PART ONE: HOW YOUR CONSULTING WEBSITE WILL REVOLUTIONIZE YOUR BUSINESS
Chapter 1: Why Your Consulting Website Matters
CHAPTER FEATURE: DAVID A FIELDS
Why does your consulting website matter now as opposed to 5 or 10 years ago?
Simply stated, the world is becoming ever more online-oriented. Buyers of all stripes—including senior executives hunting for a consultant—search online for information before making a decision. Therefore, you must have an online presence including, at a minimum, a website. By and large, executives expect firms they work with to have a website and if you don’t have one you risk being perceived as amateur. In addition, as millennials rise to more influential positions inside companies, the importance of your website will continue to increase. Today’s 60 year-old CEO expects a website; tomorrow’s 40 year-old millennial CEO will be flabbergasted if you don’t have a website.
What are some of the challenges or problems that an effective consulting website can solve for the consulting business owner?
The purpose of traditional business websites varies. Ecommerce sites are designed to sell (obviously). Consultants’ websites are meant to foster a relationship, convey credibility and induce direct contact. Let’s poke at each of those objectives. Since a consultant’s website is meant to foster a relationship, the focus is on the client, not the consultant. That means the site should not be designed to show off your brilliance; rather it should highlight your understanding of visitors’ needs, ambitions, and concerns. Imagery is, ideally, personal, human and inviting—all relationship oriented. Content on the site reinforces your credibility as a provider of solutions, and virtually the entire site should funnel prospects toward a single action: contacting you to engage in a conversation.
What role does your website play in helping you start and develop your relationships?
The stronger your credentials, repute and network, the less you need a website. Imagine Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, decided to take on a bit of consulting work. Do you think he’d need a website? Of course not. I’ve worked with numerous consultants who built thriving, solo practices without ever having a website because they were highly regarded by a deep pool of decision-makers. A consultant that’s less well-known and isn’t perceived as a giant in his industry needs the website to fill the void left by his light reputation.
It’s hard running your own consulting business. It’s challenging. It’s risky. It’s stressful.
Your consulting website, when written and designed right, will make your life easier. It will make running your business less challenging. Less risky. Less stressful. And far more fun.
Good design — web included — solves your business problems.
Do Consultants Hate Designers?
Ramit Sethi, entrepreneur, said “consultants hate designers.” I think he was implying that most designers focus on making things look pretty. Consultants, on the other hand, are focused on achieving business goals — the “numbers.”
If so, consultants hate the wrong type of designer. You’ll learn more about the professional designer in Chapters 7 and 8. But an effective designer will solve problems in your business. And a good one will make you far more money than you spend.
Below, you’ll find what the data says on the problems consultants face in their business — and how websites and digital marketing are changing the industry.
(You can find the sources for each of these statistics in my article: Inside the Minds of Your Prospects: 37 Critical Digital Marketing Statistics for Consultants)
1. 81% of management consulting firms list attracting & developing new business as their #1 challenge.
Getting new clients is the hardest part of running a consulting business. In comparison, the client work is the easy part. Your consulting website and your marketing should help you attract and develop new business. That’s the whole point of this book.
2. Four out of five prospective buyers will check out your website before doing business with you.
An independent consultant I worked with once told about “swivel-chair” validation: as soon as you’re done meeting with a prospect, they “swivels their chair” back to their monitor to Google you and check out your digital presence.
Your prospects must to do their due-diligence. They want to see how you present yourself online. They want to confirm if you are consistent with who you claim to be. And you can expect them to make judgments — both consciously and subconsciously — about you and your firm based on your website.
3. One-third of professional services buyers have ruled out a firm because of an unimpressive website.
Some buyers will rule out your firm entirely if you have an unimpressive website. And that’s those who admit it.
What is an unimpressive consulting website?
An unimpressive consulting website is poorly designed — but more importantly, it’s all about the firm instead of the client. Consulting websites that don’t provide value and demonstrate expertise are easy to dismiss.
4. 7 out of the 10 most impactful marketing strategies for consultants are directly web related.
Those marketing strategies are…
- Partnership Marketing
- Downloadable, Educational Content
- Speaking Engagements
- Outbound Phone Marketing
- Conferences, Trade Shows, & Networking Events
- Online Advertising
- Email Marketing
Your website is the glue that makes all of these strategies work together. And since prospects are checking you out online, you can use your digital presence to give yourself a powerful impression using these strategies.
5. SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads have a 1.7% close rate.
SEO leads are leads that come to your website via search engines. If you have a top ranked article for “ag product design,” and a prospect arrives on one of your articles after searching for “ag product design,” you have a much higher chance of closing this lead.
