Level Up”)

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The most common thing that consultants and small firms say to me is that they’ve never generated a single bit of interest through their consulting website.

Here’s what consultants are telling me about their websites:

  • “You hit my major problem with talking about how referrals are great, but they are really feast or famine. I really want to learn how to use my website to get more business.”
  • “I can completely see that my website is not generating leads and so would like to shift more focus into improving this and really turning my website into a useful tool as opposed to a “tick the box”
  • “My website was built hastily just to be more of a brochure, but I want a consulting website that helps generate leads by talking about the needs of my prospects.”

How can consultants use their website to generate more leads?

This is the burning question — the big problem — that I work on solving every day.

And I’ve come to realize this:

There are different levels of consulting websites. And you cannot move to the next level without understanding the level that you’re currently at.

After analyzing thousands of consulting websites, I’ve observed 4 “levels” of consulting websites and consulting website design.

The 4 levels are as follows:

  • Level 1: No Consulting Website
  • Level 2: Brochure Consulting Website
  • “The Gap”
  • Level 3: Lead-Generating Website
  • Level 4: Digital Marketing & Sales Pipeline

Once you understand the 4 levels of consulting website design, it will be much easier for you to identify where you’re at, why, and most importantly, how you can “level up” and take your consulting website (and consulting business) to the next level.

By the end of this article, you will…

  • Understand the 4 levels of consulting websites and learn which level you are at
  • Have multiple examples of consulting websites at each level
  • Learn 10 action steps for taking your consulting website (and business) to the level

Here are the 4 levels of consulting websites with examples and action steps for taking your consulting website to the next level.

Level 1: No Consulting Website

At level 1, you don’t have a consulting website.

You don’t have the budget to hire a professional to do it for you, and you don’t have the time and experience to do it yourself.

Consultants at Level 1 often don’t believe it’s possible to generate leads and win new business online, and thus, refuse to dedicate a budget towards a consulting website (even if it’s a simple one) or the time to create a one themselves.

If you’re reading this article and you’re at Level 1, then I’m not going to try and convince you of the value of a Level 3 and Level 4 consulting website. You can download my free, high-converting consultant homepage template and use that.

But if you’re happy with your ability to generate new business without using your website or your digital presence, then you may not need to invest in a consulting website in the first place.

If you’re a new consultant and you want to learn how you can develop a lead-generating website, but you don’t have the time, resources, and connections to find the right provider, scroll down and read the action steps for “The Gap.”

If you don’t have a consulting website, you should be skipping level 2 entirely.

Level 2: Brochure Consulting Website

At level 2, you have a simple brochure-style consulting website.

With a brochure website, your website mostly “you-focused.” It talks about you, your firm, your experience, your services, and then has a simple contact form.

About 9/10 of consultants at this stage tell me that they’ve never generated a single inquiry through their website. And I’d estimate that 80-95% of management consultants and small firms are at this very level.

I believe this level is so common because this is the best most creative agencies (with no expertise in how you can market your consulting services online) can do for you.

At best, they will make you a pretty brochure-style website — and then they’re on to making their next pretty website.

In consulting, you are lucky to generate any leads with a brochure-style website.

Examples of Level 2 consulting websites:

“The Gap”

Going from level 2 to level 3 is perhaps the most important jump in your consulting business.

It’s also the most difficult.

“The Gap” describes the area between level 2 to level 3 — an area where many consultants fall short.

Inside of The Gap, you are aware that you can indeed generate leads and consulting business online, and you want to start doing it, but you don’t know how.

When reviewing your options for potential service providers, you don’t find anyone who you feel understands how you, the consultant or small firm, can successfully market and sell your services online.

The Gap is characterized by the following:

  • Struggling to define your ideal client or target vertical
  • Struggling with your copywriting and marketing strategy
  • Lack of time to write and produce content and attract prospects to your website
  • Lack of a digital marketing system and marketing habits that help you stabilize your marketing
  • Lack of technical experience to set up all of the “nuts and bolts” that make up a Level 3 Consulting website
  • A general fear of pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone — promoting your content, speaking on podcasts, recording video, creating strategic partnerships, etc.

