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Consulting Business Model vs. Online Marketing Hype

By Michael Zipursky

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I just saw an ad on Facebook from someone claiming that they have the best model to help you get more clients and to grow your business. What’s the problem with that?


The Online Hype

The problem with that is that there are far too many people these days claiming that they have the best model to help you to get results. They tell you that you need to be on Facebook. They tell you that you need to be on LinkedIn; that you can only get the best clients through social media, or through webinars or through Pinterest or through some other type of tactic or platform.

Sure, it would be convenient to just tell you there’s only one way to do something and that my way or some other person’s way is the best way of doing it, but that would be untrue. That wouldn’t be transparent.

They say there’s only one way to do it.

In fact, this one person – whose ad and information I just saw on Facebook – said that you actually don’t have a business unless you know how to invest in advertising, and turn that advertising into a paying client.

They went as far as saying that if you don’t know how to do that – if you don’t take that approach to your business right now, then your business isn’t actually a business…

They said it’s a hobby.

What Not to Believe

I can tell you, that having built successful consulting businesses for over 16 years, that that is absolute garbage. Why? Because there is no best business model. Sure, it would be convenient to just tell you there’s only one way to do something and that my way or some other person’s way is the best way of doing it, but that would be untrue. That wouldn’t be transparent.


Depending on your business, or whom your ideal consulting clients are…depending on the market that you’re in will dictate what type of marketing and approach will be most effective for you.

The Hard, Cold Truth

What a lot of people don’t understand is that all of these people on Facebook or LinkedIn or these other advertising platforms, talking about, “I’ve got some special course and you can just jump on and instantly you’ll see results the next day…”


“Learn how to get clients right way!”

“Learn how to do this..or that…or the other with my one way of doing it!”

What most of these people don’t have is real-world consulting experience. They use the word consulting, but what they’ve only done is worked online as coaches.

They’ve never worked with real clients.

They’ve never worked in the corporate world.

The Many Faces of Consulting

You see, there’s different kinds of consulting: there’s consulting where you work with small business owners. There’s also consulting and working with corporate clients and larger companies. The approach that you take for one will be very different from the other, because the way of marketing to small businesses doesn’t necessarily work for – and in most cases doesn’t at all work for – getting in front of large corporate buyers.

A lot of people in the marketplace fail to address that. They don’t understand the difference and most of their experience tends to be only working with smaller businesses or targeting other entrepreneurs.

If you try and take those marketing tactics and those strategies and apply them to reaching executives in a C-suite, you’re going to see miserable results because they don’t work.

It’s a completely different model.

Understand Your Clients’ Market

What you want to do is make sure that your marketing and strategy are the right fit for your specific marketplace. Really dig to understand who it is that you’re targeting – what do they care most about – and then what will be the most effective way to reach them.

There’s certainly a process on how to think about things, but just saying that one way is the best way and the only way would be untrue and it wouldn’t serve you.

When I work with clients and consultants – when we’re going through their marketing and their strategies, we spend a lot of time on this foundation. Before we can even pick a specific tactic or before I can even recommend what they should be doing, I always want to make sure that we have a deep understanding of their market.

I really want to encourage you to do the same, because if you try and use tactics that some person online has told you about – and that they’re the best for everyone – when you apply that in a blanket fashion, you’ll probably end up wasting a lot of time, resources, and your energy.

You’ll lose focus.

Don’t Let This Happen to You

Think about your market place. Figure out who they are and how you can reach them in the most effective way. That’ll help you then to figure out what strategy and tactic will be the right fit for you. Don’t just jump on what other people tell you to do or what some advertisement claims. Ask more questions. Really understand if it’s the right fit for your specific marketplace or for the ideal clients that you’re targeting, because:

There Is No Best Model

There’s certainly a process on how to think about things, but just saying that one way is the best way and the only way would be untrue and it wouldn’t serve you.

What I want to ensure is that you’re served at the highest levels and that you have all the information that you need to be successful as a consultant in your business.

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12 thoughts on “Consulting Business Model vs. Online Marketing Hype

  1. This is so, so true. Well done for posting Michael.

    • Ian – my man! I know you lead with true authenticity and you do great work.

  2. John Mc says:

    This is an excellent article, Michael. When many people are learning–and, sadly, when many people are teaching–they get fixated on *methods*. Exactly as you suggest, the methods being taught/learned are most often not a good solution to the marketing problem at hand. So, you are right: People need to understand the fundamental concepts and principles first, and then develop specific methods for their target clients. Cheers, JMc

  3. condor68 says:

    Yes, absolutely. Sick of all the Internet hype artists who have never built a real business, consulting practice or even coaching practice themselves. I have built two startups to over $100 million in sales and these guys are mostly infopreneurs selling information – but have little consulting skills themsleves. Systemization is critical to grow/scale but each system will vary by the target client and offering.
    Bob Norton, CEO

    • Bob – great to have you in the community here and thanks for sharing. I know this resonates with many people. While it may be easier to ‘fool’ people into a quick purchase, being authentic and serving our clients to really make an impact and create value is far more important to me.

  4. Ivan Košalko says:

    Vow, this is brilliant and very helpful, Michael. Thank you so much.

    • It’s what I’ve observed Ivan. When you’re in the industry for many years you see what comes and goes and what really creates a lasting impact.

  5. Brilliant and timely distinction, Michael.
    It reminds me of what As Ralph Waldo Emerson once
    said: “As to methods, there may be a million and then some, but principles are
    few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The
    man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.”
    It seems many gurus are full of methods but
    are very short on principles. They know how to swing a hammer but don’t understand
    the principles of carpentry.
    Hm. For a moment Ian Lurie’s book comes to
    mind: One Trick Ponies Get Shot: How Services Companies Can Avoid The Vendor
    Trap, Do Better Work, And Prosper.
    But then the cemeteries would be full of
    one-trick gurus. Mind, you they would no longer clog up the market.
    Anyway, thanks for the great video.

    • Tom – thank YOU! Appreciate the thoughtful comment and glad it resonates.

  6. Ah yes – the guru hype, that is based on fanciful misleading concepts, at least you are calling it, and letting people know how to cut through the hype and actually go onto to make a great income from consulting, the genuine way… 🙂

    • Kate – great to see you here! You know my style – it’s important that people stay focused on what really works and realize that it does take hard work and doing the right things to see results and achieve real long-term success.

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