Marketing your consulting business is the one thing that will take you from a new, unknown entity to industry force to be reckoned with.
Because it’s critical to get marketing right, it’s important to understand the difference between marketing and sales. Marketing is a long-term commitment. It’s about getting your company name out there, and keeping it in the public eye. Sales, on the other hand, are all about closing a deal. It’s more direct, and generally, targeted to a specific client.
All three of the pillars of client and business development though – marketing, sales and advertising – are important in building a successful and profitable consulting business.
Developing an effective marketing strategy depends on defining the market you are targeting, and tailoring your approach to suit. Making people aware of your business, and interested in what you do, and, as such, marketing can be anything from an idle conversation with a business acquaintance, to a glossy, thirty-page company profile.
Here are a few tips to get your marketing campaign off to a great start:
- Know your audience. You have a target market, and whether they are conservative grey suited businesspersons, people planning a wedding, or colorful media types, you need to target all of your marketing to that particular market.
- Go into as much detail as possible about who you are, and what you do, without becoming boring or repetitive. introduce yourself, and your business to prospective clients, and make them interested in what you do.
- Build a brand. A recognizable, consistent approach to marketing, whether it be the content, your logo or corporate colors, will make your business more recognizable, and your marketing efforts more successful.
- Choose your marketing activities according to your budget. Expensive print material that becomes dated quickly, for instance, could be replaced with easily updatable electronic versions, either on optical media, or on your website.
- Test your approach. Make sure you make note of your successes and failures. If a particular tactic is not producing a satisfactory return on investment, replace it with something else.
- On that same note, try various different approaches. Single page flyers handed out at industry events or trade shows, online marketing such as articles or press releases, direct mail and other slightly out of the box ideas can work well with more traditional marketing strategies.
Marketing your consulting business is undoubtedly a time consuming and tricky business, but done correctly, it can help your business to grow, and become profitable, quickly.
If you are a one-man operation, and you find that you don’t have time to attend to marketing, you have two choices – make time, or hire an independent contractor or company to deal with it for you. Marketing is one of the aspects of business that cannot be ignored, and needs daily attention.
Even if you set a goal to accomplish only one marketing task every day, whether it be sending an introductory email to five clients per day, or designing a new product brochure, you are certainly on the right track.
Keep it fresh, keep it interesting, and most importantly, keep on top of it, and marketing will build your business.