If you’re offering business consulting services then an effective marketing plan should be squarely at the center of all your business. The Dictionary of Marketing Terms defines marketing “as the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion and distribution of ideas, goods and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organizational goals.” To provide consulting services without a well structured marketing plan is clearly putting the cart before the horse. Your marketing plan not only defines your consulting services but establishes the value of your services and then sets a plan in motion to deliver your services through a synchronized effort.
Regardless of the size of your consulting firm, the scope of your consulting services or the level of your expertise, a consultant without a marketing plan will be a consultant without work. Just as consultants stake their reputation on their expertise, the buyer entrusts their future and their money to the consultant. The consultant is obligated to provide each buyer with a well scripted and articulated marketing plan that justifies the expenditure and breeds confidence in the product.
The marketing message must be consistent through every telephone procedure, through every written correspondence, every web site and web log, through all the direct and indirect advertising and most importantly through the spoken word. The synchronization of these efforts is generally referred to as “integrated marketing.”
To deliver “integrated marketing,” you must provide structure and definition to the consulting services. This is not the time for mixed messages. The marketing plan gets to the point and stays on subject. For this reason, the consultant must develop the marketing plan before commencing solicitations for consulting jobs.
The marketing plan details the scope of your business, your business philosophy and practices and your mission. Over time, the original marketing plan may require adjustments but the original principles should remain unchanged. Every component of your consulting business should be in complete harmony with your marketing plan.
Many consultants confuse the marketing plan with the sales plan. Like all other business components, the sales strategy is incorporated and defined by your marketing plan. You receive opportunities that may push the limits of your product and value. When confronted with these opportunities, successful consulting firms need only look as far as their marketing plan to determine the merits of these possibilities. At the outset of a new consulting enterprise, it is imperative to stay within the consulting services guidelines as set forth in your marketing plan.
Whether you are already providing business consulting services or if you are launching a new venture, develop your marketing plan from the beginning. Define your product and its value and state those attributes in everything you do. Make “integrated marketing” an integral part of your new consulting self.