Recently the Minister of Finance declared that Government Departments will need to become more lean and mean and make do with what they have.
This “freeze” is bound to affect consultant income. Times are going to be tough and Government are certainly going to be cutting costs and re-evaluating consulting relationships and contracts.
Professional Service Providers are going to have to do the same. Re-evaluate their practices and how they do things.
In this process there are two approaches that can be followed:
- Focus on what to cut or reduce or,
- Focus on what you need to do to continue doing well.
In 1984 I was in a situation where I joined a new organization, when after one week with the company, the CEO asked me in a meeting, so “What extra value are you going to add. I started rambling about my tasks, when he said, “No – no that is the minimum, what extra do you have to offer”. I have never forgotten that lesson. That’s sound counsel, regardless of the economy.
So, here’s some advice that could help you with name recognition and your own reputation externally and internally in a tough economy.
Re-examine your Core Value Proposition – What made you successful in the first place? Sometimes we start to focus on turnover and forget about the small things, such as the personal attention to detail that made the practice successful in the beginning.
Stick to your knitting but embrace New Principles. Teaching an old dog new tricks is possible. Learn better, faster and more efficient ways to do things. My secret weapon – Reading the daily tips from Lifehacker.
Balance innovation and your past successes. Stay relevant. Constantly review your service offerings. Is it still in touch with customer needs? Along those same lines, an internal or external service provider needs to stay relevant. If you constantly prove your value, you’re more likely to remain a partner in the business”
Think and sell strategically and tactically. During a recession, value is going to be more deeply examined; clients are going to demand that you add extra value.
How do you do that – attend my new and revamped 1 day How to Market and Grow a Consulting Practice workshop on the 10th December in Johannesburg.
As we all know, perception is everything. Do you treat all people with respect? Not just senior management! Relationships are built at all levels. Often senior management will turn around and ask junior staff members about their perception of you. What would you like them to say?
Market, Market, Market yourself. In the book “High Income Consulting” by the late Tom Lambert, the author had the following to say: “The so – called window of opportunity is open only briefly as an organization’s priorities change. When a potential client recognizes the need for services which you supply, yours must be the name they know. Your marketing, therefore, must be CONSISTENT and INDIRECT, aimed specifically at making you well known to ALL your prospective clients”.
To be a recognized name means that you have to find methods that will work for you in the long term and in the short term, using vehicles ranging from public speaking engagements to suitable audiences to being listed in directories.
The lesson is clear. You should find ways and means to ensure that yours are the name customers remember when that window of opportunity arises.
Social Media has now become the preferred tool of choice in this strategy. Learn more on how to best market your consulting services using many different approaches and techniques on the 10th December.
Register now and avoid disappointment.
Many of my readers may not be aware that I facilitate Marketing a Professional Practice workshops.
These workshops are designed to teach professional service providers ranging from architects to doctors to management consultants how to build their reputation and market themselves elegantly in an inter-connected society.
At my last workshop, I was asked for a classical explanation of strategic marketing and its value and why it should be in writing. So, here is my response:
As Lee Iacocca, former chairman of Chrysler says that the discipline of writing things down is the first step toward achieving them.
Strategic Marketing is a conscious and systematic process that involves the following steps:
- Selecting target market segments using such classification as industry, readiness for consulting, company or division size, function, or issues such as productivity etc.
- Analysing the specific needs of those market segments;
- Developing the capabilities to address the target markets’ needs with expertise, relevant programs, and assessment and evaluation tools (that includes determining costs, prices and delivering service options);
- Designing visibility and credibility strategies to increase name recognition and reputation in the selected marketplaces;
- Identifying prospects and making presentations to specifically address prospective clients’ unique interests;
- Providing the highest quality of consultant services on client projects;
- Managing consultant client relationships to ensure on-going mutually beneficial partnerships.
Develop & Implement Cost-Effective Strategies, Tools & Techniques
The late Howard Shenson, in his book “The Complete guide to Consulting Success” writes that the marketing strategies consultants use have a profound effect on their chances for success.
He advocated the use of low – cost and no –cost strategies for consultants as his research showed that the use of indirect, more public relations like activities are far more effective than direct, hard-sell techniques that so many consultants use.
Tom Lambert echoed this in the book “High-Income Consulting”. Lambert used to conduct, in Europe, the world’s leading seminar on building and sustaining a consultant practice, which was attended by more than 200, 000 attendees worldwide. Lambert said that your overall marketing strategy should be aimed at becoming well known in your field, and that indirect methods of marketing brings clients to you.
He also emphasised that the tactics that you select must be consistent with the reputation and image that you want to create.
Laurence G, Boldt writes in the book “Zen and the art of making a living” that the name of the game in marketing is circulation.
“Getting into circulation – and staying in circulation. Getting out and meeting people is circulating. Circulating flyers, making speeches is circulation”.
I liken it to Name Recognition. Whatever technique or tactic you use must be designed to increase your name recognition and to build your reputation. Above all, you need imagination and effort to try and see what works and what don’t work.
For more information and some handy tips regarding marketing consultancy services, read my chapter that I wrote called ‘Consultancy Marketing: Developing the Right Mindset’ in the book The Advice Business – Essential tools and models for Management Consulting by Prof. Charles Formbrun and Mark D.Nevins or attend the next Marketing a Professional Practice workshop in Johannesburg on the 24th June.
Footnote: The Marketing a Professional Practice workshop used to be called Marketing a Consulting Practice. Due to it attracting professionals like architects, lawyers and other professionals I have decided to change the name to be more in line with the target market.
Each client represents a relationship, and is also another boss. The consultant has many bosses—clients—that must be satisfied. A Manager has many clients to satisfy and many of them are internal. Building a reputation with all clients, external or internal are vital. That’s why it’s so important to consider how client relationships are managed. Each relationship is influenced by both the consultant and the client.
Here are some of the tips that I believe the consultant or staff member can do to impact the relationship —to make the client, internal or external – happy.
1. Provide regular progress reports so there are no surprises at the end of the assignment. Clients deserve to be well informed about your work’s status at all times.
2. Avoid internal politics. Your client has to deal with organizational politics and does not want you to get involved. That would make his or her life more complicated. So avoid internal issues like a plague.
3. Emphasize the benefits of your work at all times. Clients are busy, and they often forget the value of the work you are doing. Note the benefits of the work in tangible terms as frequently as possible.
4. Define what you mean by quality work as frequently as possible. Defining quality outcomes gives you some degree of control over the work.
5. Establish channels of communication with everyone involved in your work. Where appropriate, schedule regular meetings, provide written progress reports, have frequent phone conversations, and take notes, regardless of the communication channel. An effective consultant is a great communicator!
6. Discuss small problems before they become major problems. Stay on top of the job and it won’t get the best of you.
7. Be prepared to deal with delays caused by the client that impair your ability to meet deadlines. Be extremely sensitive to deadlines and what is in the way of meeting them. Inform your client early about what is getting in the way.
8. Put yourself in the client’s shoes at all times. Know your clients and you will know what makes them happy!
What I am saying to you is that each and every one of us are marketing ourselves and building our reputations all the time. Building a resilient reputation is an everyday task.
I have launched a brand new e-newsletter for consultants, business practice managers, experts, professional service providers and/or anyone interested in learning about marketing and building, sustaining and protecting their reputation in a competitive knowledge economy.
As a tool, this newsletter will provide the reader with valuable knowledge, hints and tips to sharpen their rainmaker & consultancy marketing competencies and raise potential for future success.
An evaluation copy of Marketing Gems- A Monthly goldmine of marketing insights can be obtained by sending me an e-mail