Here's a million-dollar question for you: Who are your dream clients, and what are you doing to connect with them?
This is a fairly obvious question for any consultant who's trying to generate opportunities and win more business. But 9 out of 10 times I pose it to partners and principals, they can't seem to answer it.
After hundreds of conversations with independent consultants, I noticed there are two reasons why that's a powerful question to start improving your marketing:
- Many firms don't know who their dream clients are.
- The ones that know it, rarely take this information into account when planning their marketing and sales initiatives.
Here are my two cents on each one of those sins.
You Don't Know Who Your Dream Clients Are
If you don't know who your dream clients are, I strongly suggest you take some time to think about it.
The starting point is to understand you can charge higher fees and get more enjoyment from consulting simply by choosing who you want to work with. You can (and should) reject opportunities to generate sustainable growth.
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 in 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.
Bear in mind this exercise will require some time and energy - like anything in life. But having your dream clients' list visible will completely transform your marketing initiatives.
You Don't Prioritize Marketing To Your Dream Clients
If you're a specialized consultant or advisor chances are you only need ONE dream client to drive significant revenue and profit to your pocket.
Now question why you are marketing to everyone.
Pick one of the companies in your list. Market to them. Win them.
Now, the number one excuse I hear from most consultants is that they take any projects from any client because they need work. I call this an excuse because most seasoned consultants out there do have good margins and a decent buffer, and are underinvesting in marketing. If that's you, you know this to be true.
But it might also be the case that you don't have the runway to wait for months without projects. Usually, your pipeline is not as healthy as you think it is. Winning a dream client can take time, and you need to keep the business afloat.
That's a position you don't want to be in. But how do you act if you are?
You balance it out. Every consultant with a low runway needs to:
- Focus on sales activation to win new projects in the short-term; AND
- Ensure you're investing at least a bit in brand and relationship building, to win mindshare and slowly bring in some of your dream clients later on.
Just because you can't afford it now, doesn't mean you should neglect your dream clients. It takes patience and consistency for good things to compound. If you never market to your dream clients, they will never become a reality.
The best time to start? Today.