Helping consultants transgress The Gap is one of the biggest problems I aim to solve in my business. Here’s how I’ve helped consultants do it so far:

Action steps for bridging The Gap to Level 3:

Level 3: Lead-Generating Consulting Website

At level 3, you are now generating leads through your consulting website.

Every month, you are scheduling consultations with at least 2 prospective clients directly as a result of your website.

At this stage, you’ve committed to creating thought-leadership content, using your website and digital presence to host that content, and have developed the daily marketing habits for promoting that content and getting it in front of your intended audience.

With a level 3 consulting website, a lot of the “marketing burden” is lifted from your shoulders.

Now that it’s generating leads and conversations with buyers, you are satisfied with your website, you’re proud to share it with the world, and you’re motivated to share more of what you know through your digital presence.

Examples of Level 3 consulting websites:

Level 4: Digital Marketing Funnel

At level 4, your consulting website is now a piece of a larger marketing funnel.

Not only are you predictably generating leads and conversations with buyers through your website and digital presence, but your consulting website is now more than a marketing tool.

At this level, your consulting website is the focal point of your marketing and sales process. It’s your business’ most important asset.

At level 4, your website hosts all of your thought-leadership, attracts at least 5000 visitors per month, qualifies your leads, gathers answers from your leads that you’ll use throughout your sales conversations, nurtures your leads using marketing automation, and schedules all of your consultations for you.

This is a small example of what a level 4 consulting website is capable of.

At level 4, you may also be hosting a podcast, be investing in SEO, have integrated eCommerce for selling products or productized consulting offers, etc.

Going from level 2 to level 3 contains a very clear set of steps, but the going from level 3 to level 4 can be an endless transition. There are an infinite number of ways you can continue to tweak and optimize your consulting website.

What separates a level 3 and level 4 website is that every pixel, word, and page of your website is carefully planned out to fit into your marketing and sales process. It’s more than a lead-generating machine — it’s a marketing and sales machine.

If a level 3 website job is to simply generate leads, a level 4 consulting websites job is to acquire leads, qualify them, nurture them, and schedule the consultation with you — and by the time they are ready to speak with you, they see you as the expert practitioner, making your job on selling them much, much easier.

Until you are at level 3 (gaining at least 2 leads per month from your consulting website for 3 months in a row), trying to progress to level 4 is not worth the effort. Focus on developing the marketing habits that will allow you to get to a level 3 consulting website where your website becomes a central piece of your marketing puzzle.

Action steps for getting to Level 4:

  • Implement a qualification/intake form instead of a general contact form with questions that will provide the answers you’ll use throughout your sales conversations with the client
  • Segment your email list based on Scott Oldford’s SSF Method: Create a “Sidewalk,” “Slowlane,” and “Fastlane” for your email marketing funnel, and a final segment for your previous clients and customers
  • Using Google Analytics, identify your top 3-5 performing blog articles, and create a lead-magnet content upgrade for each post
  • Launch your podcast by recording a first “About Me” episode, and then invite 3-5 of your dream guests on the show
  • Implement automation into your digital marketing tasks
  • Create the first two products/services of your value ladder
  • Install eCommerce on your website to help you sell the first two products/services of your value ladder

Examples of Level 4 consulting websites:

A fifth level?

I’ve also noticed a fifth level where you transition from selling consulting services into becoming a fully scaled, productized business where you either sell training or you train other practitioners with your methodology and have them do the consulting for you.

Examples:

However, this is beyond the scope of my expertise. More on this in a later article.

Action Step

Now that you’re aware of the 4 levels of consultant websites, it’s time to figure out where you are.

Use the action steps for getting to the next level.

If you’re feeling stuck at the current level you’re at, reach out to me at my contact page and schedule a free consultation.