The challenges in marketing an Independent Consultancy
You might think marketing a consultancy is pretty much the same as marketing any other business, but our experience tells us that there are nuances every consultant should be aware of.
Being a consultant is all about sharing YOUR knowledge and skills to enhance the way your client works – YOU AND YOUR TEAM ARE THE PRODUCT. This means that your services and processes are actually very rarely your differentiators.
If you set out your stall based on service lines, it’s easy to compound the problem by trying to aim too wide. This leads to a vague and generic proposition with no online “street-shout”.
When an Independent Consultancy doesn’t differentiate
We found this great tongue in cheek mock-up from One Rabbit in Australia, of a consultancy website which does pretty much everything wrong– if you’re brave enough, see how many of the common errors demonstrated you can see on your own site!
The message is that if you are not important to someone, you are important to no-one. If you don’t differentiate, your brand communication becomes homogenised. Consultants operate in a crowded and noisy space, so when this happens, you end up with no option other than to try and shout louder than the rest – generally draining your marketing budget.
Common mistakes marketing a Consultancy
Lack of differentiation
We always ask new prospective consulting clients what their USPs (Unique Selling Points) are, and we consistently see these phrases come up:
Firstly, there are nothing wrong with these phrases.
However, you can pretty much guarantee that all of your competitors are using the same, or similar words to describe their fantastic service, trained staff and proven processes.
These types of phrases are in effect “hygiene factors” that serve to differentiate you from the bad consultancies, but do not help you to shine amongst the many good consultancies out there.
Being all things to everyone
There is a natural temptation to be broad in appeal, to avoid turning off any potential client. However, when you try to sell all services to all clients, your messaging becomes more generic and vanilla and you broaden the number of businesses who are competing with you.
Be specific, don’t try and compete in an area where you simply can’t.
Re-inventing the wheel
There is also a temptation to shoe-horn your skill set and processes into standard service lines in order to make them more instantly recognisable. However, if you have a specialism in a particular sector, or a unique approach, remember that it’s this that makes you interesting.
Be true to who you are.
Marketing to the aware
Standard marketing thinking is that prospective clients will self diagnose, and seek out an advisor to help them deal with an issue – to an extent this is true. When it comes to the world of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), this is often not the case, as people will often start their journey towards you by googling the problem they are trying to solve. Consider …
Clients who are aware – they know their problem and want to take action. They know the service they want, but may not have come across you (yet)
Clients who are unaware – know something is wrong, but haven’t quite put their finger on it yet. They aren’t querying services because they don’t know they want them yet.
There are far more people in the second category than the first. By not spreading your message to these people, you are not going to be on their radar when they have their “aha! Moment”.
Your brand means nothing to someone who has never heard of it before
Differentiating your Consultancy
For differentiation to be meaningful, your USP must align with something your clients value highly, and be based on depth of expertise.
There are 3 cornerstones for unlocking your consultancy differentiation:
You are selling advice based on your skills and experience, so leverage what you know about. Those in your market will put a high value on your expertise.
Let your personality shine with some personal insight – people choose to work with people they know, like and trust.
The more you focus on a particular service, partnership style or industry sector, the more you can leverage insights that come from clients experiencing a similar problem.
Demonstrate clear ways of working, a clear client journey and the types of support that you offer.
3. Value add
Demonstrate how you add value – it’s all about getting the better result for clients, not a race to the bottom on price.
Work to understand each client, and agree how to support them in getting the best results for their circumstances and goals.
How to market an Independent Consultancy
Identify your market position
Find an audience with a problem which you can demonstrably solve better than someone else. Build a deep understanding of your Buyer Personas. Align your value proposition to the buyer personas.
Build a conversion focused website and use Inbound Marketing techniques such as lead magnets as introductions to specific services where you can make a difference to clients.
Leverage your differentiation
Use your uniqueness to identify keywords for your SEO strategy, write blogs about the pain points that you are experts in solving, share case studies and testimonials to demonstrate how you have made a difference.
Capture data from those who interact with you, welcome them through an email drip campaign, and tag them in your database so that you can send them segmented relevant updates. If you are using Social Selling techniques, follow people who you are interested in and see if you can get a conversation going.
Keep yourself top of mind
Share useful and engaging content that helps to resolve the common problems that you see amongst your existing and prospective clients. Don’t sell when you are doing this – it’s not what your followers signed up for.
Remember – if you own a position in someone’s mind, it’s harder for someone to dislodge it when it comes to the time when they are ready to buy.
A parting question for you
Question : Was this guide aimed at educating you or marketing to you?
Your Answer : ?
Our Answer : Both. To us, they are the same.
Finally, a huge thank-you to Fergus Crockett from Developing Business Performance – Business Coach and Business Consultant – for his insights that helped me create this blog.