Your website helps you create content that answers the questions your prospects are typing into Google. As the one who provides answers, you’re positioning yourself as a trusted adviser. The trusted adviser closes business at a higher rate because they’ve built trust.
A lead-generating consulting website has content that attracts prospects to it — content that builds this trust so you don’t have to do it manually.
6. Only 34% of B2B organizations say they touch base with prospective clients on a monthly basis.
Picking up the phone to nurture your leads takes time. It isn’t scalable. And it can be awkward and uncomfortable. But you still must touch base with your leads if you want to turn them into clients.
Your email list enables you to nurture your leads at scale. You can touch base with hundreds of your best leads in a few minutes. You can send out a new article and give prospects a reason for your follow-up.
Following-up and creating top of mind awareness is key to winning business. And it’s much easier to follow-up and create top of mind awareness through your email list compared to your phone.
7. 96% of B2B small business websites don’t offer guides, white papers, or similar reports on their home pages.
The brochure website is still, unfortunately, far too common. Most consulting websites don’t offer anything valuable. When you offer value on your website, you can exchange value for your prospects name and email address. This creates a lead. And leads create customers — the entire point of your consulting business.
But if it doesn’t offer anything of value, you can’t expect your prospects to reach out. You can’t expect them to come back. And you can’t expect it to do anything for you — except serve as a digital brochure.
These statistics give us a good starting point. Now, let’s shift focus to two of the most common, pressing problems I’ve observed — from firsthand experience and from consultants I’ve spoken to:
The Dreaded Feast-or-Famine Cycle
There is a normal ebb-and-flow of business — and then there is the feast-or-famine cycle. You spend a month scrambling to find your next project. When it comes, you breathe a sigh of relief.
Now that you’re working on a project, you stop marketing your business. Why? Life is good. You’re getting paid. You’re doing the consulting work you want to do.
But as that project comes to a close, you feel that sense of urgency creeping in. It’s that dreaded thought…
“Where is my next project (and paycheck) coming from?”
When that project is finished, you’re in famine mode. It’s time to hunt for any scraps you can get. You drag yourself to networking events, email people you haven’t spoke in to in years for referrals, and make some half-assed updates to your LinkedIn profile. Eventually, something works, and you end up with another project — for the time being.
Rinse and repeat.
Look, I get it. The time you spend marketing can be spent billing. But, if you are stuck in that mindset, you’re trapping yourself in this cycle. You’ll never set aside time to create assets that market your business for you — WHILE you work on projects.
Read that last sentence again.
No, you cannot bill a client while writing an article for your website, putting together a lead-magnet, or creating an email automation sequence. But, in doing these, you’re productizing yourself. Your building that full-time marketer and salesperson that works for you 24/7 into your consulting website.
You cannot charge clients directly for this work. With this marketing work, YOU are the client. You’re dedicating time to work on YOUR business. However, working on your business does lead to sales conversations with prospects. These conversations lead to new projects — work you will charge for.
The Infamous “Impostor” Syndrome
The “impostor syndrome” describes the consultant who feels like an impostor in their business. Despite having the expertise, they feel as if they don’t belong. They feel as if it’s only a matter of time before they’re finally “outed.”
One of the biggest reasons consultants have impostor syndrome is their lack of marketing experience.
Consider this scenario:
Andrew, an independent management consultant, writes his website to talk about all about him. It’s focused on what he does, his skills, and his experience.
When nobody responds to this messaging, he feels inadequate. He feels as though prospects are unimpressed with his qualifications. To him, that’s why all of his marketing attempts fail — he’s just not good enough. All of his work comes through referral, where his colleagues have to put in a good word for him.
Little does he know, it has nothing to do with him. It’s not his lack of skills or experience that’s causing his marketing to fail. It’s his ineffective messaging. His prospects don’t care about him enough yet. They’re selfish, just like the rest of us. They want to learn how he can solve their problems first.
Misinformed marketing leads to no clients. No clients leads impostor syndrome. And suffering from impostor syndrome — that lack of confidence — is deadly to your business.
Would you still feel like an impostor if your business had the most resource-rich website in the industry that you serve?
Would you still feel like an impostor if you woke up to emails of prospective clients thanking you for sharing what you know?
Would you still feel like an impostor if, on sales calls, your prospects tell you that they feel like they already know you (despite having never met you) because they’ve been following you for months (or years)?
When you get your marketing and your consulting website right, you’ll feel a well-deserved confidence — a confident that derives from the value you provide.
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