There's no best way to promote your consulting services. If you want to generate sustainable growth, your marketing initiatives will depend on your audience, specialization, skill set and personality, and many more. But this doesn't mean we can't learn from others in the industry.
Last week a prospect asked me: If you had to pick, what are the 3 things every consulting partner or advisor should invest in to generate more business? While the question was not very clear ("things"?), I did have an answer to it.
Based on my experience, you should systematically:
- Cultivate a strong network and nurture your existing relationships.
- Identify and engage with your dream clients.
- Improve your positioning, and create proof of expertise.
They serve different purposes, consist of very different activities, and work under different conditions and timeframes. But if you have those three items in your toolbox, I'm absolutely sure you will never run out of opportunities.
Here's a quick summary of each one of them.
Systematically Cultivating & Nurturing Your Network
This takes a relatively small time to implement, and what you should be looking for is engagement.
I've previously written about the importance of an existing network here, here, here and here. Making it a priority allows you to increase your visibility and consistently generate opportunities at a relatively low cost. It's not a surprise I aggressively promote this practice among clients and friends.
When done right it has virtually no downside, and it works:
- You have an updated database of current and previous clients, prospects, collaborators, friends, and centers of influence in your space.
- You can quickly find and activate this network to cross-introduce contacts, invite them to join your trust-building initiatives, and explore opportunities.
- You consistently stay top-of-mind by sharing your unique content, the latest trends and insights in their space, and learnings from recent projects.
A healthy network is also your main source of audience research. The value from recurring conversations comes is huge: it allows you to "feel the temperature" and detect new trends in your space, create new offerings to serve existing needs, and employ a message that speaks to your target market by using their own words.
Identifying & Engaging With Dream Clients
This can take you a few months to fully understand and implement ABM campaigns, and what you should be looking for is sales.
Now question why you are marketing to everyone.
When you internalize that you can work with nicer and more professional people while charging more to do so, creating your list of dream clients becomes an obvious exercise. You can get ahead simply by sitting at the right table and choosing with whom you want to play. Why not do that?
Those ideal prospects are usually companies that:
- Are run by people you enjoy working with.
- Look for long-term support and partnerships.
- Value quality work and communication, and pay on time.
- Would greatly benefit from your specific knowledge and experience.
- Have strong and unique brands, and will add credibility to your client portfolio.
Pick one of the companies on your list. Market to them. Win them.
Improve Positioning & Create Proof Of Expertise
Great positioning and building a reputation is part of a process that can take a relatively long time to show results. What you should be looking for is brand affinity.
98% of your potential clients are not looking for your services and expertise right now - they may not even have the problem you can solve - but that doesn’t mean you shouldn't speak to them. You want them to remember you and come knock at your door when that day comes.
To capture and increase mindshare you will need to stop obsessing about marketing ROI, and do these instead:
- Have a strong positioning strategy and implement that plan. Always look for better ways to communicate your unique attributes and marketing promises.
- Continually produce unique content, in a decent volume. This increases your luck surface area to attract opportunities, and allows your audience to understand how you think and work.
- Explore and create new ideas and intellectual property, and specialize to increase the half-life of your initiatives.
Most B2B consultants are horrible at these, so that's an opportunity for you.
The abundance of data distracts us from the fact that most purchases are irrational. Being perceived as the best at what you do is what will drive companies to hire you, since they can only judge the quality of your services during the engagement.
Win their minds. Win their businesses.