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Why doesn’t McKinsey, the most prestigious consulting firm in the world, advertise during the Super Bowl?
They have the budget.
They have the resources.
And advertising during the Super Bowl would certainly get the attention of millions of people.
But advertising their consulting services through 30-second commercials wouldn’t help them reach their potential clients — and it most certainly wouldn’t help their potential clients get to know them, like them, and trust them.
Advertising is known as interruption-based marketing. It can certainly work if you’re selling a widget, a product, or a movie.
But it’s not as effective when you’re selling your expertise and yourself — for which you’ll need your prospect’s permission before you’re able to market to them effectively.
The good thing for you, the consultant or small firm, is this:
Marketing for consultants is largely a solved game.
There is room for creativity, but the best marketing methods for consultants are well known.
In this article, I’m going to take the 5 “Marketing Musts” for consultants (courtesy of David A. Fields and his book ‘The Irresistible Consultants Guide to Winning Clients‘) and explain to you their “digital equivalencies.”
If you’re going to market your consulting business online, you want to do it in a way that works.
And as B2B decision makers start to use your website and your digital presence to make hiring decisions, you can influence their decisions by marketing your business in a way that gets them to know you, like you, and trust you.
What works offline works online.
By the end of this article, you will…
• Understand the 5 marketing methods you need to market your consulting business online
• Know why these methods work — and why other methods don’t
• Have an action plan for implementing an effective digital marketing strategy for your consulting business
Not all marketing methods are made equal.
Especially for consultants.
As a consultant, YOU are a part of what you sell.
A business owner selling fishing hooks isn’t a part of the sale. Sure, their brand is important, but they themselves don’t need to sell themselves — they are focused on selling their product.
They need their customers to KNOW THEM — the “like” and “trust” aren’t as important if they want to make more sales. They’re selling a $4 dollar product.
But as a consultant, your prospects must like you and trust you before their comfortable with hiring you for your expertise (and you — figuratively, of course).
Digital Marketing for Consultants: The 5 Key Methods
Using David Field’s “Marketing Musts,” I’m going to explain how you can take what works offline for consultants — and turn that into what works online.
Writing content that helps your prospects become aware of your problems, and educates them on how to solve these problems, is content marketing: which can help position you as the expert and trusted advisor before the first sales call.
The marketing power of writing is undeniable. It’s easier to reach a large audience (i.e., get exposure) with writing than with speaking, networking, or working with trade associations. And with the help of your digital presence (the fourth Marketing Must), you can get your name and message in front of thousands of prospects within a couple of days.
Offline, this would mean writing…
• traditional books
• articles for print magazines
• white papers, etc.
Online, this means writing…
• writing on your own website
• writing on other websites (Medium, guest posting, etc)
• writing on social media (LinkedIn, Quora)
If you’re a consultant, you’re probably already familiar with writing. Writing is one of the easiest ways to get your message in front of your prospects, and it can be done for free online. In order to market yourself through your writing, you want to host writing on your own website to make it a destination point for your clients — and write on other websites that your audience reads so that you can make yourself known to them.
Speaking refers to speeches, talks, keynotes, and presentations given to an audience of industry peers, journalists, and potential clients. With speaking, your goal is to educate this audience on your expertise and the business outcomes of your expertise.
Speaking in front of an audience is the fastest, most reliable path to winning new business, provided you have the right speaking gig. Standing on an apple crate in the middle of Times Square may garner you plenty of exposure, but you’re not likely to win a client. On the other hand, when you’re in front of a room full of high-potential prospects, speaking is an express train to revenue growth
Offline, this would mean speaking…
• At conferences
• Through your hosted presentations
• At workshops and other business events
Online, this would mean…
• Speaking on podcasts and web conferences
• Hosting your own podcast
• Providing webinars, live Q&As, and video presentions
Speaking, even when done online, has a powerful effect on your prospects — they are seeing and hearing you demonstrate your expertise (as opposed to just reading it). When creating digital presentations and audio recordings, think about using your material as if you were giving each of your prospects a one-on-one presentation.
Trade associations are an organization funded by businesses in a certain industry. They aid collaboration between these companies and offer other services as well: trade shows, publications, charitable events, educational classes, and more.
I’ve seen more consultants generate clients through active, trade association participation than any other marketing approach. Plus, focusing on trade associations is easy to do and complements your efforts in writing, speaking, networking, and increasing your digital presence.
Offline, this would mean…
• Joining an industry trade association
• Attending trade shows and events within the association
• Doing work or volunteering for the association
Online, trade associations consist of…
• Joining a trade association with a membership website
• Being active in the online events put on by the association
• Using the network to provide value to the organization
Most trade associations have active websites that give members various ways to interact with each other. To leverage trade associations to market your business online, you want to provide value to the members of the group, and the group itself.
They don’t say “consulting is relationship business” because it sounds good — it’s true to the core.
The fact is, you can win consulting business without marketing, without optimizing your impact, without knowing how to put together a compelling proposal, or without pricing your project well. But you can’t win without relationships. No executive is going to hand you $2.5 million or $250,000 or even $25,000 without having some sort of one-on-one relationship with you. That’s why I’ll say it again: relationships are everything.
