Effective marketing of your consultancy is one of the most significant challenges you will face as you build your business. Creating a brand that gets recognized and sells your skills effectively can be difficult, particularly when there is so much competition in the market. Consultants are effectively selling themselves, which adds to the difficulty. With careful consideration and hard work, you can create your own unique and respected branding. To help with this, below are 11 ideas for marketing your consultancy.
1. Think about your individual brand
Having set up an independent consultancy, you must always bear in mind that your brand is you and vice versa. New means for advertising yourself and creating better visibility for your consultancy are always appearing on social media, but don’t forget that you can also advertise to your current/former workmates and your wider community. Don’t forget that your entire online presence is a reflection on your consultancy. Think about the way you appear online and make adjustments or adaptations as necessary.
2. Create a successful pitch
With hundreds of consultancies clamoring for work, no potential client has the time to listen to a long pitch. You need to develop a short and gripping description of your consultancy that can hook a client in less than 30 seconds – any longer than that and you’ve already lost their attention. Pack in everything that makes your individual brand unique and include all the most important information.
3. Build a professional website
Your website is the storefront for your brand and is probably where most potential clients will find you. Keep the writing error-free and crisp, make it look professional, and ensure it is continually updated – nothing looks worse than a website where the last content added was a year ago. Clients will think – and rightly –that somebody who can’t manage their own website professionally is unlikely to be able to manage other professional work. Money spent on professional designers is often money well spent; if you go down the DIY route, make sure you get lots of feedback from people whose opinions you trust.
4. Establish yourself as a thought leader
As an independent contractor, demonstrating to potential clients that you are a leading figure in your field is extremely valuable. Publishing a blog on your website or on a professional channel like LinkedIn is an extremely effective way of advertising your skills and showing a new audience that you are working at the cutting edge of your field. Away from the Internet, taking on speaking engagements is a good way of bringing your business to the attention of potential clients. Do some research to find out whether there are conferences, professional symposiums, or media opportunities (e.g., local radio) that require speakers.
5. Build your social network
Social networks have become an increasingly important part of marketing, allowing consultants to have direct contact with people who share their field of interest and to use word-of-mouth publicity to expand their client base. Twitter and LinkedIn are two of the best places to start building your brand on social media; make sure that you give potential clients useful and up-to-date content, and don’t swamp them with information every second of the day. Before every post, review to check that potential clients will find it interesting and valuable. Don’t use your business profile to share things that you think are funny, your political opinions and so forth; if you want to participate in that side of social media, open a second account, preferably one that cannot be linked with your professional profile.
6. Establish your target audience
Obviously, you need to target that section of the population who will find your consultancy most beneficial. You need to identify the sort of people that make up this audience, find out exactly what they need, think about which online sites they use most, and what their favored ways of communication might be. Time spent time researching your audience will help you to produce focused marketing that reaches those individuals who need your services and so are most likely to have a positive response to it.
7. Bring in visuals
If pictures speak a thousand words, moving pictures with sound speak a million. Video content is one of the best ways of showing your audience your expertise and professionalism. Try to incorporate video clips in your blogs and/or on Instagram. Video is one of the best ways of showing potential clients who you really are and helping them to engage with you and build up trust. Make your videos look as professional as possible, with graphics and titles as appropriate; if you know somebody who has experience in this field, ask them to help, or follow an online course that shows how to make really professional presentations.
8. Attend to networking
A robust network of contacts is essential for a successful consultant. Networking opportunities are everywhere, from professional conferences, local organizations, promotions, marketing fairs, and online connections with virtual meet ups. Whatever your chosen means of networking, make sure that you build up a good balance of different interests and skill levels in your network. Diversifying across your network will boost your creativity and innovative thinking and offer you opportunities to collaborate with people who can help build your business.
9. Go into partnership
Many different types of consultancy are right for partnership with others, for example web designers can partner with content writers, engineers can partner with legal experts, marketeers can partner with expert salespeople, managers can partner with operations experts, architects can partner with contractors, and so on. A good partnership can be highly beneficial to both sides, sharing clients, marketing strategies and leads. Going into partnership can also increase your attractiveness to clients; a client who needs both an architect and a contractor will often be pleased to find both in the same place and to know that they are taking on a contractor that their architect trusts or vice versa. Remember that a partnership will reflect on your professional reputation, so make sure you are partnering with somebody who lives up to your standards – don’t just grab at the first offer that comes along.
10. Get blogging
As previously mentioned, starting a personal blog is one of the best ways of getting your profile and that of your consultancy out there. Blogging is a way for you to contact your target audience, expand your client base, and show the world what you have to offer. However, it isn’t as simple as just putting up a blog and expecting people to come. You must be constantly updating your content and offering your readership ideas and tips that are valuable to them.
Creating and maintaining your blog for your consultancy can be done in many ways. It’s worth experimenting to find out what works best for your intended readership: do you get more hits if you post weekly, or a bigger audience if you post every day? What content gets the most likes, comments, and shares? Team up with other bloggers in the same field on a you share mine and I’ll share yours basis.
If writing or blogging doesn’t come naturally to you, consider enrolling on a course to sharpen your skills or look through some of the huge amount of information and advice available online.
11. Host events
For all the importance of Internet marketing, for consultants nothing can beat face-to-face meetings with a potential client. These meetings allow you to let clients know who you are, what you’re about, and answer any questions they may have. Of course, during the pandemic, many such meetings have been confined to the Internet, but as (hopefully) things return closer to normal, you can think about hosting physical events as well. As with all other marketing, think about what potential attendees want to learn about and design your content accordingly. Invite partners from related fields (as long as they are not your direct competitors) to give presentations as well; for example, if you are an architectural consultant giving a presentation on designing basement conversions, invite a contractor in to give a presentation or answer questions on the physical building work required. Don’t expect the world to come flocking all at once; if you only have half a dozen attendees at your first event, if you offer them something of value they might tell half a dozen others and your business will quickly grow.
Hopefully by following the tips above you will be able to build a robust network for your consultancy and start to bring in work. As you build your business, don’t forget that there is always the risk that a single lawsuit could destroy everything you’ve worked for, sometimes even when you personally haven’t done anything wrong. Consider taking out professional liability insurance for consultants to protect your business in the event of mishaps.