Friday Fusion: June 12, 2020

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Every week, I write about web design, copywriting, and digital marketing for independent consultants and small firms. Friday Fusion is a collection of said writing from Quora, LinkedIn, and email conversations with consultants. You can follow me on Quora here, connect with me on LinkedIn here, and email me here.

Do management consulting firms ever recycle solutions for multiple clients?

Yes — and they should.

Your job as a consultant is to solve the client’s problem.

Imagine you’re working with a new client. They are struggling with employee retention at their company.

You’ve done 7 projects in the past solving the same problem: improving employee retention.

Your client doesn’t care about how you improve their employee retention problem. They just want to keep their employees. That’s why they hire you.

The fact that you’ve done similar projects is attractive to your new clients. This repetition has helped you develop expertise.

This expertise helps all your future clients with the same problem mitigate risk by hiring you.

In fact, sometimes consulting firms package, market, and sell these recycled solutions for new clients.

This is Productized Consulting.

With productized consulting, you’re upfront about the fact that you use recycled solutions.

You say:

“I’ve solved your problem many times before. I can use the exact steps I used to solve the problem for you. The cost is $XXXX, and the outcome will be [INSERT OUTCOME] for your business. ”

Example: Custom UI Audit by UI Breakfast

To recycle solutions, you have to solve similar problems.

To solve similar problems, you have to work with similar types of clients.

By working with similar types of clients, you develop expertise.

Recycled solutions that work are a product of your expertise.

You’d be a fool not to leverage this expertise. And once you develop this expertise, your clients want you to recycle solutions — so you can solve their problem based on what’s worked before.

Remember: clients don’t care about how you solve their problem. They just want their problem solved.

If you can solve it faster and cheaper using a recycled solution, then tell them. They’ll be thrilled you did.

How has content marketing helped your business?

Content marketing is my business.

Take a look at my website’s Google Analytics below:

84% of my website traffic is organic.

The vast majority of my traffic — and customers — are a result of my content.

My content has replaced sales: direct outreach, cold emailing, and cold calling.

Writing is a way to scale the conversations you have in person.

—Sahil Lavingia, CEO & Gumroad

Here’s my procedure for writing content that generates traffics and creates customers:

  1. Use Ahrefs to determine the keywords, phrases, and questions my prospects are typing into Google.
  2. Write the best article on that topic.
  3. Do on-page SEO for the article.
  4. Promote the article (shared it on LinkedIn, Twitter, my email list, my network — and ask the people in my network to share, too).
  5. Build links to the article (build relationships with people who own websites that serve the same audience — and then ask them to link to my content).

Rinse and repeat.

If you can do all 5 of these steps, you can generate tens of thousands (or more) of highly-targeted traffic to your website — using nothing but words on your website.

It’s not easy. To do content marketing effectively, you must know:

  • Market Research: understanding your audience — their pains, problems, dreams, and desires
  • Writing: how to communicate using the written word, keeping readers engaged and giving them that “aha” moment
  • SEO: on-page and off-page strategies to make your content rank highly
  • Marketing: how to promote your business and your content to attract the right people to your content
  • Web Design: making your content (and entire website) well-designed so that people take you seriously

You don’t have to master all of these skills.

But, you have to be good enough at all of them so your content marketing can work.

Content marketing is hard. It’s a long-term strategy.

But there is nothing better than opening a blank page, writing content, sharing it — and generating traffic and sales.

Accountants build spreadsheets. Programmers build software. Writers build content.

What is the difference between a consultant and a freelancer?

A consultant advises on the work, and a freelancer implements the work.

Jonathan’s Starks “Altitude of Involvement” illustrates the difference perfectly:

The “Strategy” row defines consulting:

  • High impact on the client’s business
  • Their role is to map a new status quo
  • They advise, design, and plan
  • Their typical pricing structure is fixed (or value-based)

The “Implementation” and “Maintenance” rows define what freelancers do.

  • Medium or low impact on the client’s business
  • Their role is to create or preserve the status quo
  • They build, implement, launch, fix, repair, and respond
  • Their typical pricing structure is fixed or hourly

Sometimes, a consultant also implements the work.

And sometimes, a freelancer advises on the work.

But most freelancers don’t understand the difference, and they provide their advice for free.

If you are a freelancer, and you are advising your client on the work (and not just implementing it), you are consulting.

Charge more for doing this. Your advice and expertise are worth more than your implementation work.

When you are comfortable charging for your advice — and your clients pay you for it — you have evolved into a consultant.

What are the tools you use to identify a niche market?

NAICS & SIC Identification Tools is very helpful for identifying niche markets. It breaks down business types by industry, helping you see how many businesses exist within that category.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator’s Advanced Search is another invaluable tool for identifying niche markets. You can build a specific search, showing you how many contacts exist in a particular market — and then you can reach out to them directly.

But the most important “tool” for identifying niche markets is your ability to pay attention.

Identifying a niche to serve in your business is all about paying attention to…

  • The pains, problems, desires, dreams, frustrations, and objections of your potential niche
  • The patterns you see emerging within your potential niche
  • How much your potential niche resonates with you — and feeling if you’re passionate about solving their problem

Selecting a niche to serve is a critical step when starting a business.

Tools like NAICS and LinkedIn Sales Navigator will help you see what niches exist.

But niche selection is ultimately your choice. You’ll feel when a niche is right. It will be a niche that you can’t help but want to serve.