Offline, this would mean…
• attending networking events
• attending local hot-spots
• grabbing coffee with clients and colleagues
Online, networking consists of…
• Reaching out to potential clients via direct outreach
• Keeping your existing clients up to date through email segmentation
• Using social media to connect with other consultants and industry peers
With “digital” Networking, you’re using your digital tools to stay on top of current relationships and building new ones. LinkedIn, Twitter, your email list, and your email software all examples of digital tools that help you develop and maintain your relationships.
Helping consultants leverage their digital presence in order to attract and develop new business online is the entire focus of my business.
Only five years ago, I would have told you not to spend more than a few minutes worrying about your digital presence. Consulting is, after all, a personal, relationship-driven business and Sereus Dough, Inc. will hire you because Yuri Yusimi knows you, not because they found you on the business equivalent of a dating site.
Boy, have times changed. Dialing up your digital presence is an absolute must in your plan to build a bigger or more profitable consulting practice.
The specific methods, techniques, and system that consultants and small firms are covered by every other article on my website.
You can find those here:
- The Ultimate Guide to Consulting Website Design
- Consulting Website Design [Video Series]
- 64 Proven Ways Consultants Generate Leads Online
Your Digital Presence is only as effective as the work you put into it. It’s not the most immediate investment, but over time, it will grow into a primary source of business for you. The key is to stay consistent with it, building it up content by content.
Do’s and Dont’s
DO: Commit to doing each of these daily
Whether you are drowned in project work or are searching for your next engagement, you must commit to doing these tasks on a daily basis if you want to create a lead-generating asset in your digital presence.
Here are some examples of how your “marketing habits” may look:
- Writing: Write 250 Words
Write 250 words for an article that goes up on your website. This means your producing two 2500 word blog posts a month. That’s plenty to not only provide your potential clients with tremendous value but to also start ranking organically in search engines.
- Speaking: Record 5 Minutes
Pick a topic (a question, something you’re working on with a client, a problem that you come across a lot, etc), and on your smartphone, simply hit record and talk about this topic for 5 minutes. This can become content for your podcast, transcribed for an article, or something you send prospects on your email list.
- Trade Associations: Direct Outreach
Reach out to someone in the trade association directly in order to build a relationship. Since you’re in the same group, it should be easier to get a response. Reach out to them and tell them that you’re interested in their line of work and that you’d like to learn more about what they do. That’s the easiest way to get a response, build rapport, and further develop a relationship. It can also be a key person within the organization so that you can inquire about taking on some more responsibility for the association.
- Digital Presence: Self Promote
Promote some of your content online. This can take many forms: sharing a link to your content on LinkedIn, writing an email to your email list, reaching out to someone who you’d like to link to one of your posts, etc. The key here is to think about actively promoting your content so you can gain more relevant traffic.
- Networking: Network Tap
A “Network Tap” is an action taken where you are “tapping” into your network. You’re actively reaching out to a previous client or a colleague to inquire about how they are doing, and what they are working on currently. Network Taps allow you to stay on top of your relationships.
DO: Automate and outsource (what you can)
Committing to writing, speaking, networking, and working within trade associations is a lot to ask for when it comes to marketing your consulting business.
The beauty of digital marketing is that once you have created your thought-leadership, you can automate and outsource the logistics of getting your work out there.
If you’re working hard to publish an article twice a week, have someone set that up for you on WordPress and share that through your LinkedIn page.
If you’re recording your speaking engagements, have someone publish them to your website, transcribe them, and share them with your audience.
Get the most out of your content using a mixture of automation and outsourcing. You’ve created the material, now use tools and other people to help spread the word.
DON’T: Focus only on immediate results
Focusing on Networking methods (like an outbound sales campaign) will give you more immediate results than writing thought-leadership for your article.
It’s going to generate more sales conversations with buyers right away. But that doesn’t mean that you should (or can) focus only on the methods that generate the fastest results.
If you don’t focus on the longer-term methods (Writing, Digital Presence), then you’ll never create agents of thought-leadership that market your business and position you as an industry expert. You’ll be stuck on using networking, referrals, and outbound sales forever.
Resist the urge to focus only on what helps you bill immediately. Understand the delayed gratification to writing and upgrading your digital presence so that you won’t have to rely on referrals our outbound sales down the line.
The next time you’re looking for client work and you must market your business, use the framework above to build your marketing strategy.
Start with what works, using a mixture of Writing, Speaking, Trade Associations, and Networking to find your next leads. And when it comes to your Digital Presence, employ the “digital equivalencies” of Writing, Speaking, Trade Associations, and Networking.
Stray from the 5 Marketing Musts at your peril. You may find some techniques and tactics that work, but the marketing musts remove a lot of the guesswork.
They may not be easy, but when you do them consistently (and you have a Lead-Generating Website), they work.
What are some of the marketing musts for your business?
Leave a comment in the thread below.