One-to-One Marketing for Consultants – The Follow-Up

Follow Up Consulting Leads

This is the fifth and final article in a series of five articles on one-to-one marketing. If you missed the previous four, here they are:

  1. 4 steps
  2. The List
  3. The Offer
  4. The Message

So you’ve generated some new consulting client leads.  That’s always exciting.  But they are not clients yet.

There is so much more to do.  In many ways, you’re just getting started.

As you continue to nurture your leads, look for offers that move those leads along the sales process.

Yes, it took a lot to generate those leads, but you need to have a follow-up program in place to nurture those leads through the sales process.  Here are some key elements:

Find an email service provider

If you haven’t done so already, you need to open an account with an email service provider.  Companies like Constant Contact, Aweber and Vertical Response can help you create and implement a professional looking email marketing campaign for lead follow-up.

I use Constant Contact myself, but they’re all good and they’re all affordable – starting at $15 per month.

Everyone uses email these days in day-to-day communications, but for marketing communications, you really need an email service provider.

Create an auto-responder email series

One of the biggest problems solo professionals have with lead follow-up is consistency.  Some weeks they are very persistent.  Other weeks – usually when they are busy – they let things slide.

Consequently, leads can very quickly fall through the cracks.

An auto-responder email series can help you avoid this problem.  An email auto-responder, which is available from most email service providers, is a series of emails that are delivered to all new leads automatically on a pre-arranged schedule.

You create a series of 5-10 emails, arrange them in some logical order and decide on the schedule (decide how many days between each email).

Most consultants see newsletters as an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and experience – to build their reputation as a thought-leader in their industry.

The emails should all be developed to help solidify the new relationship you just created.  By sending out a series of emails – each just a few days apart – you improve your chances of making a lasting connection.

And with everything on auto-pilot, you don’t have to worry about getting too busy or sidetracked to follow up.

Use surveys to qualify your leads

Depending on how your leads were developed, you may need to find out more about your leads to determine whether they qualify as a prospect – and whether they are worth your time for further follow-up.

You can qualify your prospects with a survey.  Just a handful of questions should do it.  You want to find out about their industry, the size of their company, their job title and their location.  You also want to find out how satisfied they are with their current provider, and if applicable, how long their current contract will last.

If you used direct mail to generate your leads, you may already know some of the demographic information.  However, if your leads come in through speaking, article writing, networking, PR or online marketing, you’ll need to ask the demographic questions.

Once you create a survey, you can ask people to fill it out online, or you can give it to a telemarketing team and have the survey completed by phone.

Build your reputation with email newsletters

Since email has become an accepted marketing tool, email newsletters have taken off.   For good reason, most consultants see newsletters as an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and experience – to build their reputation as a thought-leader in their industry.

However, just like their printed counterparts, many email newsletters (or e-zines) fail to get past the first few issues.  They start with good intentions, but they just fizzle out because it is difficult to continually produce enough content to fill a newsletter every month.

The solution?  Keep your newsletter to one article – maybe two – and commit to a schedule of once or twice a month, once a week if you can.  Even if people don’t read everything you write, they will at least see your name and logo in their inboxes on a regular basis.

From a lead standpoint, webinars help you identify those leads that have the highest interest

Remember that frequency is more important than length.

Show your stuff with webinars

While webinars are often used as a lead generation tool, they can also be used to help build relationships during the lead nurturing process.

Like a newsletter, a webinar can help you demonstrate your knowledge and expertise.   But webinars give you a more personal connection to your audience.   Prospects will hear your voice and, in some cases, will see your face as you make your presentations.

When you put on a webinar, make sure it is mostly educational, not promotional.  There is nothing wrong with a sales pitch at the end, but don’t put people off by selling from the get-go.

From a lead standpoint, webinars help you identify those leads that have the highest interest.  That’s because your prospects are making a higher level commitment of time by registering and attending the webinar.

This allows you to create a sub-group of prospects who are better qualified than the larger group that requested your initial white paper.

Use step-up offers to move prospects along

At the beginning of this process, we used a white paper, special report or some other informational product to get our prospects to raise their hands and say they were interested.

Later, we offered the webinar as a way to build on that relationship and identify the better leads among those early responses.

As you continue to nurture your leads, look for offers that move those leads along the sales process.

  • Offer a personalized strategy session or a free assessment or diagnosis to create a more one-to-one relationship.
  • Offer to prepare a financial analysis or a slide presentation to give your contacts more ammunition to sell your services to upper management.
  • Offer case studies or a list of current clients to those who are seriously considering your services.

Look for any opportunity to connect more personally with your prospects and to move them closer to the words, “Where do I sign?”

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Bob McCarthy is a marketing consultant/copywriter and the owner of McCarthy & King Marketing, a Milford, Massachusetts marketing agency specializing in direct mail, email marketing, website development and online marketing. 

You can subscribe to his blog, The Direct Response Coach, at www.mccarthyandking.com.  Bob can be reached at 508-473-8643 or bob@mccarthyandking.com

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